Finished with academia—or so he thought—Joe returned to the private sector, as manager of training and technologies at Anderson & Vreeland. Hired by—who else?—Howard “Howie” B Vreeland Jr., FTA Hall of Fame member and chairman of A&V, he remarks, “Joe has been destined, ever since I met him, to be in education. He was very good with students of all ages and when he needed to transit his teaching job to one of training our employees, it was seamless. He very quickly developed training programs, which he shared with people all over the world, especially when he traveled with me.”
Vreeland further comments, “He commanded people’s attention, all the while teaching them the whys and wherefores of color, plate making and how to print better color by measurements.
“When the job at FTA became available, I could not have been prouder than to see him start to mold our flexo industry into one being trained by systems he helped develop and shared with us.”
Pointing to a comical and shared experience, Vreeland explains, “Probably the funniest day I had with Joe was when we traveled to Hitler’s Eagles Nest by train and he slept through the entire passage through the Alps, snoring the entire way, and missing some of the most beautiful scenery… Congrats Joe, the flexo industry is better because you cared and shared.”
“I knew that as much as Joe loved working for A&V, his heart and soul lied in the educational arena,” Cisternino points out. “We always kept in touch and talked about our thoughts on what the flexographic industry really needed in the way of an effective, real-world based training and educational program. The more we talked… the more we convinced ourselves that we had to do it!”
Based on FTA’s Strategic Planning Initiative, Cisternino approached Joe to pick his brain about a new endeavor the Association was embarking on: online training and certification. The two kicked around ideas, also with input from Dr. John Anderson, FTA’s technical director at the time, and wound up with a business plan that was missing one key component: money.
“With impeccable timing, Ron and Katherine Harper, founders of Harper Corporation of America, read the business plan and offered to make a $1 million donation to get the program off the ground, with the agreement that Joe would come work for FTA and spearhead it,” Cisternino reports. “Joe joined FTA in 2007 as its education director, where he would go on to grow the Association’s fledgling training program and guide the most important educational endeavor FTA had ever undertaken, the Technical Education Services Team.”
Fellow Hall of Famer Paul Lancelle, service manager – US & Canada, Miraclon, who first met Joe during his Dunwoody days, says he can vividly remember the program’s inception. “I was chairman of the FFTA Board of Trustees at the time. The Association was in the midst of some very rough financial times. Ron and Katherine Harper had made a very generous monetary offer intended to get everything started, but there remained a great deal of hesitancy among the Board of Directors related to whether the program would ultimately be successful, as well as the potential long-term financial ramifications.”
He remembers, “On the eve of the board meeting where the ultimate decision would be made, I sat down with Joe and asked him to look me straight in the eye and tell me whether or not this program was going to get off the ground. I’ll never forget his answer. He said, ‘Paul, I’ve never believed in anything so strongly in my life. This will not fail. This single initiative is going to turn this whole Association around.’ And the rest, as they say, is history.”
That history includes some real, tangible numbers—a collective total of more than 3,000 Press Operator Certifications, 1,000+ Prepress Operator Certifications, better than 2,000 Implementation Specialist Certifications and seven Company Certifications; plus recertification numbers that now surpass 1,000 and, at any given moment, 600+ active trainees in FTA’s Virtual Campus.
Lancelle mentions, “From my perspective, the two endearing influences that turned the tide for FTA were Mark Cisternino’s leadership and Joe Tuccitto’s steadfast dedication and unwavering passion.” He explains further, “Joe has definitely taken one for the team on multiple occasions. Joe and I have worked together on multiple projects and initiatives over the years, from Excellence in Flexography Awards judging to webinars to planning of FORUM and Fall Conference presentations and sessions. He’s always been a pro’s pro. I’ve learned a lot from him.”
Of note, Lancelle says, “And, we’ve always found a way to keep it fun, too… like when he sneaks a slide or two into the end of an unsuspecting speaker’s presentation. There’s been a lot of laughs over the years. That’s what I cherish the most.”
On a personal level, Lancelle shares this thought: “Joe and Kim are the neatest couple in that they share the same passion: for family, friends, flexo, the Minnesota Vikings, fishing, you name it. They are, literally, always in the same boat together.”