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Making Impressions for 100 years with Hall Printing

Co-owners Ingrid and Mackenzie Hope are excited to celebrate 100 years of Hall Printing. — Photo submitted by Tyler Hadikin of Stacked Films

This years marks Hall Printing’s 100th year in operation inking them boldly into history in the Kootenay region, and like any business that survives 100 years, change and adaption is inevitable and necessary.

Considering Hall printing has been making impressions for a century, like any business, the format to their success has been one of sheer ingenuity, innovative technological breakthroughs, along with tried, tested and true old fashioned dedication and commitment to their customers and the quality of the work, complemented by offering printing techniques and technologies that you wouldn’t normally find in smaller communities.

As you can envision, over the last 100 years the printing process itself has changed so much that it has become almost unrecognisable. Imagine the compositors or lithographic rotary printers from 1920 configured on the print floor of 2020. What do you think your impressions would be?

You would certainly be excited to see the progress the printing process has made. The smells would have a hint of a rich history, but the noises of digital automation create a more peaceful hive atmosphere. The speed of production blows your mind, but the lack of human touch may create concern?  

Overall, you take solace in the fact that the end product of the print itself is a familiar form, look and feel to you. It evokes great pleasure seeing your favourite family image resonate off the glossy or matte finish, perhaps your architectural visualization or development drawings reflect the countless hours you have immersed yourself into your latest housing project, or it could be the colourful artwork that connects a design with your intended audience promoting the next musical performance gracing a well-known local stage.

It’s without saying that reproduction image quality has vastly improved over the last 100 years, and the stock availability and different substrate choices are too numerous to count, but the end product or objectives still remain the same – the message of print, right back to its inception, was to inform, communicate ideas and to educate the viewer. And it goes without saying, that one hundred years is a long time in any industry, but a hundred years in the print industry is scattered and dotted with precious moments both personal and historical.

And to celebrate Hall Printing’s 100th year in the printing business they want you to help commemorate their anniversary by communicating your stories and informing them of your fondest memories of collaborating with them on your print jobs. To help showcase these memories, they recently started a campaign asking for individuals in the community to share their most memorable experiences with them.

Whether they printed your restaurant menu, a family album, a promotional poster, business cards, or custom artwork they want to hear your personal story. All those who submit pictures and stories will be entered to win some amazing prizes! All you have to do is visit www.hallprinting.caand click on the 100th Year Celebration Logo, or click through the Hall Printing box ad located on The Nelson Daily and The Daily Dose and share your personal story.

I would also like to thank Hall Printing for sponsoring The Daily Dose on our own quest to share stories balancing in the realm of arts, lifestyle culture and design of Nelson. It’s with great pleasure that in this edition, editor Jeff Sawyer dials up the tone(r) with Ingrid and Mackenzie Hope to discover what it feels like to run a print shop that maintains such a rich legacy of connecting people, their visual identities and their stories.

Hello Ingrid, thanks for taking the time to speak with me and The Daily Dose. Hall Printing was founded in 1920, and to celebrate your centenary birthday this year, which includes launching new branding and transferring part ownership to your son Mackenzie, can you reminisce on your biggest impressions since you began in the industry 30 years ago? 

When I started, we had only had our first MAC for about nine months and we had a PC with an estimating system on it, nothing else. We had a dark room to process film that was then exposed on to a printing plate. We had a mechanical cutter and folder but all other bindery processes were done by hand. No pieces of equipment had a computer interface. Our cash was very minimal and deposited once a month as we had very few non-business customers. Jobs were printed in large quantities because it was expensive to change your text and make new plates. The bindery was always full of stacks of paper that needed to be collated by hand, padded or stapled into books. Invoices were hand-written, statements and accounting were outsourced to a data processing company. Correspondence was in person or phone.

Fast forward to 2020, we have 27 computers and computer-controlled devices, 15 more pieces of equipment with electronic controls. All our printing files are digital. Orders are of a much smaller quantity because the copy on a project can be changed quite quickly and then another batch can be printed quite quickly. We are still predominately business to business, but 30% of our business is customers getting personalized items for events, gifts, books or a poster so we now have cash registers.

