Paying It Forward
Steve Smiley, Hall of Fame member and principal of Smiley Color & Associates, maintains, “Joe has brought innovative teaching methods to FTA. As a coach to presenters, he constantly succeeds in developing content that is relevant to printers and gets it delivered in a way that audiences understand.”
He recalls, “When I complained about FIRST training not having reference to standards, I was blessed to find myself working with Joe for the next year, to add the standards in relevant places in FIRST training. The most successful things I have been a part of have been Joe’s innovations—”De-Geek the Geeks,” for example. From my standpoint, Joe has changed the face of FTA… Thanks to Joe’s suggestions, we have grown as an organization to understand standards and process control.”
Smiley adds, “Joe is one of my closest friends. While developing training programs, staying at his home in January with temperatures -20 to -40, moved us to a new level of family. I feel more at home with Joe and Kim, than much of my own. I can call or chat with him before 6:00 a.m. most any day. When standards need updating or re-writing is required, he schedules time to write, edit and update it. Joe is always there to help his fellow flexographers.”
In wrapping up, Smiley insists, “Joe always works hard to help others look good! He has edited my presentations and documents for many years—always providing suggestions and feedback to build a presentation that compels the reader/listener. I’ve never seen Joe look to personal gain, but to build up others around him—a very admirable quality in our world today.”
Close friend Kim Madigan, director of corporate color management at Smyth Companies LLC, credits Joe with being an ever-present influence on her career. In fact, at his urging, she has become increasingly more involved with FTA and stands as a frequent printer presenter at FTA events.
She professes, “Joe has been testing, implementing, educating and talking to people about the flexo print industry for many years. He pretty much eats, drinks and breaths flexo!” Reflecting on personal interaction, Madigan starts, “I met Joe over 25 years ago, while working at a sheetfed litho print company through my new friendship with his wife, Kim. I had just left a flexo company, and working in offset was not challenging enough. I needed someone to talk to about flexo.”
“When I met Joe, I started talking about flexo, and we never stopped talking about flexo,” she continues. “We stayed friends through Joe’s flexo journey, and he helped me to put a color control process in place at Smyth years before FIRST existed.”
Further elaborating on their teamwork, Madigan notes, “Joe and I have worked on so many projects, tests, training and presentations together, that Joe has become one of my best friends. I’m not sure what FTA would be without the educational development that Joe dreamt of and put in place. All of us can take advantage of a true educational organization that is a partner with suppliers and printers.”
Flexography is not all they talk about. “He loves music! We were at a conference in Chicago and he called me up and asked, ‘Hey Kim, you like U2, right?’ I was like, ‘Of course.’ We got last-minute tickets to the first night’s concert in the US tour! Oh, and Yes! First row in Wrigley stadium. We talk about it all the time to this day!”
La Famiglia Flexography
Joe may sound like he puts flexography first. Truth be told, he is a devoted husband, father and grandfather. “Family means everything to him, and he shows that in his day-to-day interactions,” Kim says of her husband, noting how much familial gatherings mean to her.
Having spent decades together and in the same industry—Kim currently works remotely for Smyth Companies in its prepress department—packaging remains a topic of conversation, with the two constantly comparing and analyzing prints. “I’ll say, ‘Oh, look! We do those labels!’ and I’ll be pulling samples off shelves and checking out the linescreen, vignettes, how the flesh tones all match across the particular family of labels,” she explains. “It doesn’t matter what we’re shopping for or where we happen to be shopping—Whether it’s a box that something we bought comes in, or something on a shelf, we are always looking at the package in a completely different way than your average shopper.”
Joe has two sons—Guido and Mario—and two grandsons—Aiden and Dominic. Continuing a tradition he enjoyed as a tyke, the flexographers Tuccitto have taken their family up north, to Leech Lake, since 1997. They now own a vacation home on the property and use it as a spot at which to swim, fish and catch up with old friends. “In his spare time, he likes to go to the gym—often at 3 a.m.—go boating, roast coffee beans, watch Vikings games and head up to the North Shore in the fall/winter with our dog Able,” Kim details.
And just as Joe has built a way to develop and train future industry members, so too has he passed on his work ethic to the next generation of Tuccitto flexographers. Kim proudly reports, “Guido, who is married to Bree and is father to Aiden and Dominic, now works for AWT as an ink technician. He spent a number of years as a press assistant at Smyth Companies and also worked for Hood Packaging as a wide web plate mounter.
“Mario specializes in marketing and sales. He too did not escape the draw of flexo. During his summers while in college, he worked as a press assistant and plate mounter at Smyth. And there is always the chance he will someday put his marketing and public relations degree to use in the flexography field. Flexo has been good for our family, but you know what? Joe has been good for flexo!” Kim surmises.
As Mark Mazur sees it, Joe’s past successes—like leading the Technical Education Services Team, moving to digitally publish FIRST and Flexography: Principles & Practices (FP&P), and learning the intricacies of digital rights management—demonstrate his passion.
Mazur, who is also a Hall of Fame member, proclaims, “It is Joe’s willingness to address all obstacles head-on that really sets him apart. His good nature and willingness to share with anyone and everyone make him the go-to guy. It is truly a privilege to work with Joe.”
He adds, “Joe is a rare individual who has done almost everything when it comes to flexography.” Referencing a penchant for rising early, Mazur explains, “Joe is also dedicated and focused on getting tasks done. I would call him at 6:00 a.m. my time, 5:00 a.m. his time, and we would start working. For months we would Zoom—four hours a day. Together we read every word in FIRST 7.0 twice, his obsession to detail is amazing. I think the world of Joe.”
Kim agrees, adding that Joe’s impact has been so great because, from the beginning, he has believed FTA has the ability to bring tremendous value and advancement to flexography. “Joe loves FTA; he always has. He believes FTA is exactly what the industry needs… The people at FTA that he works with, and the colleagues and friends he has made in the industry, mean the world to him. He loves where flexography is going now and moving forward.”
Cisternino puts it all in perspective, “The Technical Education Services Team is Joe, and Joe is the Technical Education Services Team!” he exclaims. “As much as he likes to very generously share credit, this program’s success and the value that it provides to the flexographic industry, are a direct result of Joe’s diverse experience, tenacious drive, and intense passion to make a significant positive impact on people’s lives.”