Russ: Hi, I’m Russ Capper and this is BusinessMakers USA, brought to you by Insperity, inspiring business performance. Coming to you today from Charlotte, North Carolina, and I’m pleased to have as my guest, Luther Dudley, the President of Arzberger Stationers. Luther, welcome to the show.
Luther: Thanks, Russ. Thanks for having me today.
Russ: You bet. Tell us about Arzberger Stationers.
Luther: Arzberger Stationers is a specialty printing company. We have about 27 employees and we employ some specialty printing processes primarily in the stationary business. We don’t print a lot of full color brochure work, advertising, flyers, that sort of thing. We’re pretty much in the stationary business, and by that, I mean primarily wedding invitations, social invitations, personal stationary, and commercial stationary for businesses. Unlike most printers, we utilize the processes of engraving, letter press, foil stamping, die cutting. These are things that most big printers, or traditional printers, are no longer interested in doing. We found a niche in doing that and that’s where we focus and spend most of our time.
Russ: Wow, that’s very interesting. I take it that’s your passion, too? To step in that direction in this era is unique.
Luther: It is. I think that everyone that works at Arzberger is thrilled to be making something. We’re all craftsman over there and we really enjoy finishing the day and seeing a tangible product that we’ve produced. There’s a very important craft and art element to what we do and that’s the way we approach our business.
Russ: Real interesting. So, does that mean that you do not do anything with any of these new digital devices and digital printers?
Luther: Virtually not. We’re adding a couple of little digital technologies for accent pieces. For example, to digitally print a liner that might go into an envelope for a wedding invitation, things like that. We’re not in the digital printing business and it’s interesting that you ask that question because I’m often asked, ‘Wow, this era of electronic communication and email must really just be killing your business.’ Actually, the reverse is true. In this era of electronic communication, our product really stands out. There’s been a bunch written lately in media about personal thank you notes and the use of a tangible product. A beautiful business card, or a kind note, or a note of sympathy when someone has had trouble has perhaps more power now than it ever has because fewer and fewer people are doing it and our product is kind of at the top of the food chain and people are gravitating towards it.
Russ: How old is the company?
Luther: I purchased the company in 1996, but the company has operated continuously since 1922, so we’re coming up on 100 years of continuous ownership of Arzberger. Arzberger consists of three companies, really; Arzberger; a company in Raleigh, North Carolina called Parker Engraving; and another specialty printer here in Charlotte called W.A. Buening.
Russ: When you talk about that you actually acquired three companies, I mean, but they’re all now working in one facility?
Luther: That’s correct. Two of those companies were based in Charlotte originally and the other one was in Raleigh, North Carolina. Over the years we’ve consolidated all of the production operations in this one location in Charlotte.
Russ: Tell us about a recent favorite project that you’ve done in the past year or so.
Luther: I can tell you about a type of product that we do that has become fascinating and so much different than it was, and that would be the wedding business. Traditionally, a wedding invitation, an engraved wedding invitation would be perhaps black or grey ink on a piece of ecru cardstock, very simple, elegant. As with wedding receptions, wedding invitations have become much more elaborate, much more involved, many more pieces, much more desire for these pieces to be unique, often themed, and so our wedding business has transformed pretty dramatically over the last 10 years. Our interest is in producing a wedding invitation that they will pull out 30 years from now and look at it and say, wow, we did that correctly. We did that right. It looks as good now as it did in 2018 when we did it.
Russ: Ok, fascinating business. Do you see another acquisition, perhaps, in your future?
Luther: You never know. There are times where I wonder if I’ve got another lap in me, so to speak, but at 63 I still feel good and excited every day to go to work. If the right opportunity came along we certainly would look at it, but nothing on the horizon right now.
Russ: Luther, I really appreciate you telling us your story about this fascinating business.
Luther: Russ, it’s been great. Thank you for having me today.
Russ: You bet. And that wraps up my discussion with Luther Dudley, the President of Arzberger Stationers. And this is BusinessMakers USA.
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