Joe McGurn has seen it all – a company rebranding, new faces, new technology, shifts in the strategic plan, new vendors and suppliers, a transition in company presidents, and the transformation of what once was just a small print shop into a marketing execution powerhouse. Joe has been a leading graphic designer with VP Demand Creation Services for over 40 years. He’s played a significant role in the design of publications like Just Labs and the Michigan Association of Recreation Vehicles and Campgrounds’ annual directory – just to name a few. Joe has proven to be the answer to any graphic design question or request, and he’ll surely be missed by multiple departments at VPDCS. But before his retirement clock rings, we asked him a few questions about his years of experience.










How many years have you been with the company?
Joe: Forty-two-and-a-half years – would you believe there are others who have been here longer?

What has made you stay with VP for so long?
There has been a constant flow of interesting and challenging work. I have wonderful clients and co-workers whom I enjoy working with every day. I am associated with a company that has been, and is still, constantly evolving.

What made you initially apply? What drew you into the company?
Village Press is located in the best place to live in Michigan – Traverse City. And a former professor of mine was the art director at the time so that was a huge draw.

Just curious, has something remained on your desk for the entire span of your career here?
Yes, a very yellowed proportion scale used for sizing photographs. I have had it since my first day at Village Press. It predates personal computers. I still use it occasionally.

You’ve probably seen a lot of transition. How have you handled these changes?
Bob Goff, the founder and original owner of Village Press, always believed in investing in the latest technology; we probably had the very first fax machine in the industrial park. The biggest change for me was the move to computers in the mid-eighties. That opened up a whole new world of design possibilities. Embrace change. It has all been good, sometimes painful, but good.

What would your advice be to someone just starting out?
Listen to your clients, treat them with respect, and do everything in your power to give them the best design you can. And, read over every email at least twice before you hit send.

What has been your most memorable moment with VP?

Joe: My most memorable time with VP was flying out to Beechcraft headquarters in Wichita, Kansas, in Bob Goff’s King Air to direct a photo shoot with hockey great, Wayne Gretzky.

 What was one of your favorite publications or projects that you got to work on?

Joe: I can honestly say I don’t have a favorite. I have enjoyed the variety more than anything — from concrete block machinery (Besser Company) to flowers (Michigan Floral Association), or dogs (Just Labs magazine) to airplanes (American Bonanza Society). And, just about anything imaginable in between. Each client and subject has its own challenges and rewards. I do have to say, I miss going on the photo shoots that used to be a part of my job.

What are your plans for retirement?

Joe: My plans are numerous and varied, starting with a road trip in late September. My wife, Joanne, and I will be taking our travel trailer down to the Carolinas with a side trip to Richmond, Virginia, to visit our daughter. A trip to Ireland, Scotland, and Italy is planned for next spring. I would like to create some new artwork, in particular some 3D pieces. I also promised my son a home remodeling project or two – and of course, time with my three granddaughters. Just like VP, retirement will evolve.

Joe will be missed at VP Demand Creation Services. Thank you for the wonderful 40 plus years!

Article written by:

McKenzie Decker

Marketing Manager