True North Custom Print Project Manager Gail Meeker got into printing as a way to gain entrée into the editorial world. She found she liked the operational side of publishing so much that she never left.
Gail, who majored in English in college, appreciates the irony of her career.
“Of course I ended up working with numbers!” she says. “I got into printing with a company that had contracts with several major New York publishing groups. I intended to segue into publishing after a few years. However, I quickly became interested in printing and found I had an aptitude for logistics and process management. I ended up in a print production role and have been very happy.”
Wearing Many Hats
During the past 23 years, Gail’s career in commercial printing has taken her to printers big and small in six states along the Eastern Seaboard, from Massachusetts to South Carolina. Along the way, she’s been involved in nearly every aspect of the printing business, including estimating, accounting, purchasing, outsourcing, customer service, and planning. She has even pitched in with hands-on work around printing plants.
“Practically the only thing I haven’t done is run a big press,” Gail says.
Bringing Print Projects to Life
Gail joined True North Custom in 2014 and became print project manager a year later. Her responsibilities include conceptualizing non-standard pieces, pricing, supplying templates and sample dummies, coordinating schedules with printers across the country, purchasing print jobs, tracking the progress of projects, and troubleshooting any issues that may arise. Relationship building is a big part of her job.
“I am True North Custom’s liaison with our vendors,” Gail says. “I’m also responsible for finding printers that will meet our clients’ needs and sourcing our jobs to the most appropriate printers, based on production specifications and location. Communication between our clients and the True North Custom team is key. The more insight I have into a client’s needs, the better I’m able to provide information about a product’s pricing and schedule.
“At its core, my job is to assist my team members in creating products that meet clients’ needs, and do so in a way that clients never have to know I’m here. The process should be as easy and seamless as possible for clients while producing the best work they can get.”
Devoted to Her Craft(s)
When she’s not busy caring for her three teenaged children, Gail likes to get creative using a variety of media, including fabric, metal, jewelry, pottery, and photography. Her crafty side plays a role in keeping her professional life fresh.
“What inspires me is the craft of making something,” Gail says. “When I see something someone has made, I have to know how to do it. That’s part of what keeps me interested in print—figuring out how to create something within the framework of existing equipment, how to make the process work to produce a piece that’s different. Those are the fun projects.”
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