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Print Week 2024: Franklinton Award Recipient

Join us for the 2024 Central Region Print Week reception, held again at Brick & Mortar! This unique urban space in the historic Smith Brothers building features rich textures, exposed brick, dark wood beams, and a manicured courtyard, showcasing the site’s intricate history and enduring beauty.

Our Print Week traditions not only include celebrating our Print Excellence Award winners, but we honor individuals and companies who have greatly impacted the industry. This week, we congratulate our Central Region special award recipient.

In the early 1970’s, the Printing Industry of Central Ohio and the Columbus Club of Printing House Craftsmen came together and created the Franklinton Award. The first was awarded in 1974 and has continued each year to be presented to individuals or groups who have made outstanding public contributions to the Central Ohio community. This award, the highest recognition made by the Central Ohio graphic arts industry, honors Benjamin Franklin, the patron saint of the printing industry, who dedicated his life to the betterment of his community and country.

In 2008, Printing Industries of Ohio • N.Kentucky, now Graphic Media Alliance, began presenting this prestigious award to a member of the industry who had made significant contributions to our central Ohio graphic arts community, as opposed to a community leader/contributor.

The Franklinton Award will be presented to a person who:

  • Is of high principles and integrity
  • Shares time and talent to work toward the advancement of the printing industry
  • Works for the betterment of society through civic, community or religious involvements
  • Has current or recent (within past 5 years) involvement with Graphic Media Alliance

Congratulations to our 2024 Franklinton Award winner, Michael Fisher of Kenwel Printers!

Kenwel Printers, Inc. located on Indianola Avenue in Clintonville was founded in 1952 by John (and Virginia) Worrel and Ken Taylor. Mike Fisher has been a driving force at Kenwel for 50 of the 72 years the printing and mailing company has been in business.

Mike shares, “When people ask about Kenwel Printers and who we are, I tell them we are a job shop. We are going to do whatever it takes to get the end product the customer wants.”

Inspired by his father who was a bookbinder that ran a pen ruling machine, Mike's career journey began at Columbus Central High School, where he started his path in the printing trade. It was during this time that he demonstrated exceptional talent and dedication, earning recognition for his skills and work ethic in the field from none other than Kenwel Co-Founder, John Worrell.

After graduating in 1974, Mike wasted no time in pursuing his passion. He immediately dove into the workforce, joining Kenwel Printers, Inc. as a pressman when printing was a blend of tradition, craftsmanship, and hard work, with a strong emphasis on quality and customer satisfaction. Mike believes the values that John Worrell instilled in Kenwel, and his vision are key factors that have contributed to his own success and longevity in the industry.

Over the years, Mike honed his skills, embraced challenges, and displayed exemplary leadership qualities that propelled him on to management positions. Meeting customer deadlines sometimes meant bringing his kids back to work with him. Mike said he would give them some paper and markers and they would do their artwork. He attributes his strong work ethic to his parents, Bill and Mary Fisher.

Mike's unwavering dedication lies in delivering results that exceed customer expectations, even in the face of challenging projects. Throughout his celebrated career at Kenwel, he has primarily excelled in production management. However, Mike's versatility shines through as he transitions into roles in sales and customer service whenever the need arises. His willingness to take on any required role shows his commitment to the success of both the organization and Kenwel’s customers. He is particularly proud of projects that help a customer get the results they are looking for – no matter how difficult they may be.

Through the years Mike has held high regard and respect for his co-workers. Modest in his abilities, there was a time early in his career where he was asked to manage a department, but he declined the position because out of fairness, he felt like there were individuals who had been with the company longer and believed “his time” would eventually come. Mike eventually became part-owner along with others serving in leadership roles. He was named senior vice president and board chair in 2010. Then in 2020, Mike received the official title of president and became sole owner of the company - amidst a global pandemic.

Kenwel has evolved with innovation (digital technology, automation, sustainability, personalization, etc.) while steadfastly keeping its commitment to traditional offset methods, offering customers a diverse array of options tailored to their budget, time frame, and quantity requirements. Mike is always amazed at how the industry is ever evolving.

