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Envelope Mart USA/H.O.T Printing: The Ultimate Family Affair

October 2013 By Erik Cagle, Senior Editor
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Turn back the clock to 1978. A young Greg Shapiro and his wife decide to take a weekend trip from their suburban Detroit home to Toledo, OH, and visit Shapiro's mother, Inez. What he found upon arriving at mom's house was a little bit jarring. It seems Inez Shapiro had brought home her work.

More specifically, the work had consumed her home. Inez literally had jobs sitting all over the place, and it was clear that she needed some assistance. As the Shapiros trekked back up I-75 at the end of the visit, it occurred to Greg that mom's House of Type typesetting business—at this point an apt name, considering the state of Inez's home—was in need of a lifeline.

There were probably a thousand reasons for Greg Shapiro to stay put, though. He had a good job with a Fortune 500 firm in the Detroit area. His wife, Pam, was a registered nurse. Their future looked promising. Why delve into a home-based business operation?

Well, there was one reason to come home: Mom.

In short order, the Shapiro brothers—Greg, Myron and Norm—joined their mother's business. "We made the decision to move," Greg Shapiro says. "My wife worked and supported us. I never took a paycheck that first year. You make those kind of sacrifices to build something for the future. So I started knocking on doors and we began building the business."

Myron came aboard a year after Greg, then Norm—who had actually started his own printing side business after rebuilding a beat-up, $50 Multilith press—entered the fold and the two businesses married.

Inez Shapiro had her own remarkable story. A single mother, she needed a job following her divorce. A friend helped Mrs. Shapiro secure a typesetting job, which she did for several years. She later joined another firm, which suffered a devastating fire that caused the shop to close. At this point, Mrs. Shapiro's friend made a suggestion...start her own typesetting business. Her friend offered more than advice by ponying up a $3,000 loan to help Mrs. Shapiro get started.

The business was destined to succeed. Failure, according to Greg Shapiro, simply wasn't an option. "There was a fear of failure," he admits. "We worked hard and tried to keep our heads screwed on straight. We've certainly made some mistakes over the years, but none were fatal. And sometimes it only takes one mistake to blow away all the years of hard work."

 

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