Vivid Impact Manufacturing Spotlight: Bryan Shiftlet, Folder/Gluer Operator

In today’s fast-paced job market, there’s something to be said about an employee who remains with their employer for many years. Bryan Shiflet, Folder/Gluer Operator for Vivid Impact, turned an opportunity to simply try out print mechanics into a longer-term career – remaining a team member now for nine and a half years.

After being laid off from a nearby steel mill, Bryan came to Vivid to begin work on the pocket folder machine. “I worked at the steel mill because it was a job, but at Vivid I learned a skill set that I could carry on and use in the future.” By creating meaningful jobs, paying a livable wage and fostering a company culture of engaged and empowered employees, Vivid Impact hopes to attract more team members like Bryan Shiftlet – ones who will “stick around” to experience all of the exciting changes to come.

With the dire shortage of students looking to enter trades after high school, it’s important to highlight to the younger generations the value of this type of long-lasting career path. Working with machines and in production can be both dynamic and rewarding. A recent article from NPR and data from the U.S. Department of Education explained that trade careers and apprenticeships have strong benefits:

  1. Wage-to-debt ratio for trade jobs is more balanced than a bachelor’s degree – trades and apprenticeships pay employees while they learn, while education loans plunge many college students into debt

With Vivid Impact’s recent “Good to Brilliant” campaign underway, Shiftlet said he is starting to see positive changes to not only the workplace, but also the projects coming in to be printed. “I’m starting to see new customers come in, and the pieces that we are getting to work on are more complex. It makes you feel good about coming to work, because it’s different everyday now. I like to see change here and there.”

Although print technology has changed dramatically over the last decade, some printing equipment still stands tried and true to complete projects. “I’m on the Brausse folder/gluer – even after five years of running it, the capabilities are pretty intriguing.”

  1. Skilled workers are more likely to find work than their academic counterparts – companies in many industries like construction, carpentry, electrical and manufacturing are struggling to find qualified workers, and offering competitive wages and benefits to meet their needs.

Bryan describes Vivid as a diverse and interesting company where an employee can grow and work in different areas. “It’s a really nice atmosphere,” Shiftlet explained. “The coworker camaraderie here is pretty cool. I just like what I see – you can do almost anything here.”

  1. Skilled workers are significantly more likely to be working in their field of study – the emphasis on a 4-year university track forces many high school students to choose a degree program and career path without knowing what they really want to do; specialized trade career paths are more likely to fit individual preferences.

People don’t often consider the patience and skill it takes to make pieces like these. To make an intricately designed piece you must have both the right machine, and the right chain of people to craft it. From the creative team to pre-press, printers, and finishing touches like stitching, folding and gluing, each step is equally significant.

John Ford, Press Room Bindery Manager at Vivid Impact reminds us “The old saying is you’re only as strong as your weakest link, but every link matters. You could pick a project and there may be 65 people that actually touch it from the infancy stages of creation until the finished piece. You can’t have step 56 if you don’t have 55. Every step matters. If you don’t have the complete chain, you’re not going anywhere.”

Bryan talked about the enjoyment of working on complex print projects that come through from Vivid clients; the latest Southern Comfort and di Amore liqueur boxes are perfect examples.I fold and glue the inserts on the boxes, so I’m one of the final stops before it goes to the customer – the finishing touch.”

Together with our structural designer we had to work to make sure that the design could be manufacturable – to ensure that it was able to be run on the folder gluer that Bryan operates. This deep knowledge of the machinery guaranteed that we were able to come through for our client – eliminating hand production time, reducing overall production time, and costs for our client. Learn more about Vivid’s Custom Engineering Process >

Shifltet offers additional advice for anyone interested in entering the field:

“Have a lot of patience. It’s not necessarily difficult, but stressful at times with the tight deadlines you have. Sometimes you have machine trouble when you’re trying to get a piece to run. It can be stressful, but also rewarding when you actually get things to work and get them done.” -Bryan Shiftlet, Folder/Gluer Operator

The Vivid Impact print facility houses over 60 pieces of equipment and employs roughly 150 team members. In addition, Vivid Impact offers the unique and specialized capabilities of a robust creative team, IT team, sales and marketing team, customer service department and fulfillment center.

Learn more about printing services at Vivid Impact.