When David Liss started at the San Diego County Office of Education as a student worker in 1977, he wasn't necessarily thinking ahead to a lifelong career.
"At 16,17 years old, I didn't think that far out," he said.
Liss was taking a graphic arts course at Kearny High School, and the instructor told him that the pay for press operators was $8 or $9 an hour, which was very good pay at the time.
After a nearly four-decade career at SDCOE, Liss will retire Aug. 31. He was hired full-time Aug. 1, 1979, as a junior offset operator, and rose through the ranks until he was named graphic communications manager 25 years ago.
"It's the only company I've worked at," Liss said. "Nobody does that these days. I'm proud of that. I'm proud of going from student worker to manager, of the work we've done, of the people on our staff, and the services we provide."
Liss oversees graphics production for the County Office, and he's seen vast changes in the printing profession over the course of his career -- most notably, the technology and process for putting out printed materials.
"With the current technology and equipment, you can help more clients at a faster rate," he said. "We serve at least three times the number of clients now."
The graphics production department now has the capacity for massive projects. On a recent day, Liss was overseeing a six-page, double-sided print project that would go out to 48,000 people. The project required 150,000 sheets of paper and 30 cases of envelopes, and would take a week and a half from start to finish.
As Liss looks ahead to retirement, he said it's the people he'll miss the most, particularly the interaction with employees from other departments whose work goes hand in hand with graphics production.
"I'll miss the people who ask for our services, who have a problem and need my help to solve it in the most cost-effective way," he said. "We have good people here."
In his 37 years here, Liss has interacted with hundreds of employees across the organization.
"Dave is always cool as a cucumber, regardless the enormity of the project or deadline," said Nicole Shina, Human Resources.
"I marvel at how Dave took me under his wing," said Cyndi Hawkes, who worked with Liss for 11 years. "He instinctively taught and helped refine my skills in the print and production field."
Candida Bothel-Hammond has worked with Liss in Graphic Communications for many years and admires his big-picture approach to work.
"He tries to make sure that everyone is represented in a professional and positive manner," Bothel-Hammond said.
Liss is looking forward to spending more time with his five young grandchildren, all of whom live in the San Diego area. He also plans to focus on wellness and travel, including a dream trip to the East Coast with his wife, Maria, a postmaster in Santee who is set to retire in three years.
"Also, I've got a very long honey-do list," he said with a chuckle.