2008 HOF — A Year to Remember
Born on a farm in northern Virginia during World War II, Mayes spent much of his childhood in the Washington, DC, area. Reared with a strong Episcopalian ethos, he never missed a Sunday at church before graduating from high school. He had his first taste of printing as an elective in junior high school, operating handfed windmill presses.
Printing always fascinated Mayes; he was also interested in type and design. But Mayes’ high school didn’t offer any printing classes. The profession took a back seat as he graduated high school, then earned a degree in business administration from American University. Once out of college, Mayes went into the insurance business. It didn’t take.
“I didn’t care much for selling insurance,” he says. “One of the customers I called on was a printer, Creative Printing. Every time I visited, the owner offered me a position. It intrigued me, plus it was something different, and I was ready for a challenge.”
Mayes jumped to Creative in 1974, then tried his hand with a couple of other printers, including the former French Bray in Baltimore. Seeking the stewardship of a company, he got wind of a company in need of a succession plan. So, in December 1986, Mayes acquired ColorCraft of Virginia. At the time, ColorCraft boasted annual sales of $2.5 million. Over the next two years, it posted revenues of $4.3 million, then $5.3 million.
Sales kept burgeoning to a high of $17 million, just before 9/11 reared its head. “We had a sudden 20 percent drop in sales and went through two rounds of layoffs in a three-month period,” he recalls. “Laying people off was painful; I knew most of those folks fairly well. While we continued to be profitable after the layoffs, it wasn’t the same level of profitability that we enjoyed in the 1990s.”