Joe Marmo graduated from RIT in 1973 in printing technology. Dan Horowitz became a Tiger alumnus in 2009 in print media. They are among the more than 25 RIT graduates working at Hammer Packaging in Rochester.
The graduates work in a variety of positions at the company, which prints 22 billion labels a year for everyday products ranging from cut-and-stack labels for Campbell’s soup to 360-degree shrink sleeve labels for Bolthouse Farms juice.
The 100-year-old, family-owned company employs 445 people.
“I think the relationship we have with RIT helps the school, plus it helps us immensely because when we look at the competitive nature of our business, it’s a value-added that we can tap into RIT’s resources where our competition can’t,” says Jim Hammer, fourth-generation president and CEO of Hammer Packaging. “We market that quite heavily.”
Hammer says RIT was instrumental in keeping his company in Rochester. In the late 1990s, he considered moving the operation to North Carolina, which offered lucrative tax incentives.
Then he met with Al Simone, the RIT president at the time, who helped convince him to purchase RIT property for his expansion. This year, the company will see $105 million in sales. Their success, Hammer says, is in part because they invest in technology and people.
The RIT graduates work in all aspects of the business—customer service, sales, pre-press and accounting, to name a few. The majority are graduates of the School of Print Media, which is now called the School of Media Sciences to reflect advances in the industry. When Marmo attended, it was called the School of Printing.
Marmo got interested in printing when he worked as a paperboy as a kid. He has been at Hammer since 2008 and works in customer service. He owned a small commercial print shop from 1980 until 1994.
“A lot of RIT grads are in Rochester, so I wasn’t really surprised that there were so many here. I was surprised that I was the oldest,” he says, laughing.
Horowitz first learned about printing in his Hilton, N.Y., high school and networked with another RIT graduate to find out about the job opening. He works in inside sales and calls his cubicle “the Tiger Den.”
Marmo and Horowitz say the advantage of working with so many graduates is that there aren’t any college rivalries.
But the conversation can center on one topic at certain times of the year.
“RIT comes up during hockey season,” says Horowitz, who keeps an RIT pennant in his cubicle. “Go Tigers!”