Jose Joseph: The industry’s guardian angel

Jose Joseph is one of the pillars of KMPA. The association was always a dynamic one and devoted to doing a lot of work under the leadership of R Suresh. Later on, Jose Sir added another dimension to it. His designation at KMPA was ‘co-ordinator’ but what he did was way beyond that. A tribute by Raju Kutty

14 Jun 2023 | By Ramu Ramanathan

Raju Kutty is director of Purandara Laser Technologies; and chairman of KMPA’s Print and Beyond seminar

Jose Joseph Sir’s ways of instilling an idea in each and every one of us was through an early morning or late evening phone call. He would never be in a hurry. Very meticulously he would go through our schedule. In between he would inject an idea (very gently) about the task or project. It would be very specific and the manner in which the conversation plodded on, it would leave us energised and looking forward to undertaking the task on-hand.

In this manner, Jose Sir manufactured a team. He did this person by person, tapping the talent-pool, and then nurturing and allocating the appropriate portfolios. His sense of humour was terrific and unlike anything that I had seen before or after.

During one such phone call, he gently told me that the Print Miracle magazine is “something we need to fix “. He spoke to me in a way that enthused me. It was turning point. Jose Sir was inviting me to contribute to something truly meaningful to Print Miracle. On cue, I was appointed the editor. Upto then, I had been visiting him as a material salesman. To this day I have no idea as to why he felt I could do the job of an editor. But that one phone call set me off on my KMPA journey.

From helming The Printers Castle, to confabulating with the CEO of a fully equipped factory with multicolour presses, pre-press and post-press, to making an ink salesman feel comfortable, Jose Sir touched the lives of many a print soldier. His ability to build teams, manage egos, solve problems (including the most vexed issues) was uncanny.

I remember a post-press job work finisher who was struggling with his business due to multiple reasons. One of the reasons was his inability to get his platen die-cutting and stitching machines serviced. As a result, productivity issues were bogging him down. I remember Jose Sir requesting me to accompany him when he went to meet the gentleman. On cue, Jose Sir sourced a local technician to solve his machines problems. Those were machines which I had sold to this trade finisher. This was a few years ago; and now they were out of warranty. That’s when I realised that Jose Sir was gently prodding me. He wanted to show me the importance of supporting machines and equipment. The empathy with which Jose Sir supported this humble trade finisher has remained with me since that day.

When Jose sir passed away, this finisher penned a moving tribute to Jose Sir in the form of a poignant Malayalam poem. The conclusion of the poem was Iniyoru Josettan Varumo achadiyke amminja Ekuvaan (will another Josettan manifest / Now who will feed print / just like a mother feeds her son?)

In 2008, we had a presentation by Shaji Sebastian, a manufacturer of electrical equipment who was an expert on TOD metres. These were being installed by the Kerala State Electricity Board. At that time, Shaji Sir was the president of the KSSIA (Kerala State Small Industries Association). During his presentation he made a comment: Josettan me kurichu enthaaa njaan parayendathu? Addheham njangade kingmaker alle (What can I say about Josettan. He is print industry’s kingmaker).

That’s when I realised that Jose Sir was not merely a co-ordinator for KMPA but for KSSIA - and perhaps many other trade bodies too. In essence that is what Jose Sir. A maker of men. A creator of teams. The industry’s guardian angel.n