On March 28th I had the pleasure of talking with Ramey Danielson and Brandon Stauffer of DocuMart in Tualatin.
Laurie: Tell me a little about your business.
Ramey: DocuMart started as one of the first quick print shops in 1963. As the market has evolved we’ve opened more stores, and as we’ve had opportunity we’ve added more equipment. Today you have to evolve or die in the printing business. We started out with over 450 competitors in 1990 at the height of the quick print, and today there are less than 200. We’ve evolved into a commercial print shop as well as a quick print shop. We now have seven locations in the Portland metro area, and we opened in Tualatin in November of 2011.
Laurie: What is the most important thing you want people to know about your business?
Ramey: We’re a full service print shop. We do everything from black and white copies through large format printing. We’re the fourth largest printer in the Portland metro area and we do everything ourselves. We do not get on the internet and farm out your job, like I see most everyone doing nowadays. The advantage for us is that we have complete control. We look at your files and we make sure they’re right. Your product will be the same from order to reorder, and the quality will be higher.
Laurie: What makes your products or services unique?
Ramey: DocuMart is doing the work for you from start from finish. We’re taking the job in, we’re running it through our own pre-press department, we are running it on our own printing presses, and we’re delivering it in our own trucks. From start to finish it’s ours.
Laurie: What is your turnaround time?
Ramey: It definitely depends on the project. A black and white copy I’ll give you now. If you need 10,000 large pocket folders it can be up to 10 days.
Brandon: Printing jobs like letterhead or business card orders will take at most about 4 days. We have a full graphics department so we can work with designs that aren’t completely ready.
Ramey: If you can give us an idea of what you want, we can clean it up. We are not an ad agency so we are not going to come up with ten different ideas for you, but if you say, I want a picture here and I want these words here and I want this here and I want it to fit in this space, we’ll do that for you.
Laurie: What would you say were some of the early successes and challenges in the business?
Ramey: Everyone has a printer. I always say if the lights are on you’ve got a printer. That’s just a fact. We need to educate people that we can do it faster, better and cheaper. It takes time for people to switch. So that’s the challenge, to have them try us. Most people stay with us if they’ve tried us. We’re very happy that a lot of people have decided to use us now that we’re closer and have a presence in the community.
Brandon: The environmental impact that printing companies had ten years ago is gone. Water usage for developing plates and film has gone down substantially. There are certain chemicals that aren’t used anymore. It’s all very environmentally friendly now.
Ramey: With the advent of the Macintosh computer in 1982 this industry started to change. The Macintosh was a graphics computer. From the day that came out with the 300 dot laser printer, printing started to become more and more digital. As the laser printer got better, the print quality got better.
Laurie: What opportunities do you see for your business in the next year or so?
Ramey: This year we’re going to do nothing but grow and add more people. As more and more people see that we control what we do, they’re going to try us. Not everybody has a print project available all the time, so you have to build up a base of repeat customers. Even the ones that order once a year are great customers.
DocuMart is going to be one of the few print shops that make it in the long term because we do everything from copies clear through the top end and all in-house. We can adjust to the climate changes. If we were a two-color mom and pop place today we wouldn’t make it. You have to have lots of cash because even these little high end color copiers cost a ton of money. They do pay for themselves but you have to develop the market to start with.
Brandon: People like our environment. They can walk up to the counter and talk to a helpful salesperson that can get what they need done. I’ve walked into print shops where there are presses but you can’t find any help. A big advantage for our customers is that we will go to them with proofs, to pick up files, to have something approved, or if they have questions.
Ramey: Most of our bigger customers never leave their desk because we will bring all the proofs to them. The initial checking for everything will go to their computer, but then we’ll bring them a hard copy to sign, because we’re printing here in town. I’m not doing it in California.
Laurie: How do you see your business evolving over the next ten years?
Ramey: If it changes as much as it’s changed in the last ten years we don’t have a clue. The post office could close. The whole world could change. If the post office closed there would be no more direct mail. Then people would go door to door with flyers. The market would be filled but would be different. You have to get your advertising to the consumer somehow.
Laurie: On a more personal note, what are your hobbies?
Ramey: I’ve been a competitive ballroom dancer for 15 years. It’s a nice social outlet and once you’re in the community you know hundreds of people to dance with and you have something to do on the weekend. I always tell people it’s the cheapest date in town.
Brandon: I am a photographer and an artist. I had a show last year in a gallery over in Alberta. I’m doing a technique now called Through the Viewfinder which is where a photograph is shot with one camera through the viewfinder of a second camera and it gives me a vignette. I’ve got an art degree in photography and another in graphic design.
Laurie: Is there anything else you want to say before we finish up?
Ramey: We love Tualatin! it’s a small town and you can get around. People know each other. There’s not the hustle and bustle and we’re not trying to be the big city, there are just people trying to do their jobs.
Brandon: We have several customers who work in Portland but they do their printing here because they live in Tualatin and they can park for free and come in. They consider being able to do that a great service.