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K&D Graphics — A Nice Printing Racket

August 2009 By Erik Cagle
Senior Editor
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PRINTING INDUSTRY presidents and CEOs often reflect on the skill sets that they acquired while playing sports in high school or college—teamwork, leadership, discipline, tenacity—and how those traits apply to their success in the business world.

But few executives have hailed their sports to the degree that Don Chew, president of K&D Graphics in Orange, CA, has tipped his cap to the game of badminton. Actually, a deep bow might be more appropriate, given the extent to which Chew has shown his appreciation to the sport.

In 1996, a growing K&D Graphics found itself needing more space than its 12,300-square-foot plant could provide. The Bangkok-born Chew approached the city of Orange, CA, about constructing a new 72,300-square-foot facility, of which 40,000 square feet would be earmarked for the printing operations. The rest would house a dozen badminton courts and Bebe’s Cafe, a Thai restaurant named after Chew’s daughter. The Chews were virtually a shoe store away from requesting a shopping mall but, while the city initially balked, Don Chew held his ground and got the blessing to build his dream shop.

A Real Game Changer

“Badminton changed my life,” Chew says, quite frankly. “I started playing when I was seven, and got into it seriously at the age of 14. I made new friends and it made me a better person. Badminton taught me to be a fighter on the court. And, it made me successful in business: hard work, discipline, patience.” 

Thus, the Orange County (O.C.) Badminton Club and Bebe’s Cafe coexist with K&D Graphics, making it the only printing facility in the world to boast such a business trifecta. And the sport of badminton in the United States knows no greater friend than Don Chew, who sponsors players for the Olympics and World Championships.

He has hired five coaches and invests a good deal of money in training and sponsorship fees. In fact, the facility hosted players from 16 countries in July for the U.S. Open, marking the 14th consecutive year at O.C. Badminton Club.

“I’m happy to pay back to my adopted country,” Chew says.

Printing has been in Don Chew’s blood and heart for about as long as badminton, dating back to his days working on a Heidelberg Windmill at the age of 14. He came to America in 1972 and, after working in different industries, decided to open a print shop in his garage as a part-time venture in 1981. It was important to Chew that his business become his legacy, something he could pass on to sons Montri and Gus, and daughter Bebe. Three years later, Don Chew and his wife, Kim, both quit their day jobs to devote full attention to K&D Graphics.

 

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