It’s become one of the printing industry’s most anticipated and enjoyable events – an annual extravaganza that’s put a smile on the faces of hundreds of clients, ad agency people, photographers, suppliers, celebrities, even politicians (not to mention their families and invited friends).
For the past 20 years, on the first Friday of December, C.J. Graphics Inc. has held its annual Open House. For the past 6 years, its expansive, state-of-the-art production facility at 134 Park Lawn Road in Toronto has been home to this popular event. And each year, like the company, its staff and its services, the event seems to be getting better and better.
Once again, this year’s party had everything – an incredible variety of food and refreshments, music, dancing, camaraderie and a lively atmosphere that any popular downtown bistro would envy.
As guests entered, they selected a celebrity nametag – a clever way to help break the ice. I chose Jackie Gleason, knowing that by the end of the evening I would likely consume my own body weight (200 lbs.) in food and drink.
Starting as a modest print brokerage firm in Toronto in 1981, C.J. Graphics Inc. began operating its own presses at 645 King St. E. in 1986. Today the company has become an industry leader in prepress, offset and digital printing and finishing, and has enjoyed national and international recognition.
For example, this year, the company won two Print Industries of America Bennie Awards, the most prestigious accolades in the printing industry, to complement its Bennie Awards from 2002 and 2003, and its other 3,500 separate awards and acknowledgements. Over 5,000 entries from around the world are judged each year during the Bennie Awards competition.
Well, if they gave an award for the best party in the industry, C.J. Graphics would have another trophy on its mantle for its Dec. 1 soir’e and smorgasbord, hosted and organized by CJG staff and Head Oyster Shucker (i.e. President) Jay Mandarino, and attended by some 1,485 guests.
Once again, admission was free as long as you brought a non-perishable food item for the Daily Bread Food Bank. If not, guests were encouraged to make a cash donation. Result? Over 1,500 lbs. of food was eventually collected and more than $2,500 was raised for the charity through a live auction conducted by Jay himself.
Speaking of food . . . ohhhh . . . my . . . god!
This was like entering a supermarket, not a printing facility. At every turn was a virtual cornucopia of fresh, mouthwatering sandwiches, appetizers, oysters, sushi, pizza, pastries and desserts, wines, beer, exotic juices. Hmmmm? Where to start?
Did I forget to mention the skateboard demo for the kids on a specially designed in-house track? Leading the way was skateboarding “wiz” Jay, (hey, the guy was ranked 3rd in Canada in 1979, ok) who put on a demo of his own sans the Elton John sunglasses. Over 100 kids and 300 adults looked on. This was another big hit. Most of the children later enrolled in lessons.
“This yearly event is just our way of thanking not only our clients, but our suppliers too. We never want them to forget how much we appreciate their efforts,” said Mandarino. “It’s also our way of giving back to the community.”
Mandarino also acknowledged the hundreds of hours of hard work put in by CJG staff and event suppliers who were responsible for making the entire evening such a huge success.