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    « Bring Back the Supplies Business | Main | BIM Will Create More Demand for "Content Brokers" »

    April 25, 2006

    Wanted: Young Professionals Seeking Opportunity

    Prague_old_town_square About 14 years ago, only a few years after the fall of the Berlin Wall, I was in Prague, Czechoslovakia.  For anyone who is traveling to Europe I’d highly recommend Prague.  It is truly a stunning city.  I was walking down the winding cobble stone streets one evening when I heard a crowd shouting in the distance.  I followed the noise and came into a plaza (“Old Town Square”) where I saw a group of seven or eight people standing on a monument with bright lights shining on them.  One of the people would say something in Czech and cheers would come from one half of the crowd and hisses would come from another half.  Whatever they were saying was very polarizing.  One half emphatically agreed with what they were saying and the other half emphatically disagreed with what they were saying.  When I would ask somebody what they were saying, nobody spoke English.  I saw a young woman who was just as curious and as me.  I asked her if she understood and she said “No I don’t speak Czech, I’m German”.  She found an older man who spoke German and she started to converse.  She then turned to me and said “They are communists.  They are trying to bring back the communist party.”

    I thought to myself “why would they want to bring back communism.”  They worked so hard to get free from communism.  As I looked around the crowd, I noticed that the half of the crowd that was cheering were older and the half that was upset was younger.  The day before I had been talking to an older Czech that told me “you American’s promised us prosperity and we fought to bring the wall down and now we have less”.  My response was “We didn’t promise you prosperity we gave you opportunity.”  It didn’t make sense to them and at that moment I realized why:  The older generation wants security and stability and the younger generation wants opportunity.  The fall of the wall brought opportunity for younger people, but there was no social security for older people.

    Why am I telling this story?  I believe the AEC reprographics industry has a problem that relates back to the branding problem.  Due to the doom and gloom that has been professed by some and the branding of the reprographics profession as less than strategic, the industry is not seen as exciting by younger people who could enter the industry.  I have nothing against older reprographers, I just believe that there needs to be a balance of wisdom and stability provided by the older generation and the passion, optimism, and risk taking that is endemic in a younger generation.

    I have hope.  I do know of a handful of younger people (and some older people who believe they are young) who have a hard time sleeping at night because they are so excited about the future possibilities.  I believe if we can re-brand the industry and highlight the more strategic and opportunistic aspects of the industry we can attract more people who see the opportunities and want to seize them.  The irony with the seizure of opportunity comes more prosperity, with prosperity comes more stability.  We should all be on a recruiting mission to convince younger people entering the market that this is an exciting industry full of potential.


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    Tanner Bechtel

    John, I couldn't agree with you more. I think the ideal bridge to be built in our industry is one that is built on the foundation of those reprographers who have built their company customer-by-customer and handshake-to-handshake.

    If we can retain that rich heritage of customer service and utilize the passion and desire for advancement that the next generation of reprographers possesses, we can naturally evolve the industry and retain all the good. Our clients are evolving with us, therefore, by growing our advancements in the shadow of their needs will do nothing but enforece a commanding position for our future.

    Whether rolls or tiffs, logbooks to databases, we're still managing the most critical information a customer has. As long as we maintain the relationship and roll with change, there is no 'doom and gloom' to our industry, it is simply a changing of the guard.

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