"We are truly a family business, and with the way Bob runs it, we're willing to stay here day and night to do whatever it takes to bring work in," notes Joan Gajewski, who is in charge of administrative, accounts payable and receivables, and human resources from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. When 4:30 rolls around, Joan finds herself drilling, stitching and collating—not her favorite tasks, but they need to be done.
"We work a little bit understaffed but, in nine years in business, we've never laid anybody off," she adds. "It's tough out there right now, but we've been very lucky to stay busy. I attribute that to the fact that nobody here is afraid to work hard."
Trend Graphics has enjoyed a 35 percent increase in sales the past two years, producing items such as booklets, newsletters, circulars, business cards, letterhead, envelopes and some forms (mainly NCR). Its client roster includes villages and park districts, retailers, grocers, pharmacies and medical management companies. While most of Trend's business comes from around the Chicago area, the printer does reach into states such as Minnesota, Florida, Wisconsin and Arizona.
The Gajewskis started out producing a lot of work on digital copiers, but soon became frustrated with their lack of durability, hit-and-miss service and those dreaded click charges. And, if that weren't enough, Bob Gajewski was seeing competition from an unlikely place—his own vendors and clients.
"One day I walked into one of my largest customers and saw the same, exact copier that we have," he recalls. "They were paying the same per-click charge that I was paying. It made me aggravated that my supplier was also out there selling to end users."
With short-run work dwindling and increased demand for run lengths up to 10,000 copies, the Gajewskis decided to enter the offset market with a half-size, four-color Sakurai 458 sheetfed press. The company initially outsourced its platemaking, which became expensive and which also put the fate of quick turnarounds in someone else's hands. So Bob Gajewski decided to bring it in-house and obtain a DPX 4 platesetter from Mitsubishi Imaging, which outputs Silver DigiPlate plates. The polyester computer-to-plate route has suited him just fine so far.