Portrait of a Family Business

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“The difference between a doer and a dreamer is action! Do what it takes to make your dreams come to life!

Life in our family was about printing, lithography, and stripping challenges (traditional film imposition — a thing of the past). My parents’ dream was to operate their own business. 1974 was lift-off. Pep (Arnold) and Dee (Diane) borrowed $7000 from grandma and Pep Printing, the original name of the company, opened on a borrowed press in the back of a friend’s stationery store. Wheelsport, a motorcycle parts catalog, and JK Gill, a chain of stationery stores, were our first clients. Six months later, they leased space in NW Portland’s dilapidated warehouse district (now the upscale Pearl District). With the purchase of a Multi press and an Itek paper plate camera, we were in it for the long haul!

Catalogs were updated weekly and Wednesday nights were collating nights at our house. When full catalog updates came in, Mom, Dad, and all three of us kids spent whole weekends walking around lines of tables gathering pages. After a few years of collating, running a multi, and shooting film with a monster 20-foot-long process camera, I was having difficulty seeing the glamour of it all.

Recession in the early 80’s prompted action. Walking out the front door of our 6-man shop and down Everett Street, I knocked on doors, looking to stir to up a little business.  The discovery of a few small advertising agencies who jumped on our service (willingness to work through the night) and quality (guaranteed) let us expand our scope. Creative color schemes, interesting papers, and actual design began to enliven our usual run of spec sheets and black-only catalog projects.

Thirty-eight years into it, Premier Press is still owned and run by the family — on our third and-a-half generation. (My grandparents worked for my parents for a few years). We may literally have ink in our blood. Our goal is to assemble the best team and equip them with the best technologies for quality, service and sustainability. We love taking on projects, large and small. Now 125 employees strong, our Offset, Digital, Wide Format, Design, and IT facility fills three floors in the Pearl District. Nearby in the NW Industrial District are our Warehouse and Fulfillment Center, Mailing Department, and Bookbinding Facility.

The possibilities for increased market performance with developing technology, internet marketing and a mix of social media/traditional print, make this an amazing industry. It’s still sometimes difficult to see the glamour, but as we partner with clients, friends and neighbors, it is exciting and very satisfying to be a part of their business growth, branding,and marketing achievements.




We are closed today due to unsafe road conditions.