When Colleen McCarrier began searching for a printer to advertise the “Come Home to the Dome” events celebrating the 100th anniversary of St. Josaphat Basilica last year, she didn’t need to look past her own backyard.
The backyard of the Milwaukee Archdiocese, that is.
As coordinator of the event, she not only needed to oversee the design of the posters, invitations and programs, but also had to do so within a tight budget.
Al Lancour, director of printing, worked one-on-one with McCarrier to ensure the finished products met with her approval as well as the approval of the Basilica Foundation Board.
“The experience and product and service they provided to us was just fantastic,” McCarrier said. “I was under the assumption that they only did printing jobs for the archdiocese, but they are ‘open for business,’ so to speak, for all businesses and event projects.”
Comments such as those by McCarrier make Lancour’s day, as he seeks to re-energize the 37-year-old print shop as it was in its heyday in the 1980s.
“We hear feedback from lots of people that they are happy to find out about us,” said Lancour. “We’ve been in business since 1974 and were initially located where the original archdiocesan offices were on 95th and Blue Mound – where St. Therese Parish is now. We have grown and shrunk several times; it’s been a roller coaster but very challenging and exciting.”
Staffed with a dozen employees, the print shop dropped to nine when it moved its operations to the Cousins Center in 1984. With the many financial difficulties in the archdiocese, staff was cut to its present crew of three, Lancour, Kevin Chelminiak, and Jessie (Jessica) Mierzejewski. After the archdiocese let the print shop go in 2007, Saint Francis Seminary brought the operation to its campus in order to help with seminary printing and ultimately to increase vocations to the priesthood.
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“They wanted us to keep printing,” said Lancour. “They are funding the print shop and any proceeds we get go for priestly vocation ministries and keeping the priesthood alive.”
With better machinery and technology, Lancour is busy sending out e-mails, advertising and trying to rebuild the business – and he’s hoping that area parishes and non-profit organizations will take notice. Callers might notice one significant difference immediately; a phone call to the print shop is answered by one of the staffers rather than an elaborate and elongated voice activation system.
“We do our best to provide the personal touch in every aspect of this business. We pride ourselves in details and in doing print work that others don’t prefer to do,” said Lancour, who will farm out jobs if he cannot compete with larger print shops. “But we do our best to meet the needs of our customers and will bend over backwards for them, deliver and accommodate however we can. Most customers love the friendly and quick turnaround service – if we quote it, we will do it and if we can’t do it, we say it.”
The friendly service and working with people rather than going online appealed to McCarrier, who plans to use the print shop for additional projects.
“They were less expensive, and I didn’t have to pay any shipping fees,” she said.
Not only are shipping charges rare, oftentimes Lancour will hand deliver the custom designed raffle tickets, orders of worship, parish newsletters, brochures, directories and office stationery.
“We used to do a quite a few coil-bound church cookbooks, too, and were very competitive. We are still open to that,” he said, adding, “And in addition to printing for the archdiocese, Catholic churches and organizations, we also print for other faiths, and even outside of the diocese.”
Despite the onslaught of large-scale print shops, the Saint Francis Seminary print shop has endured the fluctuation of budgets and advances in technology, and has remained a resilient and important facet of the day-to-day business in the Catholic community in southeastern Wisconsin.
“We are not trying to crush any big print shops or take any work away from them,” explained Lancour. “We are just asking that anyone looking for another option to consider us. We have grown and shrunk before and we can grow again. We have never closed in 36 years and welcome anyone to call and give us a try.”