Virtual Press Clips: Print Firms in the News
As we revel or roast in the summer heat,
By Patrick Henry
Published: August 17, 2009
As we revel or roast in the summer heat, it’s well to be reminded that the air conditioning we turn to for relief was originally developed for printing. A piece in Wired magazine recounts how in 1902 a young engineer named Willis Haviland Carrier confronted a problem plaguing the pressroom of a Brooklyn printer: paper expansion and contraction from variable humidity. Carrier’s ingenious solution—a mechanical air pump expelling chilled, humidity-stabilizing air—saved the printer’s paper and became the basis of air conditioning systems that remain in use today. It also was the genesis of the corporation that still bears the inventor’s name. “The air conditioner was just what the Brooklyn printer needed,” the article states. “As the word got out, other companies began clamoring for Carrier’s machine.” The Florida Courier has profiled the partnership of Solomon E. Davis, Sr. and his son, Solomon Davis, Jr., as one of the most successful Black-owned business establishments in Tampa. Together, they operate Sol Davis Printing, a commercial print shop launched by the elder Davis in 1999. Within 18 months of opening, the company was selected as the minority printer by the National Football League during the 2001 Super Bowl in Tampa. Since then the Davises and their business have received numerous civic awards, including the recognition of the elder Davis by the Tampa Police Department as one of its “Unsung Heroes.” Davis told the Courier that when he graduated from the printing program at Tampa Bay Technical High School in 1977, “I recalled that Tampa never had a Black-owned printer that boasts the capabilities that we now encompass." With a full-time staff of 13, the company specializes in printing on short notice—or none at all. "People come in all the time with last-minute jobs, brochures, catalogs, funeral programs. We make it work and by the time it's done, those people are pleased with the finished product. We’ve built a business on being there at the 11th hour," Davis is quoted as saying. A feature in The Tribune of Humble, TX, presents another self-made printing success story, but one of a very different kind. The subject—some would say heroine—of the feature is Sevala Sadic, a refugee from the devastating Bosnian War of 1992-95. Sadic left the country early in the conflict with her two daughters, then aged 18 months and four years, on a journey that would take them to Slovenia, Sweden, Germany, and, in 1995, the U.S. Before leaving Europe she was informed of the death of her husband, a soldier who was among the 100,000 people killed in the fighting. In Chicago, Sadic struggled to learn English, gain an education, and support her children. Relocating to Kingwood, TX, she opened her own business, Lone Star Printing & Mailing Services, in 2004. Sadic is praised in the story as an entrepreneur who “epitomizes free enterprise at its very best.” She tells The Tribune: “I always say, if somebody wants something hard enough, you can achieve it. You just have to have the will to do it." Knoxnews.com reports that Ullrich Printing of Knoxville, TN, will open a sales office in Oak Ridge, TN, and eventually set up some production there. The owner, Peter Ullrich, bought the company in 1997 from his father, who established the business 30 years ago. His wife, Jeannie Ullrich, will manage the Oak Ridge office. Services and products include offset printing, color copying, trade show and event planning, fulfillment, and, with the recent addition of a wide-format printer, posters, banners, custom-printed wallpaper, and signage. According to the story, the shop also has a 1909-vintage letterpress that’s used for special products. Ullrich attributes the growth of the business to its focus on customer service. “I'm finding clients still believe in service,” he’s quoted as saying. “There’s a lot out there.” Printer Paul Mann is the subject of a Q&A-style interview in The Free Lance-Star of Fredericksburg, VA. A 17-year veteran of roles on Capitol Hill, Mann bought Monroe Press on Charles Street in Fredericksburg in 2007. He also launched the Brickmann Group, a web development company, as an outgrowth of pro bono services he had provided in the aftermath of hurricane Katrina. The database and intranet that he built to help four counties in southeast Texas manage Katrina evacuees became the basis of the commercial venture. Asked to state the biggest decision he’s currently wrestling with, Mann replies, “How to advertise effectively without breaking the bank.” He also notes that wearing many hats in a small company can make it hard to concentrate on management. Finally, what does it take to drive customer traffic to a print shop these days? How about a one-eyed Chihuahua? It works for Brian Bachant, proprietor of the Desert Print Shop in Cathedral City, CA, and owner of Winkie, the monocular mascot spotlighted along with him in a story in The Desert Sun. In her job as chief of security, Winkie goes over well with the public: “She draws people to come,” Bachant says. The shop, started by his father, provides commercial printing services to small businesses in the Palm Springs area.