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3 GENERATIONS RUN PRINTING BUSINESS

Carlson Printing at Franklin and Chicago rolls with the times, focusing on personalized customer service

By Tesha M. Christensen

photo submitted
Stan Carlson started Carlson Printing in 1974 with his two sons, and his granddaughter is now working there.

The southeast corner of Franklin and Chicago has been home to a third generation family business since the 1970s.

“Although it has it’s unique challenges, it works well for us,” remarked Christy Crawford, granddaughter of the man who started Carlson Printing Company. “It’s convenient being close to downtown and the freeways, and also exciting to be surrounded by diversity and so many great non-profits working to improve people’s lives.”

Carlson Printing Company strives to be a good friend and neighbor.

“We are proud to be a third generation family business,” remarked Christy. “We feel lucky to have wonderful longtime employees, as well as fantastic customers.”

FROM THE GROUND UP

Christy’s grandfather, Stan, started the business with her dad Chris and uncle Todd in 1974. They ran the business together for several years before Chris bought it, and then her mom Susie got involved.  

“I had no plans of getting into the printing business,” recalled Susie. “I was a stay-at-home mom, and when my kids headed off to school I starting helping at the business, packing boxes, stuffing envelopes and delivering.  I learned the industry from the ground up.”  

Now she’s the company president. “I never would have never dreamed today I would be running the business,” said Susie. “Learning so many different jobs has helped me have a better perspective and understanding.”

courtesy of Carlson family
Two generations of Carlsons are currently working together at Carlson Printing, at the corner of Chicago and Franklin. Left to right: Christy Crawford with her parents, Chris and Susie Carlson. Christy says she stays at the company because she enjoys working with her family.

FIRST JOB: STUFFING ENVELOPES

Christy’s first job was stuffing envelopes when she was about seven.  “I remember Take Your Daughter to Work Day and tagging along with my dad to visit his customers,” she added.

After college, she began working at Carlson in the sales department. “My grandfather would still come into the office everyday at that time. He passed away in 2012 so I really savor those last few years I got to spend working with him,” said Christy.

Over the years, she has worked other places, but what always drawn her back is the connection to her family. 

“I enjoy seeing my family everyday and the whole business really feels like a team effort,” explained Christy. “We work really hard, but also have a lot of fun and laughs.”

She added, “We are always trying to help each other learn and never compete. We move at a fast pace and there really never is a dull day.”

Today Christy is officially in business development, but  like others in small businesses she wears many hats.

A LITTLE BIT OF EVERYTHING

Carlson Printing does a little bit of everything for clients that range from small to large. They also pride themselves on knowledgeable customer service staff who work with clients from start to finish.

“We do digital and offset printing, as well as full service mailings,” noted Christy. “Our clients vary from Fortune 500 companies to local non profits from the neighborhood. We throughly enjoy working with everyone.”

The offset commercial process is fully digital and the work-flow is based on working with files in PDF format, a change from their early days prior to the arrival of laser printers and desktop publishing. Carlson can do announcements, banners, booklets, brochures, business cards, envelopes, folders, forms of any type, invitations, labels (roll fed sheet), letterheads, logo design, manuals, newsletters, notepads, postcards, reports, sell sheets, spiral and perfect bound books, and stationary.  

Carlson Printing offers a full range of variable data printing services, including: mail merge documents, mail merge labels, form letters and more. Mailing services include processing mailing lists, inkjet addressing, postal presorting, and drop off at the Post Office with the postage option that best fits the business needs.

“Since I have been here we have really grown our digital business,” observed Christy. “Personalized mailings have became a sweet spot for us.”

TODAY’S CHALLENGES

“The biggest challenge we face is the misconception that online printing is cheaper and faster. That is not the case,” said Chris, who is vice president at Carlson. “We offer very competitive pricing at lightening speed, as well as top notch quality. You will get much more of a personalized experience choosing us.”

Christy concurred that their biggest challenge is competition from online printers. “We are lucky to have a lot of loyal customers we have worked with for years,” she stated. “We try and give our customers the best experience possible to keep them coming back.”

More at www.carlsonprinting.com.

“We are optimistic about the future!” said Crawford. “Although the industry is changing there will always be a need for printing. We look forward to evolving and being here when our customers need us.”

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