IT'S BEEN said that the small, mom-and-pop commercial printer is going the route of the VCR and the music store—away and out of business. Yes, it's true that consolidation has eroded the small printer base, but we've been hearing about that for 20 years. And there is an abundance of $1 million a year shops still in business; far more of them than there are $50 million performers.
Trends show a business pattern, until the next fad comes down the block. Then we're saddled with a "what's hot, what's not" list. What's out at the moment? Well, 40? sheetfed offset printers have been taking it on the chin as some big names disappear from the radar.
General commercial printers need to add ancillary services. You can't make money on black-and-white copiers; you can make money with variable data digital printing (quit snickering). Digital color is the true path to the future...well, that, plus large-format output and package printing. And, for crying out loud, no one makes a nickel by being the low-cost provider.
All sounds very familiar, right? Well, for your consideration is Trend Graphics, a $1.4 million general commercial printer based in Huntley, IL. Mom and pop are Joan and Bob Gajewski, respectively. Other staffers include Mike Gajewski—Bob's brother—Bob's son and daughter (Bob Jr. and Jeannine), and his son-in-law, Jeff. Three other non-family workers compose the team of Trend Graphics.
The 'W' Word
It seems the Gajewskis have stumbled on a trend, pardon the pun, that has yet to be contradicted or discredited: Work your tail off, and chances are that you will succeed in the printing industry. It seems hard work has been able to carry companies through good times and bad, and enables them to withstand flavor du jour hot markets and products. Their approach to markets and products may not be, ahem, trendy, but the results work for them.