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Vale Bruce Sinnott 1949-2019: A reflection

Wednesday, 10 April 2019
By Patrick Howard

Bruce Sinnott 1949 -2019.

It is the melancholy duty of the survivor to write the eulogies for those who’ve passed on. Kevin Sinnott, the surviving brother of the prominent graphic arts family, reflects on the life of his brother, Bruce, following brother Neville’s earlier demise.

I lost another brother, Bruce, last Saturday: the first loss, Neville, was back in 2012. Both were still reasonably young men by today’s standards. Neville 76, Bruce 70.

Neville succumbed to the aggressive recurrence of melanoma after 20 odd years in remission. Bruce had been suffering the early effects of Alzheimer’s undetected for many years, his bright intellect masked his malady for quite some time before finally being diagnosed and the deterioration process began progressing to its culmination last Saturday.

The three of us were involved in the graphic arts industry during a very special time, spanning image capture via wet plate technology, and on into the realms of digital cameras, digital print and computer to plate. I think Bruce via Sinnott Bros was the first to implement CtP in Australia.

Bruce attended the holy mecca of Drupa every four years, religiously returning to evangelise our company to be a beta site for most of the cutting edge technology.

Via his enthusiasm we were in the very vanguard for most quantum leaps taken by the graphic arts during this whirlwind of innovation; electronic pagination systems in the early 80’s; digital cameras mid to late 80’s; spread spectrum radio transmission of data mid to late 90’s; pre-microwave transmission of data; digital assets management; facilities management and more. Digital proofing, colour management of data from capture to final media output. I’ve forgotten half of the things we did .

Bruce started as a lithographic camera operator apprentice in his chosen industry in the mid 60’s. During his time at tech he topped the class every year culminating as apprentice of the year. I can’t remember if he finished his apprenticeship for he was whisked off into a management cadetship in the Consolidated Press organisation. Our whole family, father Gordon as well, was employed at various times by CP. During this cadetship Bruce compiled a number of ‘futures’ reports pertaining to the letterpress, lithography and gravure plants in operation at that time. A great number of those crystal ball gazes still exist today, (not in plants owned by CP, naturally) but in the processes. If Bruce saw something that looked logical, practical and importantly marketable and could convince his brothers to his way of thinking we had to have it. Never mind we had to hock the house, kids and family to guarantee the finance for the project.

It’s interesting to note that Sinnott Bros/SBM – whatever it’s called  these days – to my knowledge has never shown a loss on its yearly balance sheet since 1973 to this day.  Now that’s an achievement in this industry.

Bruce was involved with Sinnott Bros from 1973 till the company was sold to OAP (Offset Alpine Printing) in 1993. Neville retired at that time and Bruce was retained by OAP to run the company as part of the purchase agreement. When  IPMG purchased OAP a few short years later Bruce was employed in higher management pursuits. During this time he completed a Master’s in Business studies majoring in marketing. With both my brothers doing other things the running of the Sinnott Bros Business was left with myself reporting to directly Bruce and ultimately to Stephen Anstice.

Bruce left IPMG sometime after 2005 when I retired and worked with DES along with some consulting interests. He then became involved with and was responsible for Harvey Norman’s set up of in-store/online digital fulfilment services for people’s pictures e.g. vanity booklets, photo prints, wall hangings etc. I think all of that could still be functioning.

He retired when he realised he had a problem and had some quality times sailing his boat and a bit of travelling but nowhere near enough the self-time he deserved.

Here’s a funny anecdote to conclude. Bruce accompanied a number of my surfing friends and self on a couple of our bi-yearly surfing trips. He loved to play chess and spent time playing my mates and to their surprise, given his malady, he was beating them. So when he left the table for a nature call or drink or something, they would move his men about. When he returned and puzzled at the change they would convince him he had just forgotten the changes due to his condition. Rotten animals :O)

Kev Sinnott

A private burial is being held today at Point Clare on the Central Coast. A celebration of Bruce Sinnott’s life will be held in Sydney later this month. Details to be published nearer the time.

2 Responses to “Vale Bruce Sinnott 1949-2019: A reflection”

  1. April 10, 2019 at 11:26 am,

    Andy McCourt

    Vale Bruce, one of the giants who brought new thinking into our industry. He did a lot of work with GASAA and the LIA and, introducing me as a speaker on digital proofing and colour management at a technical function, described the topic as ‘usually as boring as batsh*t’ but that ‘this time could be interesting.’ That was Bruce, what you saw was what you got and it was always straight and good. So sorry to hear of his far too early passing and illness Kev, sincere condolences.

  2. April 12, 2019 at 7:27 pm,

    Who Wantstoknow

    RIP Bruce, you were a pioneer for the industry and it has been a sad loss for all who have dealt with him.

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