||Selling everything he had to raise money, Kostika Radivoj’s father took a big chance to give his family an opportunity for a better life. Living under a dictatorship in what was then called Yugoslavia, the Radivoj family received permission to work in Austria but not the United States. However, after a few months in Austria, the Radivojs secured sponsorship from family members already in America and left Europe forever. In September of 1970, they arrived in Lakewood and Kostika (Koz) enrolled in school.
|After a year at Harding Junior High and one year at Lakewood High School, Radivoj moved with his family to Cleveland, where he began attending West Technical High School. One day while reading a magazine, he used a magnifier to look at a picture and was amazed to see the array and pattern of colored dots that comprised the photo. His initial interest in the lithography process grew, and with the help of his guidance counselor, Radivoj signed up for West Tech’s vocational printing program. Over the next three years, he took every course in the program.
With good grades and encouragement from his printing instructor, Richard Bucher, Radivoj applied for a scholarship from The Graphic Arts Council of Cleveland. He received a two-year scholarship to Cuyahoga Community College (Tri-C®) to pursue a printing education.
At Tri-C, Radivoj again applied himself to his studies. “I loved every minute of it,” he said. “The teachers were very passionate, especially Bob Ratino. They wanted you to learn and succeed. When they saw you were interested in a particular area, they went out of their way to assist you in reaching your potential.”
Working part time at small print shops while attending Tri-C’s Western Campus, Radivoj picked up practical experience to complement what he learned in class. “I received great guidance and encouragement from company owners, co-workers and teachers,” he said.
Among the things he learned on the job and in class were humility, how to listen and how to treat people, he recalled. “In the end we are only as good as the people we have around us. No one can become successful on their own,” he said.
With one class left to take for his degree, Radivoj applied for an estimator position at Great Lakes Lithograph Co. in Cleveland, which had contributed to the scholarship fund. In following its philosophy of investing in the next generation, Great Lakes owner George Schultz hired Radivoj as an entry-level estimator. Radivoj worked full time, took his class and earned his Associate of Applied Science degree in graphic communication and management technology in 1978.
Radivoj has worked at Great Lakes for more than 35 years, moving from estimator through production planning, and has been executive vice president of sales since 2005. Great Lakes, with its fourth generation of the Schultz family at the helm, has always listened to its clients and been very innovative.
Great Lakes, along with Koz Radivoj, has changed with the times and made the necessary business moves to ensure growth. Now known as Great Lakes Integrated, the company is not just a printer, but also a multi-channel marketing solutions provider.
Radivoj believes his own growth began at Tri-C. “Tri-C teachers advised us that you can never stop learning, and I took that to heart,” he said. “I have always taken advantage of every educational and professional opportunity to improve.
“Every asset depreciates in value with the exception of the human asset. The human asset, if given the opportunity, only improves and increases in value over time. I learned that at Tri-C and that is where my future truly began.”