BTB Dixon1

Lance Dixon, owner of Dixon Graphics, checks the color on sheets coming out of the digital offset press at his shop Monday, March 9, 2020, in Champaign.

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The last time the world economy was teetering on the brink of disaster, Lance Dixon made a move you wouldn’t have found in the small business owner playbook of the late 2000s.

And boy oh boy, is he ever glad he did.

“When my business was struggling financially after the Great Recession, I doubled down and bought a new printing press and another printing company,” he says. “Looking back, it was the watershed moment that put the company on the right track.”

Next year, the digital print shop the Oak Lawn native founded — Dixon Graphics — will celebrate anniversary No. 20 at the only address it’s ever known (105 W. John St., C).

Its owner/president took time out to answer a few questions from Editor Jeff D’Alessio in the 15th installment of our weekly speed read spotlighting local leaders of organizations big and small.

My philosophy on meetings is ... the fewer, the better, and ‘ABD’ — Always Bring Donuts.

The hardest thing about being a leader is ... knowing that the decisions you make affect everyone associated with your business.

The worst job I ever had was ... working in a meat-processing plant in Chicago. I was 18 and worked full-time during the summer to earn money for college. The work was grueling and I was covered in meat juices by the end of the day. I gained a profound respect for the workers who worked there day in and day out, while I knew that my time at the plant would end by late August.

My single favorite moment of all-time in this job was ... paying off the last of my several start-up loans 10 years after opening the business.

I can’t live without ... camping, hiking, canoeing or just your basic time away-from-it-all.

My business role model is ... not a person, but the idea of Conscious Capitalism, which talks about how a business has a responsibility to all of its stakeholders. This includes owners, employees, vendors and the greater community — all of which support the business and benefit from the business.

I’m frugal in that ... once a month, I take the time to track and evaluate spending on a monthly basis, both personally and for the company.

My one unbreakable rule for employees is ... you must care about the quality of your work.

The last luxury in which I indulged was ... a trip to Colorado. About the only thing I like to spend money on is travel, when we can take the time to do it.

The most beneficial college class I took was ... the History of Science at the University of Illinois. Sometimes, great scientific discoveries were happy accidents. This taught me to look for the positive in any situation and be open to outcomes I hadn’t expected. I also gained a global perspective learning that scientific advancement has been a slow march with contributions from cultures around the world.

I’m up and at ’em every day by ... 6:30 a.m.

When it comes to my exercise routine ... it isn’t really a routine but I walk as much as possible.

The next big thing in my line of work is ... high-speed inkjet printing. Dixon Graphics brought the first digital offset press to Champaign and I hope to pioneer high-speed inkjet once the technology matures.

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