R. Champlin SheridanIn 1967, Champ Sheridan scraped together $1,000 -- "all the cash I had," he says -- to buy the small Everybody's Poultry Magazine Publishing Co. of Hanover, Pa.
Now, less than 30 years later, Mr. Sheridan has built that tiny publisher into The Sheridan Group, one of the nation's leading scientific and medical printers. He has repaid his initial $1,000 investment many thousand times over, to the point where he and his wife, Debbie, can contribute $20 million in the company's stock to The Johns Hopkins Initiative.
That kind of success, Mr. Sheridan says, was not necessarily the goal when the Baltimore-born printer and son of a printer set out to purchase his own company.
"Success really is a path; it's not a destination," said Mr. Sheridan, 64. "It was not a case of dreaming where it would ultimately go. It's been my continual focus that if you got up each morning and put one foot in front of the other and make your best effort, you'll find at the end of the day that you've made a little progress.
"If you do that every day, you'll keep making progress," he said. "I really hadn't dreamed or sensed where we would be or what we would be able to do." Mr. Sheridan graduated from Johns Hopkins in 1952, served in the military during the Korean War and returned to Baltimore to join Schneidereith and Sons, a printing business where his father was president and part-owner.
In 1961, wanting to move ahead in the industry but not to compete directly with his father, Mr. Sheridan moved to Hanover as production manager, then general manager, of the Everybody's Poultry Magazine business, a small publisher and commercial printer. In 1967, he bought the business from his two retiring bosses, then set about making it grow.
By 1987, he was ready for a new challenge and purchased a competitor, Braun-Brumfield Inc. of Ann Arbor, Mich., combining it with what was, by then, The Sheridan Press to form The Sheridan Group.
Mr. Sheridan said he believes his father would approve of his and his wife's $20 million contribution to the Eisenhower Library at Hopkins.
"Although he was successful in business, my father never finished high school and regretted not completing his formal education," Mr. Sheridan said. "All of his life, he encouraged me to understand, `Your education is never finished. Always keep an inquisitive mind and always keep learning.' I hope this gift Debbie and I are making will help many continue to learn."
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