Shapco Printing Gets a New Lease on Life with Capex Infusion, New Location

Shapco Printing executives (from left): Don Johnson, Joe Avery and Joel Shapiro. Photo by David Sherman Photography.

Shapco’s conventional printing capabilities include a six-color, 40˝ Komori Lithrone.

A full-color digital job gets produced on Shapco Printing’s new HP Indigo 7600 press, which can handle a 13x19˝ sheet size.

The shop floor is awash in activity, including the installation of a new eight-color (plus coater) Komori Lithrone sheetfed press.

Breaking Out from the Pack

Let’s turn back the clock for a moment. The year is 1988, and Shapco is grinding it out, producing one- and two-color sheetfed work, some process color, and posting about $3 million in sales. The company was doing OK financially, but something didn’t seem right. The equipment wasn’t anywhere near top of the line, and that began to eat away at Shapiro, because the results didn’t rise to his level of expectations.

“We had leveled out (sales-wise) and become a second-tier printer,” Shapiro notes. “In 1988, I decided to change the direction of the company and become a first-rate, top-shelf, primo-quality operation.”

It wasn’t long before Shapco Printing knocked it out of the park in regards to quality—more on that in a moment—and there’s an interesting correlation with the old Minneapolis neighborhood that runs parallel with Shapco’s transformation from down-and-dirty job printer to high-end, quality-critical artisan shop. Major League Baseball’s Minnesota Twins moved into their new park, Target Field, which is located diagonally across the street from Shapco’s old building. As a result, all light and heavy transit rail emanated from Shapiro’s front door. The neighborhood, once the “armpit of Minneapolis,” is now prime, expensive and highly desirable.

The 53,000-square-foot property was sold to developer United Properties for an undisclosed sum and the building will be demolished next month. In its place will be a $59 million headquarters constructed for national bone marrow donation nonprofit entity “Be the Match.”

As for Shapco Printing, its new space is a much-roomier, 123,000-square-foot home in Golden Valley with plenty of parking spaces (employees formerly parked blocks away). The layout is much improved and access to the facility is much easier for clients, compared to the congested city. Plus, with Shapco experiencing 20 percent growth during the past four years, the need for more production space was clear.

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