Under the Florida sun
Millions of people go to Florida to play. Robert Roperti '66 (printing) and his wife, Mary-Dianne Roperti '65 (retail management) moved to the Sunshine State to work.
In 1988, Robert left DuPont after 22 years when the couple purchased Jiffy Reprographics, a printing business and property in Clearwater. The company, founded in 1960 as a blueprint business, flourished with the area's building boom. Robert says, "I remember needing some extra cash to buy the building and called Phi Sig fraternity brother Karl Rachfal '66 (printing) who provided the needed cash to buy the property."
Jiffy Reprographics is still going strong. Under Robert and Mary-Dianne's ownership, the company has grown significantly as a digital printing company and now has 25 employees. Customers include architects, engineers, builders, developers, ad agencies, law firms and government agencies around the country. About eight years ago, Robert helped organize a network of digital printers in several states to share services. The group now includes 110 companies, allowing all to provide networking services for printing of construction plans to national accounts.
It's no wonder that Jiffy Reprographics won the Small Business of the Year award from the Clearwater Regional Chamber of Commerce. "We consider that a great honor," says Mary-Dianne. "We love where we live and work."
Jiffy Reprographics today offers a variety of services including design, layout and digital printing, digital data distribution and production of presentation and promotional graphics such as large-scale displays and trade show materials. Not long ago, for instance, they created a 74-foot mural for the showroom of a large Buick dealership. The original design and production earned recognition the Printing Association of Florida's Award of Excellence."We provide the creative support as well as production," says Robert who attributes their success to the ability to apply new technology and to focus on the customer. "We work very hard at it," he says. The business also benefits from the blend of complementary skills the two owners possess, both say.
"Mary-Dianne brings a sensitivity I might not always have," says Robert, "but the fact of the matter is we agree on most subjects."
"The best thing about working together is having a partner to bounce ideas off of," says Mary-Dianne.
And it all started at RIT's old campus in downtown Rochester. "He used to sit in statistics class and watch me cross the street," says Mary-Dianne.
"I would say to myself, 'one of these days I'll get up enough courage to ask her out,' " says her husband.
The two have maintained a strong connection with their alma mater. Robert was named RIT's Outstanding Alumnus in 1981. They were instrumental in forming the Atlanta chapter before moving to Florida, and now are active in the Central Florida chapter.
"What's fun for me is to talk to some of the more recent grads," says Robert, "and find out about all the new programs at RIT."
Mary-Dianne, a native of Corning, N.Y., and Robert, who grew up Rochester, say Florida holds plenty of appeal – even for busy working people. "Our business is about two blocks from the Gulf of Mexico," says Robert. "On a clear day you really can see forever."
The University Magazine, Spring 2004