Bartash Printing — From the Ground UpApril 2007 By Kristen E. Monte
Philadelphia is the home of America’s first and foremost printer: Ben Franklin. And, like Franklin, who started out with very little, local printer Joe Bartash started out small before hitting it big.
Bartash Printing, one of the largest cold web printing companies in the Philadelphia region, was started 55 years ago by Bartash to print his weekly newspaper, the Southwest Globe Times. In 1962, Joe’s son-in-law, Sidney Simon, joined the company. During the next 45 years, Simon and his son, Michael, built the business from a single-press operation, located in a 10,000-square-foot rowhome, to a five press-line operation in a 100,000-square-foot facility.
When the business relocated in 1994, Bartash employed 60 people. Today, it has nearly 300 workers and has clientele stretching from Massachusetts to Alabama.
A company milestone occurred in the 1970s, when Bartash sold the newspaper, foregoing the publishing operation, and sold the printing operation to his son-in-law.
“My dad stuck with the printing company,” says Michael Simon, president. “He bet on the right horse.”
The 1994 move was another milestone in the company’s history, since it was the real starting point for business growth. At the time, Bartash offered no postpress services, and its prepress department consisted of a computer and image-setter. The backbone of the operation was the press department, which ran a seven-unit Goss Community web press and a five-unit Goss Suburban web.
Bursting at the Seams
“The building was huge; we didn’t think we would be able to fill it,” claims Simon. “Now, we are bursting at the seams. We are masters of fitting things into small spaces.”
Today, Bartash has an arsenal of printing and bindery equipment. Over the years, the company built its printing capabilities from the ground up to provide a wide range of printing services, which include inserts, tabloid newspapers, mini-tab booklets, coupon books, detach cards, postcards and coated covers. The postpress operation provides various bindery services, including saddlestitching, ink-jet labeling and chop cutting. The printer also provides a full line of inserting and mailing services that handles more than 10 million inserts per week and labels more than three million pieces per week.
“We recently installed a new eight-color Didde web press, so we can now offer printing on inserts and detach labeling cards in-house,” explains Simon. “We also added four new units to our two main presses to increase our level of quality, and we have converted one press line to all automatic inking. Having all four-high towers gives us a greater capacity to do four-color work and, as importantly, provides better registration. All five of our presses are capable of excellent four-color reproduction for both tabloids and compact (mini-tab) books.