By JEFFREY SAULTON
PARKERSBURG - After 60 years in the printing business, Joe Hushion is retiring from an industry where he has seen huge changes.
Joe Hushion over the years has seen the printing industry go from hand-set type and Linotype machines to the digital age. (Photo by Jeffrey Saulton)
Hushion was born May 16, 1930, graduated from Parkersburg High School in 1948 and from West Virginia University in 1952.
Hushion said the printing business was something he had been around all his life.
"My dad was in that, my uncle before him and my grandfather before him," he said. "My brother, John, had Hyde Brothers Printing in Marietta until he sold it."
After his time at West Virginia University he served in the Korean War from 1952-1954 as a first lieutenant of the 24th Infantry Division.
"After Korea I came back to Parkersburg and went in business with my father who had McGlothlin Printing Co.," he said. "When he passed away in 1970, I took it over and then sold to Chapman in 1981.
"In the mean time my son John left WVU and came to work for me in 1979."
Hushion's son is still with the company.
"He's the division manger now, which makes him my boss," he said. "We've come full circle."
Hushion has been a sales consultant for Chapman Printing since 1981 and works in the Parkersburg office. Many of his clients are from when he had his own printing firm.
"I have my own accounts I've had all these years," he said. "I started calling on DuPont in 1955 and they've been a customer ever since."
Changes in local industry can be seen in the clients he once had. Many companies have closed, Husion said.
"A lot of my old customers are gone - Ames, Viscose, Johns Manville, Booth Glass - they're all gone," he said. "We still have big clients, Simonton Windows, United Bank, WesBanco and Peoples Bank, many financial institutions."
Chapman printing has offices in Huntington, Charleston and Clarksburg along with Baton Rouge, La., and Asheville, N.C.
Printing technology have brought the biggest changes in the business, Hushion said.
"When I first started we had Linotype machines," he said. "The changes have been dramatic, that's why I've worked so long just to see the changes that come out every month."
Hushion's own shop did not work with color. In addition to stationery, it printed high school newspapers and yearbooks.
"When we printed the yearbooks that was a huge job for us at the time," he said. "When I think back on it, we had hand-fed folders and hand-fed presses. Today we have four-color presses and six-color presses."
Remembering the Linotypes and setting print by hand, most of that is digitally done today, he said.
"It's amazing the way printing has changed, just like everything," he said.
Hushion said the changes have made the printing business a tough business.
"You can almost go and buy a copier that can make color copies that are very high quality on short run stuff," he said. "But on magazines and books, that's where we excel."
Outside of technology, Hushion said one thing has disappeared from the business.
"I would have to say the biggest change would be no loyalty," he said. "We had customers that were loyal; they never questioned my pricing and never questioned anything we did."
Hushion said Ames was the biggest customer he had when he operated his own shop.
"I not only had customers over there, I had a lot of friends over there," he said. "That is part of the advantage of a hometown company; you can make a lot of friends - friends become customers and customers become friends."
Hushion was a member of the first Urban Renewal Authority in Parkersburg. Many old buildings around the courthouse were torn down in hopes it would revive the downtown, he said.
"Our thinking was wrong, all it did was clear the way for government buildings," he said. "It's not all bad since the town would be hurting without Public Debt."
Those years were interesting, but the authority took much criticism, Hushion said.
"We took a lot and maybe rightfully so," he said. "People don't like change, that was when urban renewal was in it infancy. We wanted to build a river town with gas lights, brick streets closed to traffic but that was a pipe dream and it never happened."
Hushion said he is having a hard time deciding what to do with his time in retirement.
"I don't golf, and I don't hunt and I don't fish," he said. "I played racketball with a bunch of guys for 50 years, but a lot of them are gone now. We had five or six guys; most are gone or too old to play anyway."
Hushion said he may volunteer with places where he has been on boards over the last 35 years.
Over the years he has been active in Little League and Babe Ruth Baseball from 1981 to 2013. He served as president of the Greater Parkersburg Area Chamber of Commerce, Mid-Ohio Valley United Fund and president of the Camden-Clark Memorial Hospital Board of Trustees.
Hushion is still a member of the Camden Clark Foundation and the Board of Directors AAA - West Penn and West Virginia.
For many years Hushion was a local fundraiser for the West Virginia University athletic department. He began his work for his alma mater when the late Jim Carlen was football coach and he remains friends with former WVU head football coach Bobby Bowden.
Winner of the 2010 Wood County Spirit Award, he and his wife, the former Susan Keister, have four daughters, two sons, 11 grandchildren and a great-granddaughter.