An interview with Patrick C. Jensen, owner of Anchor Graphics Printing and Design in Astoria. 439 30th St.
Patrick Jensen remembers hand-setting type as he walks around Anchor Graphics. In the print shop in back, a couple of old letterpress presses still see action for numbering, perforating, scoring and foil stamping. Next to the old-timers, a new press hums along steadily. Oliver, the shop dog, whimpers in a corner.
What's the history of this business?
"We moved into this location in about 1980. We used to be over across from the courthouse. That's where it was when I started working for the company ... in 1973.
"The business itself is around 50 years old and its antecedents ... were combined in the 1950s to make Consolidated Printing, which is our actual corporate name.
"Over time I bought into the company and now own all of it, my wife and I do."
What kind of work do you do here?
"We're a general commercial printer by nature. We get (jobs) of all types. Stationery, brochures, booklets, posters, multiple-part forms. We do a lot of label work. We even do some experimental work from time to time.
"(Customers) bring work in essentially designed or camera ready. We're a production-oriented place. It's not like we have a design component that's a separate business."
Who are your customers?
"Many of our customers have been with the company longer than I have. We've maintained good relations with them.
"We're a little off the beaten path and we don't provide quick printing services. We're really more service-oriented - customer relationships.
"We have done work over the years for the major historical societies in the area and most of the major businesses in the area. Seafood processors and manufacturers. A lot of work for small businesses. Over the years, some have disappeared like the plywood mill and Bumble Bee Seafoods.
"We try to be friendly and helpful for people who are starting out in small businesses."
"This company has been in business a very long time and we've advertised very little over the years. We rely on our reputation."
What do you like about printing?
"I originally got into it because of the craft work involved ... It's a custom manufacturing process where there's a lot of detail work and room for judgment.
"Over the years it's changed somewhat because of the types of skills you've needed, especially on the pre-press end.
"As small a business as this is, you have to do so many things that you better like most of them."
How has printing changed?
"Printing has undergone very rapid change in the last 15 to 20 years. Technological change as well as the business climate. With the advent of computers, more people are doing small jobs themselves.
"Quick print franchises and so forth have changed the nature of printing. More ordinary jobs have become commodotized.
"We've traditionally prided ourselves on being able to do the more complex and difficult jobs. We find the most satisfaction in doing the more challenge type of work.
"The biggest change in our business is the growth in multi-color and full-color printing."
What kind of volume do you do?
"I would guess that we have 25 or 30 customers that we see work from on a monthly or bi-monthly basis and some of those are fairly large jobs.
- Benjamin Romano