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Monday, October 14, 2013

Family Benchemark

From the Vault Dept.: Like any freelancer, I’ve done more than my share of work to order. Writing for the short-lived Capital Region magazine in the late 1980s gave me a chance to flex some straightforward reporting wings, although it was always under the threat of some of the most insanely unpredictable editing I’ve ever endured. This was written for a cover story about fathers and sons – seven portraits of area legacies. I was asked for a much longer piece. Here’s what resulted. I’m happy to note, by the way, that Benchemark continues to thrive under the direction of the two Bobs, and Brian Kosineski also has joined the team.


BOB KOSINESKI – Bob K to his clients – wears a hundred-candlepower grin as he discusses his business “When I decided to buy Benchemark as a printing operation two years ago, I was faced with the problem of getting good people to help me.”

Photo by Mark McCarty
He sits at one of two large desks in the office of his Schenectady shop. At the other is a younger man with a grin so similar it might have been run off one of the Benchemark presses.

“He said he'd buy it only if I came to work for him,” the younger man says. This is Bob Jr., the boss’s son. “Or J. R., or just Junior,” he explains. “I graduated from Buffalo State with a degree in biochemistry. I’ve certainly put it to good use here.” He takes a beat, and gives a deadpan nod at his dad. “I mixed five pounds of inks once for a special color we needed.”

The combination of father and son in the front office has been financially salutary: their first year together brought in $1.2 million in sales and this year is expected to top $2 million.

“We’ve got two different styles,” Bob Sr. says. “My son has a dry sense of humor and his own way of handling customers. Everyone we deal with seems to like either him or myself. But the best part about it is that were both enjoying the job.”

Benchemark opened on Lafayette Street in 1935 as an office-supplies and printing company, and Bob Sr went to work there 23 years ago as a salesman. He rose to sales manager and was a vice president by the time the owner decided to move the office supplies store to State Street.

“After I graduated. I went on a four-month, 18,000-mile vacation,” says the younger Bob. “I was skiing out at Keystone, in Colorado, when I got a call from my Mom. She said that Dad was buying the business and I should get right out here and help him.”

“There’s something new every day in this business,” the older man says. “Now, I have another son who’s an engineer, which seems like a boring thing to do.” Bob Sr. grins again, “but he’s thinking of coming into the business.”

Capital Region, June 1987

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