This is a hard one to write. Talk about change? Well, let’s talk about a person first.
In the mid 80′s I worked at a printing company in Mars, PA, just north of Pittsburgh. At this company we practiced service “out of this world”. Well, maybe not exactly, but that was the tag line for many companies in the area, given our locale. We were looking for a supervisor for the printing press department and I interviewed Jim Lewis for the position.
Jim was a native of Pittsburgh and we immediately made a connection. He had a great way about him. Calm, cool and always extremely helpful, he worked hard and really liked to laugh. His dry sense of humor served him well and you never knew what funny line would come out of his mouth. When he was laughing hard enough, you never knew what would happen. Once I saw milk come shooting out of his nose from a joke from a coworker.
When I left that company in Mars and started a new job, and Jim was one of the first people I called. He picked up his family of five and moved to the land of the Eagles; a tough gig for a Steeler fan.
We started on our next adventure running a printing division of a thousand-person company in Fort Washington. It was a mess of a company but we were together along with our other partner, Roxanne Edwards. We were fighting through the craziness of a company out of control. Structure was a big piece of what we brought, but we also made sure it was a place where people were valued and cared for. Jim played a big part of that in the pressroom, ensuring that his direct reports received a lot of great help and counsel.
It was during this time of 1989 the idea for RMS, Reprint Management Services, came about and the three of us started our first company together that August. Granted, it was right after the first Gulf war but we didn’t know that a war wasn’t a great time to start a business. We had each other and we were all in it together, through thick and thin. Not surprisingly, those earliest days had many of the latter.
We pushed on undaunted and made RMS the kind of place we always wanted to work but had never found. We knew it was our opportunity to make something special and so we did. We never forgot the fun of work and the fun of working together.
We started Nxtbook Media in July of 2003 with Spencer Ewald as an additional partner and sold RMS in September of 2007. Through it all we worked hard and transitioned from a print business to a total digital business, but more importantly our friendship persevered and we have functioned as three brothers and a sister for over 28 years. In my life, I’ve known Jim longer than I’ve not known him.
But now it’s time for a new beginning for Jim; an opportunity for him to spend a little more time in his wood shop, more time with his seven grand kids, more time with his lovely wife, Holly, and yes, less time for all of us here at Nxtbook. We will certainly lose out in some ways by not having Jim around each and every day. I feel like in many ways I’ll be losing a very valuable friend, and I know the company will be losing a valuable resource.
But then when you think about it, no one is really losing anything. Yes, things will be different for all of us but it’s not a loss, it is a life transition. They happen to us all in a variety of ways but retirement and the adjustments that come along with that are just a part of life. Jim will go on doing something different and we will never forget the fun that he brought to all of our lives.
Jim will be our first retiree from Nxtbook Media and I for one will miss seeing him every day, but know he will be having a great time doing all the things he wants and we will continue down the path of greatness, together linked in eternity by all of the things we have shared and done. Jim may not be here everyday but he will continue to be my brother in every way. Neither time nor distance apart will ever change that.
April 15th, 2014 by Michael Biggerstaff