Pro Line Printing--Third Time's The Charm
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.
As part of the agreement, Brown signed a five-year, non-compete agreement. Now, while others in his place would have headed to the golf course to brush up on their game, Brown did what he does best. He started another company.
In 1995, Pro Line Paper—a paper brokerage—was born. Brown ran Pro Line during the five years of the non-compete agreement. However, as soon as the agreement expired in 1999, Brown was ready to get back into the printing business. He sold Pro Line Paper, but retained the name. Last November, he found a new partner in Leslie Dover and opened Pro Line Printing in Charlotte.
But why start another printing operation? Brown knew that he needed to be back in the graphic arts industry.
"I enjoy the challenges and the creativity of the printing business. I enjoy creating the business structure of the company, the physical layout of the building. I like the human interaction and watching people develop," he says.
Founding Pro Line Printing was also the chance to bring his youngest son, Chad, into the business. Chad had worked with him for five years at Pro Line Paper. "It's an opportunity to bring my son into the business, and allow him to take it as far as it can go," Brown says with pride.