“To be considered knowledgeable in the fields of printing, one needs a working knowledge of most of the following processes: letterpress; lithography; photo-lithography; dry, web, and sheet-fed offset photolithography; rotary and sheet-fed gravure; silk screen; collotype; copper plate or engraved printing; thermography; and as well, a command over the common office duplicating techniques—xerox, stencil and ditto.” So observed Allen Kullen in “The Printer and You,” an article he wrote for the October 1965 issue of Museum News. Kullen, then in the marketing department of a printing firm in Washington, DC, went on to become president of Todd Allan Printing Co., a full-service printing operation that he acquired in 1974. Since then he has expanded the Beltsville, MD, business with the roll-up acquisitions of five commercial printing plants and two other related companies. In 1982, Kullen published what must surely be a treasure for serious collectors of printing literature: A Practical Graphic Arts Guide, his 700-page, looseleaf-bound compendium of expert technical advice for print buyers. Five hundred copies were distributed free, and proceeds from copies sold went to a graphic arts scholarship fund. The guide, written by Kullen and 20 collaborators, was the culmination of his message to print buyers in the 1965 article: “Get to know your printer...Visit his shop, get a good conceptual understanding of why certain operations are more costly than others and why he recommends the types of changes that he does. You will be surprised at how fast your costs come down.” Rick Poore, a screen printer from Lincoln, NE, has attracted the attention of The Huffington Post and The New York Times for his activism in urging passage of liberal proposals for health care reform, including a public option. On November 17, Poore, the owner of Designwear Inc. in Lincoln, was one of eight small business owners who attempted to meet with Karen Ignagni, president of America’s Health Insurance Plans (AHIP), at the lobbying group’s annual conference in Chicago. Ignagni did not show up that day, according to Huffington Post contributor Jason Rosenbaum, who quotes Poore as saying that skyrocketing health care costs have kept him from purchasing another press and giving his employees a raise they deserve. Earlier in the month, Poore had been part of a Main Street Alliance delegation of 134 small-business owners from 26 states making a lobbying trip of their own to Washington, DC. Here, according to a Times blog post by Robb Mandelbaum, Poore and his compatriots were frustrated by the noncommittal responses they received from some of their elected representatives. “We need to get a bill in place that starts us down the road,” Mandelbaum quotes Poore as saying. “It may not be the best bill, but let’s get it started. There are people suffering out there.” Small-business owners in New Jersey have civic gripes of their own, and two Garden State printers have gone on record in local media with their complaints to the powers that be in Trenton. There are days when Joe Olivo “downright hates” running a printing business in New Jersey, according to a story in The Star-Ledger. A “constant stream of regulation" is said to be what’s making the experience “just too much to bear” for Olivo, who owns Perfect Printing Inc. in Moorestown. The story says that sales tax expansions, new fees on services, and other encumbrances have given New Jersey a reputation for creating one of the nation’s worst business environments for small firms. “It can’t be any worse as far as I’m concerned,” Olivo is quoted as saying. No less disgruntled is Mark Lamhut, vice president of Paul-Mark Printing Inc. in Freehold. “Every year there's something else, something more to add to what we have to do," says Lamhut in a recent story about the state’s inhospitable business climate in the Asbury Park Press. “Small business owners don't have a staff just to sit and do all the different accounting and paperwork and new things that seem to crop up.” Customized hand sanitizers, antibacterial sprays, and wipes as promotional giveaways at the height of flu season? Pete Rengel, owner of Rengel Printing in St. Cloud, MN, thought the idea was nothing to sneeze at, and neither did the St. Cloud Times—it ran a story on how the company took advantage of the “swine flu marketing opportunity” that has everyone reaching into purses, glove boxes, and desks for protection against the disease. Another St. Cloud Times article about the 88-year old company reports that this kind of niche marketing savvy helped Rengel Printing boost its revenues 5% to 6% this year while industrywide average revenues for Minnesota printers declined 25% to 30%. It also cites steps that Rengel took before the recession to make the business more financially stable. In contrast, the article mentions a St. Cloud printing company that, unlike Rengel Printing, has been caught in the downturn and is doing all that it can to regain lost ground. Bonnie Goff, who started Bonnie’s Printing Plus 28 years ago, is quoted as saying that this year, she closed the doors on Fridays during the summer, put off buying new equipment, and stepped up efforts to retain customer loyalty. “Losing a spouse is never easy under any circumstances. Replacing that spouse’s role in a family business while still grieving can be overwhelming.” This somber lead to an article about succession planning in the Kansas City Star sums up what was facing Jan Green when she assumed leadership of PPS Inc. in Olathe, KS, following the death of her husband, Joe, last April. Joe Green started company, a printer of overlays, membrane switches, nameplates, decals, and mouse pads, in 1964. According to the story, Joe’s declining health prompted Mrs. Green to join the company full-time in 2000, whereupon she began preparing for her eventual leadership role by learning to manage all aspects of the business. Carmen DeHart, a business development specialist quoted in the story, said that Mrs. Green “did nearly everything right to prepare for the transition.” Mrs. Green’s advice to other owners coping with succession challenges of their own: “Surround yourself with people who know exactly what they are doing and are the kind of people you can trust.”