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Remembering a master of industrial marketing

Oct 1, 2010 12:00 AM


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Editor's note: Consultant and columnist Dick Gorelick passed away Sunday, Sept. 12, 2010, at age 71. AP editor Katherine O'Brien offers this appreciation.

One reader dubbed him “the master of industrial marketing.” Others told us they eagerly anticipated Dick's insights, turning immediately to his column.

“Well, you've done it again,” wrote Terry Corman after reading Dick's June 2008 piece on sales compensation. “Great article. Thank goodness very few people pay attention to you, or I would have a bunch of strong competitors.”

Those who did listen profited from Dick's wisdom. Bob Tursack, CEO of Brilliant Graphics (Exton, PA) credited Dick with helping his company “see ourselves as a business that helps our customers make money rather than [just] a printer. Everything we do today, from the way we answer our phones to the way we present finished jobs to customers, has been influenced by him.”

A gifted writer

Dick made his AMERICAN PRINTER debut in January 2001, but his byline was a fixture in graphic arts publications. Before joining AP, Gorelick contributed a marketing column to Graphic Arts Monthly for 15 years.

“I've had some income writing for 40 years,” he told me. “Radio journalism is the world's greatest discipline in communicating. That explains my use of simple sentences (including this one).”

He was the past president of the American Marketing Assn. and Charles Parlin Foundation at the University of Pennsylvania Wharton School. In 2008, the Graphic Arts Assn. (Philadelphia) honored him as its Neographics' Person of the Year.

Dick was a Phi Beta Kappa graduate of the University of Missouri. He enjoyed reminding me that he served on the national Mother's Day and Father's Day committees despite having no children and assumed the presidency of two American Marketing Assn. chapters despite having never taken a business course. Dick also worked with Kansas City officials to help secure a public television station license.

“All of this has led me to believe that the patron saint of consultants is the late Sonny Bono,” said Dick. “He said, ‘I've never done anything for which I'm qualified.’”

Clients and competitors admired his talent and drive. “He would start a week on the West Coast and end it on the East Coast after visiting five clients,” recalled friend and fellow printing consultant Ray Prince. “That was a brutal schedule to say the least.”

Dick was thrifty. “He seemed to have a love affair with Red Roof Inns — this was his effort to save the client money,” said Prince. “He loved Chinese food and could eat it every night.”

He was not afraid to get in the trenches. “He not only talked marketing and sales but actually went with salespeople on calls to instruct them,” said Prince. People respected the Brooklyn native's outspokenness. As Prince said: “Dick either liked you or did not like you — and you knew it.”

Although he was occasionally uncomfortably candid when discussing the latest blunderings of his favorite airline, U.S. Air, or referring to an industry trade show as “The Annual Overcapacity Festival,” Dick radiated hope even when his own health became dire.

Dick was primarily treated at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center. The surgery and follow-up care he had over the years was complex and surely often unpleasant and painful. To hear Dick's accounts, however, you would think he was residing at a wonderful writer's colony. “There's nothing wrong with my mind,” he would say. “I can work anywhere.”

Indeed, Dick must have cornered the market on legal pads. Judy Miller, Dick's long time administrator at the Graphic Arts Sales Foundation, “magically and efficiently converts my handwritten copy into digital form,” Dick said.

When Judy retired, Dick sent her on the vacation of her dreams. This was typical of Dick's thoughtfulness. When I was diagnosed with cancer, Dick was among the first to call. He continued to check up on me and offer encouragement.

Courage and vision

Dick was smart, funny and humble. “A consultant or writer can do nothing,” he said after being named Neographics' Person of the Year. “The risk is borne by those who have the resources, courage and vision to engage in implementation. In truth, our clients deserve the award. To the sense that I feel a sense of achievement, it is attributable to an association with those who shared our ideas and had the courage and acumen to act on those ideas.”


Our condolences to Dick's wife, Myrna, and his many friends in the printing industry. In lieu of flowers, contributions may be made to Memorial Sloan-Kettering, P.O. Box 7105, Philadelphia, PA 19176 and/or The Missouri School of Journalism, 103 Neff Hall, Columbia, MO 65211.

MORE TO COME

Dick was a prolific and proactive writer. He worked well ahead of his deadline — we look forward to sharing these columns in future issues.