Reborn for the new year is Virtual Press Clips, our periodic roundup of news items about printing companies in the general media. The object is to show that while print firms may be mostly off the radar of The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal, they continue to be esteemed and respected as good business neighbors by their hometown newspapers and other local media outlets. Has your company been covered recently? Please send us the link, and we’ll be happy to include the clip in the next batch.

The City Council of Augusta, ME, has voted in support of fast-tracking the approval of a $5 million expansion plan by J.S. McCarthy Printers, a commercial lithographer in business here since 1947. The Kennebec Journal reports that the Council has asked the city’s planning board to review the plan within 30 days, not 60 as the proposed 22,000-sq.-ft. expansion technically requires. There appears to be no objection to accommodating the printing company, according to the story, which quotes its president, Rick Tardiff, as saying that the expansion will include the installation of a new, Japanese-made printing press with the first configuration of its type in the world. Because the press is expected to generate $100,000 per week in revenue, Tardiff says, waiting an additional 30 days for construction approval would mean “a minimum of $400,000 in revenue lost.” J.S. McCarthy recently acquired printing firms in Boston and Connecticut and will shift work from those plants to Augusta, according to the story.

The winner of WhatTheyThink’s 2009 Environmental Innovation Award for Thought Leadership has been profiled by The San Diego Union Tribune as “a model for green business practices.” The article cites ongoing efforts by Spirit Graphics & Printing of Chula Vista, CA, to reduce its environmental impact over the last five years. These include purchasing renewable wind energy certificates, recycling almost all waste paper, distilling water in-house, and offering 100% post-consumer recycled stocks and biodegradable materials as substrates. The company also holds triple certification for sustainable paper sourcing from FSC, SFI, and PEFC. Plans include the installation of solar panels and the purchase of an electric vehicle for deliveries, according to the story. “There’s no magic to anything I did,” owner Thomas Ackerman Jr. is quoted as saying. “If we would all just wake up tomorrow and say you know what I am going to support renewable resources, and do what I did, the world would be a better place.” (A WhatTheyThink video interview with Ackerman is posted here.)

Neither arson, recession, nor any other vicissitude encountered in nearly 100 years of operation has been able to stop Miles Label Company of Tucson, AZ, reports Inside Tucson Business in its recent profile of the sixth-generation family firm. The business, founded in Iowa in 1912 and relocated to Arizona in 1962, specializes in labels for food, pharmaceuticals, cosmetics, and even—according to its web site—for explosive ordnance such as bombs and grenades. In 1985, says Inside Tucson Business, a deliberately set fire destroyed the plant and all of its production equipment. The business was up and running again in 15 days, thanks to interim financing from a local bank that provided working cash until the insurance payments started coming in. (“Be over insured,” the company’s present owner, PJ Miles, is quoted as advising other printers. “Thank God we were.”) Today Miles Label prints in runs from 250 to 2 million using techniques that include UV, lamination, and holography. The company has emerged from the recession with 2010 numbers that exceed those of 2006, according to the story.

“The name was clever, but the spelling was too nuanced for the Internet age.” So says James Michel of the decision by Mountain Promotions of Oostburg, WI, to start calling itself that instead of using the company’s original name, “Mount’n Screenery”—a moniker that nicely recalls the Rodgers and Hart show tune, "Mountain Greenery," but probably was a little tricky to render as a URL. According to a story in the Sheboygan Press, the Michel family (James and his parents, Kris and Tom Michel) changed the name after purchasing the screen printing business in 2008. The rebranding went hand-in-hand with an expansion of products and services, and today the company’s offerings include custom-embroidered apparel as well as standard promotional items such as coffee mugs and bumper stickers. The story says that the Michels expect to purchase more production equipment this year as they continue to develop the business into a “one-stop promo shop.”

In another printing-related story from Wisconsin, The Green Bay Press-Gazette featured Worzalla Publishing Co. and its assignment to produce one of the most distinctive titles of last year: Of Thee I Sing, A Letter to My Daughters, by President Barack Obama. Worzalla, located in Stevens Point, printed an initial run of 500,000 copies in November and remains the book’s exclusive manufacturer, company president Charles Nason is quoted as saying. According to the story, security during production was unusually tight, with employees who knew about the book forbidden to discuss it outside. Those working on it had to wear badges, and their areas of the plant were roped off. Nason says that although being selected to print a book by a sitting U.S. president is unusual, producing bestsellers is business as usual for Worzalla, which he says prints a “major book” once a month. Established in 1892, the company has been 100% employee-owned since 1987.

SHORT TAKES: The Chattanooga Times Free Press profiled a local printer, Adams Lithographing Co., in recognition of the company’s strong showing in PIA’s 2010 Premier Print Awards...a loss of 700 jobs in the closing of the former Quad Graphics magazine plant in Clarksville, TN, was cited by a local paper, The Leaf-Chronicle, as partly responsible for a spike in unemployment in the Phoenix, AZ, the Ahwatukee Foothills News noted the acquisition of the Arizona division of World Marketing Inc. by Prisma Graphic...the Courthouse News Service reports a decision by the Idaho Supreme Court that obliges the owner of a screen printing company to pay unemployment benefits to a worker dismissed for having an affair with the owner’s wife. The liaison was not shown to be sufficiently connected to the employee’s work to justify denial of benefits, in the court’s view.