Graphic Communications – Not Your Ordinary Press

By Joe Hyer

I love books, and I love reading.  And it’s great that bookstores give out free bookmarks.  Great Advertising, and timely. You see it every time you read.  Do bookmarks, however, make you want to go see a play? So in the midst of the Great Recession, when Harlequin Productions was searching between the lobby couch cushions for change to balance the budget, I suggested we might save a little by not printing bookmarks.  Nope.  The bookmarks cost nothing.

Why?  Because the fine folks at Graphic Communications, years ago, realized there was a small amount of paper left when printing Harlequin’s postcards and poster.  Rather than waste the paper and space- it makes bookmarks at no cost.  And that is how we eliminate waste in this story.

After relating this tale to Doug Souliere, owner of Graphic Communications, I was not surprised to learn he has long been a supporter of  Harlequin.  “I started attending with the second or third play, I think,” he mused as we talked about this story.  I was very surprised to learn, however, that he has an artistic background, and has even acted in shows.

            Founded by Souliere in 1984, Graphic Communications has stayed loyal to its Downtown Olympia location on Columbia Street as other printers and manufacturing businesses have moved out of the core to industrial zones.  But being local, in this competitive world, is not enough.  What are the other keys to success?  Great quality and customer service, according to Graphic Communications website.

For Doug, the key to both those things are quality employees.  He’s committed to fair and living wages since he began the company, and loathes the idea of lay-offs.  “High quality printing takes skilled people, and if you don’t think of your staff’s well-being first and foremost, you risk losing your best talent,” said Souliere.

The business has changed dramatically, however, in the thirty plus years they’ve been around.  Digital printing, subcontracting jobs, and technology changes have made it far more competitive, and too few customers think about the wages and welfare of their printer’s staff.  Graphic expanded by acquiring South Bay Press in Lacey, as well as a small print shop in Shelton.  The satellite locations offer convenient digital printing, and feed the larger offset print jobs to the main location downtown.

           What makes Doug’s business unique is the specialty offerings.  Foil, embossing, giclee and fine art prints, and other unique jobs are a niche many on-line and chain printers no longer offer.  They are also why supporting these more craft presses is essential if we want these services to be around in the years to come.

Take the fine art prints, for example.  I didn’t realize until recently I have had one on my wall since 2004.  In celebration of the completion of the Olympia-Yashiro Friendship Bridge (AKA Fourth Avenue Bridge), an original painting was commissioned.  Prints were sold as a fundraiser.  And a truly Local piece of art was created- both the painting and the bridge.

Graphic Communications is the type of business that makes Local shine.  Visit their website and you’ll note they operate by a triple bottom line, assessing their impacts on the environment and community as part of their operations.  Recycled stock, vegetable inks, and engineering each job to use the least amount of paper – reducing waste, and not wasting money.

           We have a lot of printing choices these days.  The Localist, looking for quality, great service and value, will naturally be drawn to quality businesses.  It’s well worth it to do a little research before picking that bid, a triple bottom line review can make a lot of difference.  The lowest price is rarely the best value.