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Obituary: Industry veteran Al Kershaw passes away at 81

June 21, 2024  By PrintAction Staff

Al Kershaw, president of his own print consulting firm, the Print Wizard (Kitchener, Ont.), for over 17 years and former manager of print technology at Heidelberg Canada for more than 23 years, died on Saturday, May 25, 2024, at the age of 81. The likeable, soft-spoken Kitchener resident was an acknowledged industry expert in offset and digital printing as well as colour management. At Heidelberg, he was in charge of field instruction and trade shows.

According to colleague Larry St. Thomas, group leader, technical support print, who retired from Heidelberg in January of this year and recently opened his own consulting business (St. Thomas Press Tech), Kershaw was always helpful and took the time to share his decades of expertise with all print instructors.

“I started at Heidelberg in 2003 but had already met Al in the 1980s when I was running presses in commercial print shops,” recalled St. Thomas. “Our paths often crossed during new press installations and troubleshooting visits. He also appeared at many Heidelberg educational sessions that I attended before working there as a print instructor. Ultimately, I took over his position at Heidelberg just after he retired.”


St. Thomas added that prior to his time at Heidelberg Canada, Kershaw did new press commissioning, had an in-depth knowledge of colour-measuring systems, and most importantly was the OEM’s No. 1 print diagnostician.

“When he became manager, he took care of our group by assigning to us specific press startups across Canada, arranging training courses, and supporting anyone who needed help. Al had me accompany him on some new press installations and helped me in correctly performing diagnostic print testing. We were incredibly busy in those early years. Still, he always found the time for our training and development by booking courses for us in Germany or Atlanta, Ga. Al was highly respected at Heidelberg by both employees and customers alike.”

St. Thomas recalled that Kershaw could be a tough boss at times, but was always fair and listened carefully to your concerns.

“He would be the first to step up and defend any of the print instructors in tough situations. Every year, he would also hold a Christmas party or a summer BBQ for us at his home. They were quite enjoyable, and Al helped me years later to arrange similar get-togethers to boost team spirit. Al and his wife Carole were always friendly and welcoming. He was a man who never stopped striving to be the best at his craft and went about his business with the utmost professionalism and pride.”

A valued consultant with Unigraph International
About 15 years ago, Unigraph International (Delson, Que.), one of Canada’s leading pressroom chemical manufacturers, realizing Kershaw’s unique skill set, thought it would be a good idea to add him to the Unigraph team as a special consultant. They’ve never regretted this decision, and neither have Unigraph’s hundreds of customers across Canada and the United States.

“Al was a key part of our team, attending regular meetings and accompanying our tech-support reps when they made service calls,” said Unigraph VP of tech services, Mike Thibault. “His vast knowledge of how offset presses worked, combined with his expertise in colour management, were absolutely invaluable. Few people in our industry clearly understood every stage of the print process, and how the intricate on-press interactions between plates, inks, blankets, fountain solutions, and other pressroom chemicals, affected print quality and colour. In short, Al was a master diagnostician. He helped all kinds of printers achieve the best print quality and colour by pinpointing complex and often subtle production problems, then solving them in the fastest, most cost-efficient way possible. He was also a real gentleman and a pleasure to work with. Our team members learned so much from him.”

In their spare time, Kershaw and Carole loved to travel, and once took a memorable vacation around the world. He also enjoyed playing golf and cards with his friends and family members, and was an avid photography enthusiast.

Kershaw is survived by his wife Carole, daughter Gail, son Rick, stepson Chris, son in-law Dave, daughters-in-law Marion and Barb, grandchildren Danielle, Kyle, Laura and Alex, and his great granddaughter Charlotte.

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