“I used to work 24 hours straight … Now, I don’t have to be there.”
Mark Kendall, founder and owner of Kendall Printing Co., still keeps on top of things at his 40,000-square-foot plant in west Greeley. But after 21 years in business, he’s attained a comfort level that allows him to stand back and watch plant manager Kevin McDermott run the show.
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“It’s been wonderful,” he said. Kendall has just returned from a month-long trip to the Amazon, something he says he would never have been able to do had it not been for Kendall Printing. He says he’d always wanted to travel, and now he can.
Kendall had been working as a production manager for another local printer before he started Kendall Printing in 1984. He said owning a business had been his goal since college.
Kathy Lauerman, president of the Printing and Imaging Association Mountain States, an industry trade group based in Denver, applauded what Kendall has produced.
“Even from a distance … I’m beyond impressed,” Lauerman said. “They use traditional theory but with new technology that is appropriate … They do wonderful work.”
When starting his business, Kendall focused on three key things: building a strong relationship with the client to provide impeccable customer service, creating high-quality print jobs and continually improving the printing environment to attain maximum efficiency. All these elements comprise Kendall Printing’s mission statement.
Since 1984, Kendall has grown from a two-employee operation to a company with 65 workers and hundreds of clients, including Hewlett-Packard Co. and universities in Colorado. At one point, the operation required nearly 100 employees, but because of technological advances in printing, Kendall has learned to run lean.
For instance, the company’s pre-press department, which used to require a staff of 24, now operates with four.
Kendall’s also learned to adapt to changing market conditions. He said the company’s customer base has “turned over” almost completely in the last five years, in part due to the cuts at technology companies that used to provide the bulk of his contracts.
Kendall Printing Co. was the first commercial printer in Colorado to receive ISO 9002 certification. Lauerman said this is “very prestigious.” ISO stands for International Standards Organization, founded in 1946 to promote development of international standards and related activities, including conformity to assessment, to facilitate exchange of goods and services worldwide.
Basically, Kendall said, this means that protocol is in place for every element in the printing process. The certification “demonstrates your commitment to quality,” he said. The company is audited twice a year to make sure they are adhering to the ISO standards.
The existing plant, built in 1992, includes an extra three acres of property. That’s because Kendall once planned to build a 30,000 square-foot addition. But that’s no longer necessary.
“With the advent of new technology and the ability to turn around work efficiently,” he said.
The building has accommodated various efficiencies, and Lauerman calls it “beautiful, clean and progressive.”
Kendall said he’s very pleased with his employees and that the feeling is mutual. “Everybody’s happy with the environment we’ve created,” he said. Kendall Printing provides “benefits that in this day and age are very hard to maintain.” There is very little turnover within the company, and Kendall hopes to keep it this way.
Kendall Printing’s profits have increased 5,000 percent since starting the operation 21 years ago. It is now a multi-million dollar business.
Kendall says they receive very few complaints from customers. “When that type of thing occurs, we take care of it immediately,” he said. Kendall said Hewlett-Packard, who used to do a large amount of business with them, would rate the company every year. Because Kendall Printing consistently came in above its standards in five categories, HP eventually raised its standards because Kendall Printing had proved they were surmountable.
Kendall Printing differs from many large-format printers in that it maintains small-format printing presses to accommodate smaller jobs. “Some printers who have grown as large as we have don’t keep the small accounts. But working three shifts, we’re able to deliver that product,” Kendall said. “We do everything from business cards to 400-page mailings.”
“My father truly deserves the Bravo Award,´ said Adam Kendall, the company’s vice president. “It was a priceless experience to watch my father take a risk and build his company through hard work and persistence.”