2006 PRINTING INDUSTRY HALL OF FAME — SUCCESS, THE HARD WAY
Jim and Arnie Hopkins enjoy a quiet moment in Venice, Italy.
Jim and Arnie Hopkins with their grandchildren in St. Thomas.
It’s a night out on the town for Jim Hopkins and his grandchildren.
Jim Hopkins catches the train while on holiday in Milan, Italy.
Entering the Industry
In the end, Hopkins discovered his professional destiny rather accidentally in the early 1970s. His wife, Arnie, was performing typing work for a number of customers, including a local printer named Esley McCloud. Hopkins would personally deliver the finished work to McCloud and—as he studied the printer’s shop, its equipment and the work being performed—he developed more and more interest in joining the profession.
“When I visited McCloud’s plant, I began to realize that several of my talents and abilities were encapsulated in printing,” he says. “I could do some layout work, though I was by no means an artist, but I knew how to lay things out straight and work with art boards. I had a hobby as a photographer, which was really the core of offset printing back then because of the use of film. My mechanical aptitude helped because one needs to be a reasonably good mechanic to work on printing equipment. And I also had sales experience.
Despite no formal education in business elements, and lacking a business plan, Hopkins set the wheels in motion to start his own shop from the ground floor—in this case, the cement garage floor. He took a $2,000 loan from the bank, and secured another $1,000 from his mother. He had a plan to pay back the debts, if he didn’t succeed in printing, in the long run. In the end, he was able to do both.
“I’ve never been one to quit at things; I’ve usually been able to make it all work by trying harder,” he says. “In some ways, I’ve kind of lived the American Dream. I started a company in my garage and it’s grown into a multimillion-dollar business.”
While still working for Timken Roller Bearing, Hopkins printed at night and, on the way home from his day job, would make sales calls on prospective clients. His wife, Arnie, worked the counter, taking walk-in orders for their newly christened Hop-to Printing, a quick printing operation that also dabbled in commercial work. Within a year or so, Hopkins left Timken to concentrate on his printing business full-time.