Though not long ago it faced being shut down, the Stinehour Press is thriving once again, under new owners who mix modern printing and design tools with a half-century-old tradition of Yankee craftsmanship.
"We have invested more in the technology of the company than we paid to buy the company," said Warren Bingham, Stinehour's CEO and a member of a group of private investors who came together to buy the company two years ago.
Located in Lunenburg, Vt., the Stinehour Press has for decades been the small company with the big reputation, producing high-end art books for libraries, museums, galleries and other customers. Founded by Roderick Stinehour in 1952, the company was recently honored by an exhibition at the Boston Public Library called "The Stinehour Press: The Work of the First Fifty Years."
But the press almost didn't make it to 50, Bingham said. In 1998, it was sold to Dublin-based holding company James Crean plc., which then spun off its printing and packaging business into the Oakhill Group. Bingham and his associates rescued the press when its new owners were looking to shutter the Lunenburg office. "We consider this company to be a national treasure, as well as a viable company that did not do well under corporate ownership," said Bingham. He knows a thing or two about corporate ownership, having held a number of top management positions at big companies including Torstar.
While many printers struggled last year, Stinehour Press was able to increase sales by 5%, Bingham said, and he added that Stinehour was on track to increase sales and profits again this year. The company has more than 30 employees, with a staff that mixes 20-year veterans of the company and recent "refugees" from metropolitan areas.
Unlike many of its competitors, Stinehour does not use computer-to-plate technology, preferring the quality possible with film-to-plate, Bingham said. At the same time, he said, the owners have spent generously on digital technology.
He insisted that in this era of consolidation, independence can be a big advantage because management can make quicker decisions and keep a closer eye on quality. "There are many businesses that do better under private ownership than they do under a corporate environment," Bingham said.