Centennial Celebrations — Changing with the Times

A snapshot into the 100-year-old history of Sumter Printing is seen here in this 1926 photo, where the date is displayed on a calendar hanging from the wall.

A LITTLE later this year, Printing Impressions will celebrate its 50th anniversary. Fifty years is a very long time in the publishing business. When you consider the challenges facing printed communications and hard copy magazines, we all deserve a round of applause for thriving in a changing business environment.

Think about the past 20 years alone. Among the greatest technological feats, we’ve seen desktop publishing, computer-to-plate, digital printing, digital color proofing and JDF, not to mention variable data and Web-to-print. The way we do business now is a far cry from just 10 years ago, when many of the aforementioned technologies either didn’t exist or were still in their nascent stage.

Sure, PI is proud of our big Five-O, but a sobering thought is the notion that there are many printing companies out there that have been around twice as long. One hundred years is inconceivable. Lasting that long in an industry with volatile technologies and vastly changing markets is improbable.

So we don’t wish to hog all the birthday cake to ourselves. We’re going to throw 50 more candles on it for a trio of printers that have or are about to cross the century mark. And while they’re enjoying coffee after the cake’s been polished off, we’re going to ask a few questions about how they managed to last this long.

And now, the introductions:

First up is Elliot Schindler, executive vice president of Pearl Pressman Liberty Communications Group (PPLCG) of Philadelphia. PPLCG was founded in 1907 by Manuel Pearl and Charles Pressman, who cobbled together $60 and bought a foot-powered press, assorted type and paper. Incidentally, how cool is it that a printing company was co-founded by a person named Pressman? It’d be like saying Chrysler was founded by Charles Muffler.

The company has a colorful past, with acquisitions of other printing shops. PPLCG itself has been sold, bought back and is now in the hands of senior management. It marked the 50-year anniversary with a devastating plant fire. And while printers have dropped off the Philadelphia landscape, PPLCG remains a staple.

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