We have a tradition here at Batchbook to follow-up all of our customer onboardings with hand-written thank you notes. We think that simple human connection goes a long way, and we’ve heard from recipients that it’s a nice touch not often seen in the business world. The thing is that we’re truly grateful for the opportunity to get to know the people using our product. Onboardings aren’t scripted, dry, boilerplate training sessions, they’re real conversations that happen when two people meet to solve a problem. There’s a lot of listening and thoughtful asking and brainstorming, and we love that the people we get a chance to onboard are up to that task. So we take time out to say thanks.
We get our thank you cards from DWRI Letterpress, Inc., one of the most lovely small businesses we’ve had the pleasure of working with. Christelle and I have gone to their shop several times to pick up our orders, and we’re always a bit starry-eyed at being surrounded by such rich material and amazing machinery. And the service we get? It’s the best. Dan Wood, DWRI owner, is always gracious and energetic, answering all our questions candidly and fully. He gives us off-the-cuff tours of his giant, turn-of-the-century machines, hands out fun samples and reveals sneak peeks of his latest projects, which range from music artist CD packaging to personalized pencils for a grade 2 classroom. They’re just peachy, and the work they do is meticulous, feels rich & divine to hold.
We met up with Dan and Lois recently for an officially-scheduled tour of the shop, complete with pictures and some fun videos of presses & pencil embossing machines. Dan took the time to interview with us, so we’re serving the whole experience here for fun and inspiration. And to say thanks, to DWRI. We’re kinda big on that last part 🙂
Hi there. Tell us a bit about you and the DWRI adventure.
Well, after graduating from art school in printmaking, I began working in commercial offset printing as a press operator in 1994. While continuing to use the process to make my own work, I soon began offering offset and letterpress printing to other artists and designers as Garbaszawa Press, with a mix of invitation and stationery work as well as commissions with fellow artists. Re-inaugurated as DWRI Letterpress in 2002, we are now a full service letterpress printing company, offering letterpress printing/foil stamping/diecutting/typecasting and just about anything else we can do on this equipment to individuals, artists, companies, designers, and anyone else who appreciates letterpress printing with a super high attention to detail.
What does a typical day look like for you?
We generally start the day with a (hopefully!) quick meeting. Lois Harada, who is the main contact point for customers, will break down the jobs and establish what myself and press operator Hope Anderson will do. We sometimes argue, and then the day begins! Any day could be a new round of business cards, a multiple color art editioning project, a rush order of 2500 letterpress lyric books, or almost anything else. As anyone involved in the printing world can attest, typical days are few and far between.
(Editor’s note: Lois rules!)
Who are your customers?
We work with a variety of clients, from individuals launching their first business or print project, to established graphic designers, wedding planners, fine art print publishers, companies needing packaging, and the like. We are an oddity in the letterpress world, as we work with a very wide variety of clientele, from individuals to large companies. We are small enough to give each project a high degree of attention, no matter which world they are coming from.
What’s the nicest thing a customer has done for you?
So many things, we have the nicest customers! Once a band for whom we were printing record covers and posters offered us help to move an apartment, and lo and behold they showed up that night in between sets with the empty tour van and moved large mattresses on the spot!
What are your top 3 challenges as a small biz owner?
Balancing the running of the business while still doing the work has always been a challenge for me. Staying busy while at the same time staying profitable comes as a close second. Maintaining 50-100 year old equipment is not easy, either!
What advice can you share with other small biz owners or aspiring small biz owners?
Staying true to your own expertise and passions has been a great philosophy from a business standpoint for me. If it doesn’t work out – Hey, at least you are doing something you enjoy! And people do tend to gravitate to work that shows the level of dedication and craft when you are doing something that you truly care about.
Where do you see DWRI in the next 10 years?
Hopefully still small enough to stay true to the ideals of the craft we love, but consistently busy enough to exhale just a little bit. You know, that perfect balance!