We have electronic machines to automate a lot of the bindery processes. Accounting is all done in house with most invoices, payments and statements processed electronically. Correspondence is mostly by email and phone.Machinery like everything else now is more disposable. We have one old press from 1940 that we still use weekly. Modern copiers are designed now to be obsolete in five years.

Printing on a press is a skilled trade and today it is very hard to find tradesmen. Small town printers are mostly digital because everything is in lower quantities and access to highly skilled print operator is difficult to source. The digital machines can be programmed to function automatically, so the shop is not dependent on finding people with the skill set to run mechanical equipment.

Having created a legacy in the printing industry in the Kootenay’s, anniversaries are a time to celebrate where you came from, but they are also designed to celebrate how you've changed. What are some of the most significant changes you have seen since buying Hall Printing 15 years ago? 

We have grown considerably because we bought two other shops in Nelson, Heritage Printing and McLaughlin Printing. Two other print shops and a copy shop have closed. Our competition is now mostly online but we offer personalized solutions and a wide range of options that cannot always be accessed by online solutions. We are starting our baby steps to an online presence. Our employees have always been our biggest asset, and we continue to have people dedicated to service and quality products. There are a lot of machines, paper and processes to learn and it takes time to develop the skills. We have had a lot of retirements, so our staff is younger now.

We have always been a community supporter of all events by printing raffle tickets, buying ads, donating printing, attending events, buying local and supporting other businesses through sharing resources or expertise. People appreciate having local faces helping them with their projects in a professional and timely manner.

How will you be celebrating your employees who contribute to Hall Printing's culture?

We had planned to celebrate with a large party and special dinner this summer, which was cancelled for obvious reasons. All employees working during the first bit of COVID got $100 worth of local gift certificates at stores they enjoy frequenting.  We have postponed our celebration until the fall or will possibly incorporate it into our Christmas party …that in the past have included fancy dinners and drinks, stays at Ainsworth, Nakusp, The Josie in Rossland and the Hume Hotel in Nelson. I hope to give a spotlight story during our 100 stories to each current employee, those willing…and to some of our retired employees.

I’m also a firm believer in personal growth reflects company growth. As a team we are embarking on a two-day intensive Productivity Assessment Roadmap and Coaching program. 

The ARC walks a company through an Assessment, Roadmap and Coaching program that introduces the fundamental principles of productivity and process improvement. Then it delivers clear recommendations and an action plan for growth and continuous improvement. What will we be doing in the next 100 years?

What do want your centenary anniversary to reflect?

I would like our centenary to reflect our dedication to being a contributing local business. We are committed to our craft, our products, expertise, knowledge, business support and mentorship, employee development and job security, local spending, friendly faces and voices who truly care about the health of the community and its people.

Naturally you took the step of becoming a co-owner with your mom Mackenzie, where would you like to put your focus with your story of growth for the future?

When people think of print, they see it as a declining industry, but there are still plenty of opportunities in print. A few areas I want to focus on expanding is wide format and packaging. Both of those markets have seen huge growth over the past few years.

What inspired your recent campaign to involve individuals in the community to share their personal stories of Hall Printing to help commemorate your 100th Anniversary? 

We really wanted to show how print is used in our community and how Hall Printing has had an impact on their lives or business. We love our community of customers, employees and former staff. We would not have survived 100 years without them.

How do you want to share Hall Printing's values and experience visually?

We have launched a new website earlier this year and are currently working on an online shop where customers can go and design and order all at once.

You have fostered hundreds of art and design connections since your beginnings at Hall Printing, and art and design connects people. How do you see innovations in printing technology influencing creative collaboration with your clients?

Printing techniques and finishes that used to be outlandishly expensive are now affordable, so designers and artists are able to be more creative with their printed piece. We are always updating and adding equipment to meet the need of our clients but also offer things that they haven’t even thought of, one example is the addition of a new printer that has clear and white toners to add depth and dimension to prints.

Check out their new website and online offerings at www.hallprinting.ca

Video Caption: Metal Tech Alley People Project video showcasing Hall Printing, produced and filmed by Tyler Hadikin, owner of Stacked Films – www.stackedfilms.com