Print shop evolved into a full-service digital marketing force
By Mary Louise Van Dyke
Peering into a crystal ball might have given Becky and Larry Raney interesting insights into the evolution of the print business when launching Print & Copy Factory LLC in 1992. At that time that industry was focused primarily on paper solutions.
The fledgling Internet seemed ill-suited for businesses looking to maximize marketing efforts. Today, however, 25 years later, the company has survived various ups and downs to become a marketing resource center in Bellingham’s Irongate industrial area.
The staff of seven includes co-owners Becky as chief operating officer, and Larry as chief executive officer. Their services feature web and brand identity design, marketing concepts, printing, and promotional products. “We are not just a printer, we create the full package,” Becky Raney said.
The couple launched Print & Copy Factory with no money, but armed with many combined years of experience at Kinko’s headquarters in Santa Barbara, Calif.
Purchasing a small house for a print shop, in a then-undeveloped part of Bellingham on Irongate Road involved a leap of faith. The area was slated for a future industry boom. The first year resulted in building a customer base and discovering that very rarely an account wasn’t worth keeping.
The business grew over 300 percent in the first year, Becky said, and the house needed remodeling to accommodate the growth. The Raneys added a 6,000 square-foot addition in 1996. Most of their customer base is located in Whatcom and Skagit counties and some in Canada, although a few large accounts have locations across the United States.
Many people wouldn’t bother to answer the phone after the close of the work day, Becky said. Thinking outside of that mindset brought Print & Copy Factory great results, particularly with one call. That caller wanted information about book printing. The job turned into a $1.2 million project that involved shipping large print runs to Barnes & Noble warehouses.
“I would not have gotten that job if I had decided not to pick up the phone after hours,” Becky said.
When the economy crashed in 2008 small business owners sought help from the Raneys’ company, saying they didn’t have any money but that they needed to continue to market their businesses. How could Print & Copy Factory help them? Finding solutions for those customers while also staying focused on keeping on track financially “was grueling,” Becky said. “One of the biggest continuing challenges is working to always be 10 steps ahead of what customers want.”
The company is revamping its website to allow customers to design online and to create fresh markets for Print & Copy Factory’s services. Their blog, for example, offers businesses advice on how to put social media and apps to work for enhanced success.
“Printing is always going to be around, just how will it look in the future?” Becky asked. “We feel by adding mailing services and website services that this helps our customers businesses capture a better range and reach that is consistent with their marketing efforts.”
Print & Copy Factory is involved in the Bellingham Whatcom Chamber of Commerce, and Becky Raney serves on the board of the Whatcom Business Alliance. They support other local organizations and provide donations to nonprofits such as Womencare Shelter.
“Surviving to the 25th year, with all of the ups and downs running a business,” Becky said, “we are thankful every day for customers calling and walking through the door.”