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FLEXO Magazine : May 2010
FTA TODAY www.flexography.org mAY 2010 FLEXO 39 Skills enhancement was always on Charlie’s mind, ac - cording to Riddell. “C harlie was already established on FTA’s Board of Directors, when I came aboard. He was engaged in starting up the FlexSys training program for both narrow web and wide web. He developed training manuscripts for FTA and the industry, as well as curriculums for colleges, high schools and other educational institutions. He was always active—traveling around speaking and doing things. From Fo- rums to conferences, to Saturday one-day workshops, Charlie was there; and when he was, he contributed willingly and dra- matically to the proceedings. Everything Charlie Brown did, he did with a lot of enthusiasm. His commitment to FTA and flexography was strong and very, very apparent.” Denny McGee, MPS America, another FTA Hall of Fame member, expresses similar thoughts. “ Very knowledgeable... Really pushing technology—plates, press, etc.—along... Always winning awards... To me that is and will always be Charlie Brown. ” Joe Trungale, often considered one of flexo’s historians, himself an FTA Hall of Fame member, remem- bers working with Charlie on a number of FTA Committees. “Charlie has always been a very joyful, great guy with a very pleasant personality. He was very dedicated to improving flexo print- ing in his company. His success story is one for the history books.” Others, like long-time friend Randy Buckley, president of Buckley Graphics, feel Charlie’s sto- ry should be more aptly relegated to the humor pages. “Charlie’s a real card, always kidding, always laughing. He and I always had a blast at FFTA Forums, especially the one in New Orleans. We always teased each other about our abilities to make the most of the meeting and somehow find time for lots of recreational activities as well. “Charlie and I met when George Parisi, then FTA president, drafted us on to the FlexSys Training Committee and tasked our group with devising the very first FTA training manuals and curriculums. The two of us, of course, focused on narrow web and participated in monthly meet- ings that necessitated we spend the night in Chicago. Day No. 1 of that project, Charlie pulled out pictures of the Topflight operation and the presses that the company built itself—right there on the premises. I think, I said something like, ‘They look like they were built in Poland.’” C harlie broke out in hysterical laughter. We’ve been friends ever since.” Buckley calls Charlie his mentor, as well as a real pal. “ Topflight had such specialty clientele and was engaged in very unique endeavors— like production of fire extinguisher labels. The engineering staff responsible for making all the plant’s equip- ment was top rate. Charlie was able to show me all kinds of things. I could look to him for advice whenever I needed an assist, no matter what challenge we were facing. He was always one phone call away....Still is. “Charlie is one of the most knowledgeable people, if not the most knowledgeable person that I’ve met in this industry,” Buckley continues. “ He enjoys life. I’ve been with him in all sorts of situations. I’ve even seen him take down a deer— not a live one, rather a plastic lawn model—right in Dick Schwartz’ (Aladdin Label’s president), Wisconsin front yard. It marked the culmination of that day ’s golf outing with my Dad (Jim), brother J.P ., Dick and Charlie. What a fun time—one of countless experiences that Charlie and I have shared. I can hardly wait for the next one.” Flexo Spark IgnIted Born and raised in Harrisburg, PA, in a family of three boys, Charlie remains close with his brothers, who all enjoy trekking off to the mountains, hunting and holiday get-togethers with the extended family—gatherings usually held at Charlie and his wife Sue’s home in Thomasville, PA. Charlie credits an art teacher from his youth and his days at The York Academy of Art with having the greatest influence on his professional career of any single person. During high school and art school, if he wasn’t fixing or racing cars, he was toiling away at the local bakery on most nights, but he abandoned that job when he and Sue were married. Char- lie recalls, “Marriage required I get a real job and that was my introduction to flexo printing. I started in the Topflight art department in 1961. At the time, I really did not think I’d stay in the flexo printing industry, as the flexo house did not require any great talent on the drafting board. The processing was crude in the early 1960s, as I recall flexo in those days was little more than rubber-stamp printing.” Elaborating on the point, the 2010 FTA Hall of Fame in- ductee says, “My interest in mechanics sparked my interest in flexography, and is probably responsible for hooking me Charlie Brown (second from right) with friends J.P Buckley (left), Bruce Riddell (second from left) and Randy Buckley (right). FLX_May10_sec1.indd 39 4/19/10 1:12 PM