by Keith Knapp, SF2012
By way of introduction, seeing as this is my first post, my name is Keith Knapp and for my Fellowship year I have the privilege of working as the inaugural City Hall Fellow at San Francisco International Airport (SFO). I have many ideas which I look forward to delving into over the course of my posts on this site – teasing out the history behind SFO’s San Mateo location, for example – but today I want to focus on a recent experience of mine. A couple days ago, as part of the Business & Finance staff meeting, we took a field trip out to SFO’s Reprographics Office – which is located a short drive from the Airport in Millbrae.
The SFO Reprographics Office space. A variety of work samples were displayed on the table in the center of the picture.
In a nutshell, the Reprographics Division provides the Airport with the photography, layout and printing services required to supply the signage throughout the Airport. Whether they be for wayfinding, marketing or purely aesthetic effect, these signs number in the thousands, so my fellow Biz & Finance staffers cheered when our tour guide informed us that the Reprographics Office is able to cut 50% off the price of a typical poster when compared to what SFO formerly paid outside vendors. Seeing as I am relatively new to this department and position – the field trip actually marked my one month anniversary – I do not desire to use this space to draw conclusions or confer opinions as fact. Rather, I simply wish to share several observations I had during the visit and how they relate to my Fellowship experience thus far.
1. Housed within an unimpressive warehouse space in Millbrae’s version of the dilapidated industrial communities found adjacent to Highway 101 along the entire Peninsula, the first thing that struck me about the Repro Office was the gleaming equipment. Most impressive for me was a long, metallic printer slowly printing a sign that would eventually be displayed on the side of a MUNI bus – a topic which I will get to in observation #2 – and rolling it around a cardboard center. I later looked up the printer, a Soljet Pro III, and found the retail price to be over $30,000! The Office had several of these machines, along with many others, so I was surprised by the amount of SFO money that had been invested within this lonely office over in Millbrae. That is, until I heard that…
These machines print with waterproof ink that can last over 2 months in direct sunlight with no fade!
2. The SFO Repro Office also completes work-orders for the Municipal Transportation Agency and the Port of San Francisco. This makes so much sense to me and ought to serve as an example for other City and County of San Francisco (CCSF) departments. I was elated to find out about this working relationship between SFO and the MTA/Port because one of the things that has stood out most to me over the course of the last month is how isolated SFO often seems relative to the rest of CCSF. While MTA does have its own reprographics department, our tour guide informed us that their department is non-digital; rather than splurging for the high costs of digitization, a decision was made to utilize extra capacity out at the SFO Repro Office to fulfill MTA orders. This inter-reliance that saves the city money was inspiring to see, but was quickly followed by discussion of an area for improvement…3. SFO takes great pride in its museum, which was the first of its kind to be located within an international airport. With over 20 exhibits distributed throughout the Airport and a central museum which is a replica of SFO’s first terminal, the museum would seem to be an ideal candidate to be a heavy user of the Repro Office’s services. However, our tour guide informed us that the museum uses outside vendors – yes, those very ones whose costs can be 50%+ higher! We did not discuss this further with the tour guide, but I can assure you that I and several fellow staffers took mental note.
I would never have expected a visit to the Repro Office to be an intellectually-engaging experience, but I was wrong. I look forward to continuing these site visits in future staff meetings, because innovation – inspiring efforts of collaboration, in this case – can be found anywhere.