A-1 Printing, founded in 1983, purchased Carl Graphics and moved it to its current location at 253 East Church Street about 3 years ago. “When Carl Wade retired in 2018, Carl Graphics’ quality services and solid brand were joined with A-1 Printing to offer more comprehensive design and printing services to the Marion business community,” stated Sarah Lehnhart, Operations Manager for A-1 Printing.
Initially, Carl Graphic’s name and logo were retained because of the business’s long-standing reputation within the community. But now A-1 is ready to operate under one name, A-1 Printing. “Customers will still enjoy the same great staff, service, and products they have always received from Carl’s, but the branding will change to A-1 Printing,” said Lehnhart. Owner, Margaret Lucius, believes that operating under one name and logo will simplify processes within their organization and erase any confusion about the connection between Carl Graphics and A-1 Printing.
This change was announced on March 1st. “We found that maintaining two different brands had become challenging and resulted in some customer confusion,” said Lehnhart. “Sometimes checks would be sent to the wrong name/address, and there were some internal complications, as well.”
The company deeply values the longevity of customer service that Carl Graphics brought to the partnership. Dee Hempfield, a 40-year Marion resident and longtime employee of Carl’s, has remained with A-1 and that permanency and business knowledge is invaluable. “Quality customer service and understanding are critical parts of who we are,” said Sarah.
Each business brought a distinctive, important set of benefits to the table. A-1 Printing had digital printing, wide-format, and bindery equipment
for efficient processes and automation, providing speed and flexibility, while Carl Graphics had community longevity in Marion which equaled strong, lifelong customer relationships. Carl Graphics provided desktop publishing, graphic design, duplicating/printing services, and more. A-1 Printing, is a full-service design and printing business with locations in Marion, Bucyrus, and Upper Sandusky, and 17 total employees.
“People are often surprised to learn that our largest revenue product is business forms for local manufacturers and other companies, for production processes,” Lehnhart stated. “People don’t consider where those forms come from; it’s not top-of-mind when you think of our printing company. But, we can create a form that walks your employees through a particular process in your factory.”
During the pandemic, the printing business slowed down a bit at first. Then the business shifted to different types of jobs, according to Sarah. “Those social distancing designs you see sticking to the floors in public-serving organizations – we printed many of those. And businesses needed everything laminated: handout materials, menus, and more – for easy disinfecting (with wipes). We did a ton of laminating!”
One of the biggest challenges for the printing business is that it’s usually “feast or famine.” While some projects are anticipated and planned for in advance, many jobs come in unexpectedly and several new jobs at a time is common. It’s not always predictable, the ebb and flow of new work.
Every company needs to advertise or do some forms of marketing. A-1 Printing, according to Sarah, enjoys positive word-of-mouth and referrals from current customers. In addition, networking and referrals through organizations like the Marion Area Chamber of Commerce, along with traditional media, and targeted direct mail are other methods they have found successful for return on marketing investment. For more information, visit A-1Print.com or call 740-382-6583.