Oliver Iversen

Oliver Iversen • Written May 2009

Oliver Iversen

Oliver Iversen was born, raised, educated and worked most of his print sales career in Seattle. He started in the industry selling business forms for Reynolds & Reynolds, moved into paper sales for Soames Paper Company for many years. He then moved into print sales at Farwest/Acme and on to Graphic Arts Center, now Cenveo, retiring after 27 years as VP Sales. In 1975 he helped open the Seattle market for GAC and was instrumental in building and developing the sales group.

Almost from the beginning, my joy in printing has been about the relationships with people I’ve met in the business and those I’ve been fortunate enough to have worked with. Without a doubt technology has rocked the printing industry and I will let others discuss how those changes have affected and changed the business. For me the constant I’ve really enjoyed, are the people I have come in contact with. Where else, but in print can you meet and work with highly creative artistic people alongside great business minds, and produce it all with technically superior mechanics?

When I started selling print I had two of the best, teaching me the hard lessons of print sales, Bill Bonallo and John Nordahl. They were two of the owners of Farwest/Acme and they spent more time then they would have liked pushing me to be better. Inside of Farwest I met and studied under arguably one of the best color people in our business at that time or maybe ever, Mal Clarke. Because I was such a rube in those early days and didn’t get it, he spent a significant amount of time and energy teaching and training me. I really feel he understood color, inks, paper and the entire process better then anyone I had met at that time and maybe for all time.

The majority of time in printing I spent working for another great in the business, Warren Deal of Graphic Arts Center. When Bill Bonallo closed Farwest due to illness, Warren asked me to come onto his GAC team and open the Seattle market for them. At that time, GAC had just put in their first web press and the local Seattle market was printing almost all of their web work at Craftsman/ Met Press. It was an exciting challenge in a market that prided itself in its provincial attitude and with time it worked and worked well for GAC and me. Warren passed the chair onto another friend and icon in our industry, which I still work and print with today, Frank Stammers.

Whenever I think about where printing has taken me and with whom, I always find myself thinking about the strangest things and places then chuckling to myself. Years ago on early morning runs with a client in strange towns and surroundings seeing the sun come up; finding myself sleeping on a photographer’s couch in a rental in Idaho, so we could get going in the morning and sell a ski resort his photo as a poster of their area; flying into Nome with a PR agency owner to welcome Susan Butcher at the finish line of her second win of the Iditarod Dog Sled Race; standing for days beside web presses and clients, press checking yet another catalog or annual report; wincing when a client on a press ok asked what the PH balance in the web waters were; taking untold midnight flights to meet with a client in the morning in some far away city to check proofs or sell more printing; spending many hours sitting around a graphic designer’s home dining room table going over specs and proofs with their house cat walking all over the proofs; sleeping yet another night in an airport plastic chair after missing the last flight out of town and taking the first out in the morning; early on getting my hat handed to me by a very accomplished print competitor while he smiled; Ah yes the joys and fond memories of print sales.

While at GAC I came in touch and worked with so many interesting and great production managers, business owners, vendors, illustrators, CEOs, managers, photographers, sales people, customers and clients. Today from that group, I still find some of my closest friends.

Some people in our industry say and work like it is just ink on paper, but for me printing is far more than that. It is a wonderful craft which takes both art and science to make it happen, along with wonderful business relationships. Our industry has been around just about forever and with the technological advances we have seen in past several decades, and those to come, who knows where it will go from here.