Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania - Printing Industries of America sadly reports Kenneth E. Rizzo, our Director, Technical and Lean Services, passed away suddenly Tuesday, February 15, while on assignment in suburban Boston. "Ken was a loyal and dedicated employee, author, workshop leader, speaker, and one of the world’s most knowledgeable people for production efficiency and excellence," said Michael Makin, President and CEO of Printing Industries of America, when announcing Rizzo's passing.
Ken started working part-time as a press operator while attending Lakewood (OH) High School. After graduation, he was hired by Sherwin-Williams as a press operator at its printing facility in North Olmsted, OH. While working at Sherwin-Williams, Ken obtained his associate's degree in printing from Cuyahoga Community College. He honed his press skills and over time, advanced into production management. When the North Olmsted plant was closed and production moved to a new facility in Fountain Inn, SC, Ken arranged for the equipment to be moved and hired and trained a new production staff. With Ken's help, the company implemented the concepts of what are now known as "Lean manufacturing." Ken quickly recognized the performance gains that came from a well-organized operation where employees had the "right information and tools at the right time." His experience with Lean at Sherwin-Williams was the beginning of a lifelong effort to assist the printing company with those principles.
Wanting to move his family back to Ohio, Ken accepted the job of pressroom manager with Sandusky (OH) Folding Box, but he desired to contribute more to the industry and discovered that the Graphic Arts Technical Foundation (GATF), located in Pittsburgh, was looking to add to its consulting staff. GATF was the preeminent technical and research organization for printing in North America. Ken joined GATF in May 1990 as a consultant conducting numerous technical and production assessments, troubleshooting print problems, performing press/equipment testing and analysis, and training or facilitating programs at printers throughout the industry.
In May 2000, he left to become a process engineer for Gulf States Paper Corp. (now Rock Tenn), one of the country's largest producers of packaging products and paperboard but he returned to the non-profit organization, now known as Printing Industries of America, in late 2006, as the director of consulting services. He was well-known as a highly-experienced process improvement specialist, certified in Six Sigma, ISO 9000, and Lean manufacturing and planned and facilitated numerous 5S, quick changeover, total productive maintenance initiatives, and Kaizen event projects.
As one of Printing Industries authors, Ken always had his finger on the pulse of what printers needed beyond information. In his best-selling book Total Production Maintenance: A Guide for the Printing Industry, he made sure to include access to the worksheets and checklists he mentioned in the book, to make the information even more applicable. "He opted to go the even more practical route with his upcoming Operational Excellence workbook series, minimizing the text and boiling it all down to the step-by-step processes and procedures people could follow and implement in their facilities," noted Amy Woodall, directory of technical information.
In addition, Ken has authored articles in various Printing Industries of America publications--GATFWorld, Management Portfolio, and The Magazine. He also had articles in many of the leading publications for the print and graphic communications industry including American Printer, Contexto Graphica (Mexico), Graphic Arts Monthly, High Volume Printer, Paperboard Packaging, and Printing Impressions. Rizzo's writings and articles have been referenced and quoted in litigation court cases, as well as manufacturers’ customer training.
Rizzo's most recent accomplishment in 2009 was the creation and development of Printing Industries of America's Digital Production Assessment (DPA) and Digital Production Excellence Accreditation (DPEA audit certificate) programs. These unique programs were designed to help and address the distinctive challenges that digital and variable-data printers experience. Rizzo was a noted industry speaker and experienced trainer and educator, instructing on various topics, including Extreme Offset Production, Printing UV, Troubleshooting Printing and Production Problems, and 10 Steps to Operational Excellence.
"Ken was intensely passionate about our industry and helping companies run their operations in a disciplined and intelligent way, cutting out unnecessary waste and expense. He modeled this behavior in his professional life. His talents and energy will be sorely missed," said Jim Workman, assistant vice president of the Center for Technology and Research at Printing Industries of America.
Ken was sixty-one years old. He is survived by his wife, Margaret, sister Corinne Adamonis, father Earl Rizzo, three sons, Douglas, Craig, and Brian, and daughter-in-law Kathryn Rizzo.