The Kenwel team consists of seventeen employees with over 350 years combined experience in the printing/graphic media industry. Kenwel’s ability, quality work and customer service has resulted in business relationships and friendships that have lasted for decades. Kenwel has served clients both nationally and locally here in the central Ohio region. To this day, Mike is still very much involved in the day-to-day operations making sure each job is done to the customers’ satisfaction.

In addition to customer relationships, employee relationships are important to Mike. Throughout the pandemic when printing orders were at an all-time low, Kenwel made sure all employees could remain on the payroll. In return, the employees stepped up during the unprecedented time to help customers, service equipment and keep things moving forward through all the uncertainty.

In 2021, amidst the challenges posed by COVID and the evolving dynamics of the print industry, Mike found himself at a crossroads, needing to make complex decisions. A pivotal decision was made to divest one of the company's buildings, strategically streamlining resources and bringing the entire team closer together. In addition, essential equipment upgrades and building updates were made, laying the groundwork for further enhancements down the pipeline.

Mike believes in supporting local businesses and the community. Over the years Kenwel has been a member of the Columbus and Delaware Area Chambers of Commerce, along with the Clintonville Area Business Association. Throughout its history, Kenwel has sponsored and provided donations to local schools and community resource programs.

Along with his full-time schedule at Kenwel, Mike has worked as a Red Coat for Ohio State Athletics for nearly 20 years assisting guests attending OSU sporting events. He currently serves in a supervisory role with the Red Coats.

Mike is a member of the GMA Board of Directors and serves on the Central Ohio Advisory Council as well as PIEF. He volunteers his time at industry events, and actively advocates printing as a promising career path.

Mike’s advice to up and coming generations, “Print and graphic media is everywhere. Find your fit and expand on it.”

Reflecting over the years, Mike is grateful for the support he has received - first, from his wife Stephanie and their daughters, Lauren and Nancy. He is also thankful for his co-workers at Kenwel and emphasizes he could not have made it without the whole team.

Mike’s response to his nomination for the Franklinton Award, “To be recognized by your peers is a great honor. I am truly humbled. There is still more I want to accomplish before retiring.”

We look forward to you joining us at Brick and Mortar on Thursday, March 7 to honor this well-deserving award winner. Registration details can be found below. 

Print Week Celebrations

In the Southern Region, join us at the annual Southern Region reception to celebrate the winners of the Print Excellence Awards and cast your vote for the People's Choice Award. We'll also be recognizing the recipient of the 37th Maxwell Award and unveiling the 2024 Printer of the Year. Save the date for Thursday, February 29, and the festivities begin at 6:00 pm.

The Backstage Event Center
625 Walnut St.
Cincinnati, OH 45202

We'll see you tonight!!

Join us at the Central Region reception on Thursday, March 7, at 6:00 pm, as we pay tribute to the winners of the Print Excellence Awards. Be part of the celebration not only for the outstanding print achievements but also to applaud the recipient of the prestigious 2024 Franklinton Award. Your presence will make the evening truly special!

Brick & Mortar
580 N. 4th St.
Columbus, OH 43215

Register Today!

Experience the perfect blend of enjoyment and recognition at the Northern Region event on Thursday, March 14, kicking off at 6:00 pm. Beyond honoring the Print Excellence Awards winner, we will also be inducting a distinguished new member into the Hall of Distinction. This promises to be the pinnacle of the print scene – an event not to be overlooked!

Cibréo Privato
1501 E. 14th St.
Cleveland, OH 44115

Register Today!

In the Michigan Region, join us in commemorating the Print Excellence Awards winners on Thursday, March 21, beginning at 6:00 pm. Be there to discover the outstanding printed pieces that clinched gold, silver, and bronze, and find out which companies will be honored with the Best of Region title and the coveted People's Choice Award. Don't miss this opportunity to witness excellence in print!

New Location This Year:

The Rabbit Hole - Located Inside The Circ Bar
210 South 1st Street
Ann Arbor, MI 48104

Register Today!

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