CEDAR RAPIDS — It would seem that when Shawn and Celeste Gallagher bought AdCraft Printing 13 years ago, they did so on a whim.
“We knew nothing about the commercial printing business when we bought Adcraft,” recalled Shawn, noting he had worked in outside sales and broadcast media.
“But I was looking for something different and the owners were looking to retire. Adcraft was in need of an infusion of energy.
“We were 100 percent offset printing when we bought the business. We are 95 percent digital printing today. This industry just changes so fast, literally from year to year it gets more sophisticated.
“So we have to be continually educated on what’s coming down the pike. And even after a dozen years, I still have a-ha moments.”
Adcraft has been operating in Cedar Rapids since 1957. While the business was once located a few blocks away — near the Smulekoff’s building — Gallagher pointed out an advertisement hanging in his office from the 1960s that lists the same phone number Adcraft uses today.
“I’d guess we are one of the oldest continually running printers in the Cedar Rapids area,” he said.
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Adcraft has been located in its current location on Fifth Avenue downtown since 1991, which means it also survived the 2008 flood. Customers are sure to notice the plaque with the high water mark line in the lobby.
“We were back in five weeks and three days,” Gallagher recalled. “The flood forced us to make some changes we wanted and needed to make, so that was a good thing. We just paid off our last flood loan last year.”
The full-service printing company handles everything from runs of stationery and newsletters to labels and multiple part forms. They even have a small in-house screen printing operation.
“What’s that saying about being large enough to handle the job but small enough to care?” he said. “We are locally, family-owned and we’ve had some of the same clients for the 60 years we’ve been in business.
“We really hold on to the customers we have.”
As their own business has grown and changed, so, too, have those of their customers and Gallagher said it’s rewarding to see customers — old and new — thrive.
“It’s fun interacting with customers and seeing projects from the beginning to the end. We get to be part of our customers’ success. What we work on for them is critical to their identity and it’s fulfilling to be a part of that.”
Depending on the year, Gallagher said that anywhere from 15 percent to 30 percent of their business is printing for political campaigns.
“I was involved in Democratic politics my whole life and we are union shop,” he said of how the business tapped into the campaign printing market. “We figured out and understand political printing, especially their timelines and deadlines, (and) are friendly to that.”
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Gallagher said they have definitely seen an uptick in this niche of their business, with 2018 being a record year for political printing.
“People think printing is a dying industry, but they are wrong,” he contended. “It has simply changed. We used to do really long runs of things — 50,000 copies that would take a couple days on one machine. Now it’s mostly shorter runs.
“It’s on-demand printing, but customers still expect high quality and good service. And there aren’t as many smaller print shops as there used to be.”
The company includes one part-time and three full-time employees along with the Gallaghers.
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At a glance
l Owner: Shawn Gallagher
l Business: AdCraft Printing
l Address: 309 Fifth Ave. SE, Cedar Rapids
l Phone: (319) 363-8275
l Website: adcraftprinting.com