Tuesday, February 23, 2021

Bob Knappage, Reprographics Industry legend, passed away on February 4, 2021. R.I.P.

For those of you who are unaware of this very sad news, Reprographics Industry veteran, Robert (Bob) Knappage, passed away on February 4, 2021.  May he rest in peace.


·     - Bob was a long-term member of the Thomas Printworks family; some of us referred to Bob as Bill Thomas’ right-hand-man.   After a career that spanned decades, Bob retired from active duty in 2011.


·     - Bob served as President of the International Reprographics Association (the IRgA is now called the APDSP / Association of Printing & Data Solutions Professionals).


·     - Bob was a Bukovsky Award winner.  The Bukovsky Award was created in memory of George K. Bukovsky, who worked in the reprographics industry for more than 30 years and was a dedicated member of the IRgA. The award was established in 1990 to honor his great contributions by recognizing others who have similarly made a lasting impact on the reprographics industry. 


Gene Klein, CEO of Barker Blue, was the one who mentioned to me that Bob had recently passed away:


In a LinkedIn message, Gene said….. My Dad died 30 years ago.  I thought of him when Bob Knappage of Thomas died a few weeks ago.  Bob was a close friend and he and my Dad had those old-school business values that still stand up today.”


Bill Thomas, Chairman of the Board of Thomas Printworks, shared Bob’s obituary with me:


Bob Knappage was born March 17, 1945 passed away February 4, 2021 after a lengthy stay in the hospital. 

Bob’s passion was golf and boating. He could often be found cruising the lake or golfing on the simulator in his house. Working a lifetime at Thomas Printworks, he was well-respected by all his peers and was recognized as a significant contributor to the reprographics industry. He served as President of the International Reprographic Industry and was awarded the George Bukovsky award in 2005 as a significant contributor to the reprographics industry. Bob’s ability to work a spreadsheet was impressive! Bob was blessed by the friendships he formed with fellow employees, colleagues, and customers who surrounded him with love and support throughout his life, work and retirement. 

He is survived by his son Robert Bobby Knappage and his wife Amy, sister & brother-in -law, Barbara & Gary Jenkins, grandson Robert Knappage, nephew Daniel Maynard & his wife Kim, niece Debra Baird and dearest friends Bill and Beverly Thomas, Sherri Gustie, Randy Paulus and cousin Vesta Roberts and Bob’s 4 footed and beloved pets Bebe and Sugar. 

Due to COVID-19 there will not be a Memorial Service. 

In lieu of flowers Bob would prefer donations to your favorite Charity.


Bill Thomas wrote this about Bob:




“Bob Knappage and I became friends at the early age of 13 as we met through our parents who were friends.  Both families lived in Dallas but about 5 miles apart.  To play with each other we would ride our bikes to the other one’s house.  The summer before our Junior year in high school, both families moved to Garland, Texas where we both played on the Garland High School Golf Team.  We played golf almost every day, except on weekends we would caddy some.  Bob was a big strong guy that could carry double even with the heavy pro bags.  Me, with my statue, did good to carry one bag. It was the best of times.


After we had completed our education, Bob went into real estate with his dad and I went into the family business, Thomas Blueprint. Bob’s dad died the same week that my son, Bryan, was born in 1969.  Afterward, Bob stayed in real estate sales for a few years, but it was not the same. I asked him to come to work with me and he did.  He became a store manager, then District Manager of our Houston operation, and later Vice-President of the company.


Our mantra was work hard and play hard and we were able to successfully grow the company and be recognized in our industry as a leader.  When we were not working, we were playing golf or water skiing at Lake Texoma.  I still remember the day we decided to try to learn how I could ride on his shoulders while he was on skis.  It did not work out too well!


Our golf outings were similar.  I remember playing in the Member-Guest Golf Tournament with him at his club.  He hooked his drive in the left rough under a tree.  He pulled up in the golf cart and went to his ball and looked under the limb. Down the fairway was a lake with a hill on the other side with the green on top of that knoll and a sand trap in front of the green.  Bob looked at me and said, “I got this shot”.  I laughed so hard I almost fell out of the cart.


Bob was a unique personality.  I remember acquiring a company in San Antonio and Bob and I flew down there to meet with the employees and examine the operating procedures of the company.  Bob with his abrupt and direct to the point way upset the owner of that business. After we flew back to Dallas, the guy called me and asked me to not ever send that son of a gun back down there.  Of course, that is exactly what I did, and the man came to love Bob.  I asked him about it and he said that not only did Bob know what he was doing but when you got past his abrupt manner you quickly realized that he had a heart of gold and truly cared about people.  He even tried to talk Bob into retiring in San Antonio when Bob was considering retiring in Phoenix.  Bob retired in Phoenix, but they remained great friends.


I will miss Bob for the rest of my life.”




When Bob Knappage retired from Thomas Printworks, a video-tribute was produced by Thomas, and, below, I’m going to share that with you. This video is priceless. It is a “must watch.”


March 2011 Newscast


Featuring a special tribute to Bob Knappage with Bill Thomas, Bryan Thomas, David Laza and leaders from around the industry.




Update:  just after I put up this post about Bob’s passing, I received an email from Paul Korman, CEO of Trukmann’s Reprographics.  Paul shared with me a post he put up – about Bob Knappage - on the RMX forum on Feb 5th:

“What I have learned through life has in large measure been taught by those I have encountered along the way. Real transformation though comes from lessons that are not just taught but caught.”


“Bob's wisdom, personality and sense of humor made him and his lessons infectious. I learned so much from this great man. What Bob imparted to us in the sessions, on the Thomas tours, at breakfast, lunch and dinner, in the lobbies, on the buses and in the bars until late at night had a major impact on who I am as a business person. His lessons and stories impacted the success of our company and even our survival through the tough times. He wasn't the only one but he was one of the special ones. Bob Knappage (and so many of you) is why I belonged to ReproCAD, ReproMAX and now RMX. He can't be forgotten. There is too much of him still in me and passed on to those who work with me every day. The more I think about him, the harder a time I'm having with his passing. Whew...”

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