By Denise White Parkinson | Photography by Lori Sparkman Photography | Arlington Resort Hotel & Spa
TLI Print CEO Joel Rush admits to being passionate: “I have trouble doing anything halfway,” he grins. TLI Print grew out of Hot Springs’ most successful technology startup—The Learning Institute, an educational program company that Joel established right out of grad school. After a decade of success, Joel transitioned to full-service printing in a beautifully restored building in the Historic Ouachita Avenue Business District. This Hot Springs entrepreneur will help welcome guests to the Hot Springs Documentary Film Festival in October.
Joel fell in love with HSDFF while working as the festival’s print vendor. His support and patronage for the nation’s longest running documentary film festival continues as 2019 marks his second year as chairman of the organization’s board of directors. “It’s my favorite week to be in Hot Springs,” he says. “I’m happy to play a part in bringing stories to light and showcasing quality films. The Hot Springs Documentary Film Festival is well on the way to being the best film festival in the South.” Joel describes the board of directors as a mix of people who have seen the festival through lean times, plus newcomers who bring new energy and ideas.
Serving as chairman requires a combination of finesse and tenacity, notes Executive Director Jennifer Gerber. “Joel gives so generously of his time, energy and resources to ensure the festival continues to grow and prosper. What I appreciate most is his genuine enthusiasm for films and filmmakers. Joel is vital to the success of the organization.” With a reputation as a “filmmaker’s festival,” HSDFF is a staffed by filmmakers and cinephiles, and will feature an expanded focus on Arkansas filmmakers. “We will be offering perks for Arkansas filmmakers – allowing them special access to screenings, events, panels and workshops,” says Jennifer. “In order to see more Arkansas-made films at the festival in coming years, I believe we need to invest in the talent right here at home.”
Joel’s support of the Spa City’s arts community is undeniable: Half of TLI Print’s business involves work with nonprofit organizations. A table at the TLI Print offices is scattered with colorful printed logos, a vibrant Who’s Who of contemporary Hot Springs culture and branding. “We’re really plugged in to this town,” muses Joel.
Together with his wife Ali, Joel enjoys raising horses on their Hot Springs farmstead and coaching their sons’ soccer teams. “This is what we do,” laughs Joel. “We jump in on things and get them done.”