If you have ever attended a TAC-produced event (like the upcoming TAC Legislative Conference), then you have seen products that have passed through the hands and under the scrutiny of Print Services Production Supervisor Dirk Ruedas, who works in TAC’s Print and Mail Services Division.
The team, working in the Association’s basement print shop, produces everything from conference programs and signage, to TAC’s legislative reports and legal handbooks, to promotional materials such as flyers, mugs and T-shirts.
Ruedas came to TAC 6 1/2 years ago with more than 30 years of printing experience. He is one of four team members who spend up to 14-hour days printing, proofing, trimming, binding and distributing TAC products. He also helps prepare files for print, calculates costs and tracks each project through a web-based project management system. The group completes between 50 and 100 projects each month. Additionally, the team is responsible for operating 15 machines.
With that volume of work, it would be easy to fall behind or miss something, but not for Ruedas. He is organized and eagle-eyed. “My typical day starts by setting up the daily production schedule. I prioritize what projects get printed when,” he said. “I do a lot of paperwork, like logging jobs with their costs.”
Ruedas also knows that his teammates enable his success. “I might be biased, but I think we have one of the best teams in TAC,” he said.
And time matters. Deadlines are set in stone for the Print Shop — you can’t change the date of a conference because the signs haven’t been printed yet — but there are times they don’t get the print-ready files when promised due to unforeseen circumstances.
The process from start to finish for all print projects involves many people, from many departments. Think of it like a train where at each stop you pick up a necessary passenger without whom you aren’t allowed to reach your final destination. So, at each stop, you collect one more person, but at stop four, the person is late. So you have to wait because you can’t go on without them. But, and here’s the hitch, you must arrive at the final stop by midnight or the whole train is derailed. If you have one — or many — late pick-ups along the way, then you better crank up the speed during that last leg and fly to the finish before the clock strikes 12.
That final leg is Print and Mail Services. They never leave a passenger behind or let the train go off the rails. And a large part of that is due to the efficiencies and focus Ruedes brings to the team.
“He is a team player and always has what it takes to make the work process complete,” said Print Services Operations Manager Raul Martinez. “He is an example to those around him. He shows leadership and skill in what he does.”
When he’s not in the basement of teh TAC building making sure every printed project is completed beautifully, Ruedas is with his family. “I’m following my 15-year-old all over the state and country, watching him play baseball. We as a family have more time to bond,” he said. His family also includes his wife of 29 years, TAC Legislative Department Operations Manager Amy Ruedas. They also have a 25-year-old son. “He’s getting married in 2020,” Ruedas said enthusiastically. “So we have that to plan for, which is exciting.”
It’s evident to anyone who meets Ruedas that he finds joy in making others smile. “Dirk makes the atmosphere around him shine,” said Martinez. “He is a true friend and a great coworker.”
Ruedas added, I am very grateful to be working here at TAC and I am blessed to work with Raul Martinez, Noe Rodriguez and Brian Saucedo — the Print Shop Boys!”
So, while wandering the halls of the Fairmont Hotel in September — looking through all the printed materials — remember that each one of those projects went through the fingers of Ruedas. Without his attention to detail and focus that helped keep the train on the track, there might not be quite as much magic at the event.