In terms of the achievements of our approximately 90,000 alumni, RIT
is an extremely successful university.
The best way to demonstrate
that fact is by showing some of the contributions RIT graduates are
making at work. There are countless examples!
We start with one story about
an individuals career in a major corporation,
and another on a smaller company that has been affected by the efforts
of the many RIT alumni it employs. Future issues
of The University Magazine will bring more.
job at Xerox
the late 1970s, Xerox Corporation was attacked by offshore companies,
recalls William R. Ernisse 71. Suddenly, the company that created
the photocopier faced an unprecedented threat to its existence.
Xerox responded with its
revolutionary 10 Series copier line, winning back market share with
reliable, customer-friendly products. It was a pivotal moment for the
company and for Bill Ernisse.
I was proud to be part
of that, says Ernisse, now vice president of sales operations
and marketing for the Western Sales Operations of Xerox in Santa Ana,
Calif. It was the first time Ernisse helped rebuild the company
but not the last. The corporate giants missteps are as well-documented
as its tremendous technological achievements. The challenges translated
into opportunities for Bill Ernisse.
I first met Bill in
1972 on the 25th floor of Xerox Square, says Dick Leo, vice president,
Xerox Global Services. Both Bill and I were just beginning our
careers at Xerox. In those early days Bill impressed me with his can-do
attitude. No challenge was too great for Bill. He also had an instinct
to direct his energy toward our customers and the people in the field
that worked with our customers. These days Bill is one of our most accomplished
field generals whose judgment is widely respected.
A Rochester native, Ernisse
majored in business administration at RIT and went to work for Xerox
in 1970 on a co-op job. I didnt even know what Xerox did
when I started, he quips. Its his way of saying that he
was young and had lots to learn.
What RIT provided in
terms of the technical aspect, co-op and academics, is just so useful,
he says. Xerox has long turned to RIT for well-prepared graduates. The
company is the second-largest employer of RIT alumni, with more than
2,000 currently on
the payroll. (Eastman Kodak Co. employs nearly 4,000 RIT grads.)
Ernisse says the RIT connection
enhances working relationships with alumni and non-alumni within the
company. When youre 3,000 miles away and you need to interface
with people (at Xerox facilities) in Rochester, its a great ice
breaker to say you went to RIT.
Ernisse began his career
with Xerox as a financial analyst. The company sent him to Florida as
a sales rep in 1973, beginning a series of moves from Florida to Rochester
until 1984 when he moved to the West Coast. Since then he has held a
number of key management positions, including vice president of worldwide
training and vice president of field operations for Xeroxs Western
area. Prior to his current position, he served as vice president and
general manager of Xerox of Greater Los Angeles Customer Business Unit.
Today, Ernisses organization
is responsible for sales operations from the Midwest states south to
Texas and west to Alaska and Hawaii. It represents multi-billions in
with growing that, he says, and with ensuring customer satisfaction.
He helps lead a sales force of more than 1,000. The competition is the
toughest it has ever been. Its a daunting, awesome responsibility,
of course, but those arent words Ernisse uses. What he says is,
Its really fun, trying to put the strategies together and
That sort of enthusiasm helped
Ernisse earn in 1990 the companys top achievement award, the Presidents
Award. Ernisse was one of 15 winners worldwide. He has won other top
awards from the American Society of Training Development and the National
Society for Performance and Instruction.
Whats next for Xerox?
The self-monikered Document Company is positioned to be
a leader in the business of the blending of hard copy and the
digital world, says Ernisse. Companies face an increasing need
to send and retrieve information instantly and store it indefinitely.
Theres a potentially huge market for efficient, inexpensive, easy-to-use,
reliable products that can convert hard copy into digital information.
Ernisse believes Xerox has a major advantage, because we know
more about the document and can do more than any company.
We have the best software and services for the job, he says.
Thats really where were going to go.
RIT to the best workplace in America
all started in 1978 when Larry Schindel 76 went to work for Automated
Graphic Systems Inc. He was the first RIT grad hired by the three-year-old
computer-typesetting firm in the Washington, D.C., area.
When Schindel started, the
company had 35 employees and $1.5 million in annual sales. Today, AGS
has $40 million in total sales and about 300 employees, including 17
RIT alumni, all graduates of the School of Printing Management and Sciences
(recently renamed the School of Print Media. See page 3). The alumni
hold a variety of positions, working in sales, customer service, production
and technical areas.
17 RIT grads who work for AGS are, from left: Larry Schindel '76,
Adam Rutkowski '01, Kullen Dickinson '00, Liz Kowaluk '00, Kristi
Grady '00, Donald Bachand '80, Alan Flint '92, Mark Czajka '89,
Renee Livingston '01, Jason Byrnes '96, Steve Szoczei '94 and Bill
I think the RIT grads
are appealing to the company because we learned the basic knowledge
and applied it quickly, says Schindel, billing coordinator and
estimator. He must have set a good example; he says he never had to
persuade the company to seek out RIT grads. Today, AGS actively recruits
on campus and at RIT job fairs. The company brought four 2002 grads
to Maryland for interviews in May.
AGS President John Green
says the RIT alumni have very definitely contributed to
the companys success in very specific ways. For instance, an RIT
graduate led the companys entry into CD-ROM production a decade
ago. Today, Mark Czajka 89 is director of new technology, and
Adam Rutkowski 01 is director of digital print. Sales representatives
Alan Flint 92 and Kullen Dickinson 00 are both recipients
of the companys Ben French Award, named in honor of the companys
founder and given annually to a top sales and customer service employee.
(Flint was winner for 1998, 1999, and 2000, and Dickinson won for 2001.)
All the RIT grads we
have here play a critical role with the company, says Green, who
is not an alumnus. They earn their keep very rapidly they
dont have to go through a long learning curve. Thats very
valuable to an employer.
And whats more,
they know the industry and they like the industry.
All but one of the RIT grads
work in AGS Maryland plant. Although they now span more than a
quarter century, Schindel says, Theres a close camaraderie
among the RIT grads.
Adam Rutkowski says he sees
other grads every day, and when an RIT student interviews at the company,
the alumni join the recruits for lunch and conversation. Rutkowski,
a native of Baltimore, calls AGS more than a printing company.
Its very progressive, ahead of the curve. His job presents
the kind of challenging tasks he likes and was trained to handle.
AGS, founded in White Plains,
Md., has three operating facilities serving customers in New England,
Mid-Atlantic, Southeast and Great Lakes regions. The company provides
design, typesetting, desktop publishing, database management, CD-ROM
production, pre-press, printing (digital, sheetfed and web) and related
services for the book, directory, magazine, journal and commercial industries.
In 1999, AGS became part of Consolidated Graphics Inc., which is made
up of 65 companies nationwide. Since 1990, AGS has appeared in Printing
Impressions Top 500 list of
leading printing companies in North America.
In 2000 and 2001, AGS received
the prestigious Best Workplace in America award sponsored
by Printing Industries of America.