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Special Editions — The Joy of Printing

June 2007 BY Cheryl Adams
Managing Editor
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You know that you’re a small-town printer when your customers stop by without an appointment, with their kids and pets in tow, just to say Hello.

That’s what life—and business—is like in the small Midwestern town of Sussex, WI, and Brandon Esser, president and co-owner of Special Editions, wouldn’t have it any other way. He claims that he and his partner, Tom Peterman, are perfectly happy running their small, but-high tech printing business, which boasts only 13 employees (including the owners), 150 customers and revenues of about $1.5 million a year. According to Esser, living in a small town and doing business with people who are not only customers, but also friends, is a blessing that bigger printers probably wouldn’t understand.

“We don’t want to be a big printer; although growing, at some point, to medium-size might be nice,” he says. “As a small printer, we enjoy the wealth that comes from being happy, loving what we’re doing, and working with people we know and care about. Wealth shouldn’t be measured in financial terms alone; we’re very wealthy here at Special Editions—because we’re happy doing what we do, which is building a business based on integrity, friendship and the joy of printing.”

Plenty of Press Power

Special Editions prints everything from business cards and letterhead to high-end annual reports and other commercial products. Run lengths are as small as 2,000 and as large as 50,000. The company operates four presses: a two-color, 17˝ Ryobi 3302; a four-color, 17˝ Ryobi 3304; a two-color, 26˝ Polly 266 perfector; and (as of March) a five-color, 29˝ Ryobi 755 with tower coater. Prepress technology includes a Screen PlateRite 4300 platesetter and Trueflow workflow, and there’s a full-service bindery.

“Our business has always been word of mouth,” explains Esser. “We’re in business—and able to stay in business—because our customers spread the word about us. We have a reputation as a small, family owned business. We are the owners-operators-employees; our clients are our sales reps.”

Many Special Editions clients have been with the company since it first started in 1993. “Our customers know us. We live in the same community, attend the same events, go to the same social clubs, belong to the same organizations,” he adds. “Our sales have grown steadily over the years, mostly by word of mouth. We didn’t even have a full-time salesperson until the late 1990s. To this day, he’s the only sales rep we have.”
 

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