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Pro Line Printing--Third Time's The Charm

September 2000
BY CAROLINE MILLER


It seems entirely possible that if you looked up the definition of workaholic, you would find a picture of John G. Brown, owner of Pro Line Printing in Pineville, NC. "I spend as much time working as feasible. I love to work. But, I don't consider it to be work. I consider it to be very enjoyable," he reveals.

It's very evident that Brown enjoys what he does, because he has started three successful printing and printing-related companies since 1982. It's a pretty impressive statistic considering that when the native New Zealander came to the United States in 1967 to visit family in Omaha, NE, he had never seen a printing press. It gets even more impressive when you factor in that just five years after taking a part-time job at a commercial printing operation, he was running the company. Not only was he running the company, the company was very successful. When Brown became president of Rapid Printer & Mailers in 1975, the facility had three web presses and annual sales of $5 million. By the time the company was sold in 1981, it was operating five web presses and was generating $35 million in annual sales.

Not bad for someone who had never seen a printing press.

But being the company's president wasn't enough for Brown. So, when the majority owner of Rapid Press decided to retire and sell the business, Brown was ready to start his own company.

When Rapid Press was sold, Brown says that it never occurred to him that he might go to work for another printing company. "I find total satisfaction in starting and then building new companies. I knew it was a risk. There's always a risk involved in something new. But it's a risk with which I'm comfortable," he explains.

And taking risks seems to agree with Brown. In 1982, with a new partner, Brown opened Retail Graphics in Kansas City, MO. With two Goss C150 web presses, Brown set to work designing, printing and mailing grocery inserts, just as he had done at Rapid Printing. Within a year of opening Retail Graphics, Brown opened a second location and the company headquarters in Dallas.

"It was a good market for us strategically, and it was a nice place to live," he reports.

Retail Graphics continued to grow with the opening of a third location in Charlotte, NC, in 1992. By 1994, when Brown and his partner were approached by Big Flower Press to sell, Retail Graphics was posting annuals sales of $150 million. Despite his success, Brown decided to sell the business to Big Flower.
 

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