Thursday, February 4, 2010

Printer Weathers Economy

I wrote this last week for The Bristol Press and forgot to post it. Maybe you'd still like to see it if you didn't see it in the paper this week. I thought it was worth checking on Thirteenth Floor Graphics, a business that moved to Bristol two years ago with help from an economic development grant. Given the lousy economy, I wondered how they were doing. I was happy to learn that they're holding their own:

BRISTOL-- When Stephen Rejniak moved his print shop from Rocky Hill to Bristol two years ago, he didn’t know the business would soon be entering one of the nation’s worst economic downturns.
But despite the recession, the move has worked out pretty well for Rejniak, owner of Thirteenth Floor Graphics at 375 Lake Ave.
“I’m very pleased,” said Rejniak.
Rejniak had been renting space in Rocky Hill for 14 years when he bought the property in Bristol and moved his business here.
The city helped him with an economic development grant, a boost that Rejniak said helped convince him to choose Bristol.
The grant was a $10,000 package -- $5,000 for moving costs and $5,000 for job creation. The company hasn’t created any new jobs yet, but has a couple more years to do so and collect the grant money, said Jonathan Rosenthal.
“They’ve pretty much remained about the size they came in at. Given the economy, it’s just fabulous that they’ve done that,” said Rosenthal. “They’ve managed to hold their own in a tough economy.”
Rosenthal said his office has used the printer for some design and printing work.
‘They did a nice job and they did it quickly,” Rosenthal said.
Rejniak said he wasn’t sure how well he’d be received in the Mum City, but since relocating, he said he’s kept 90 percent of his old clients and added a lot of new ones.
“People are willing to try new things,” said Rejniak.
Rejniak said he tries to build personal relationships with customers to maintain their business.
About half his business, he said, is in business cards.
A new, four-color digital press he bought -- a $350,000 investment -- Rejniak said, makes printing small runs faster and cheaper.
Because of that, Thirteenth Floor Graphics has a natural market in small and mid-sized companies who don’t need huge printing orders.
“There’s no shortage of four-color work,” said Rejniak. “We’re not a big operation, but we do some pretty good work here.”
Press operator Steve Anthony, who has worked at the company three years, said instead of the four or five printing jobs that a regular press could handle in a day, the digital press can do about 14.
“It’s almost photo quality,” said Anthony.
Anthony said he stays pretty busy every day with customer orders.
“They like the quality we give them,” Anthony said.
And some of the bigger printing houses aren’t getting as much work, which means more for shops like Thirteenth Floor Graphics, Rejniak said.
Through business networking, Rejniak said he’s picked up some larger clients since moving to Bristol.
When he moved to Bristol, Rejniak said he had seven full-time workers. Now he’s got six, and one part-time worker after laying off one pressman.
Though it hasn’t always been easy keeping the business going in the recession, Rejniak said that the timing really worked to his advantage.
He sold his stock to help buy the building, said Rejniak, just before the market collapsed.
It was “a stroke of luck,” he said, “I had no information.”
And he got a loan, he said, something he might find much more difficult to get in today’s banking climate.
“The move happened at such a phenomenal time for me,” said Rejniak.
After those lucky breaks came the recession, which wasn’t easy. But Rejniak said he feels good about this year.
“I’m an optimist,” he said. “I think that things are going to turn around in 2010. It can’t stay like this forever. I think people are ready.”

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