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Published: Monday, 8/23/2004

Printing company makes its mark

BY HOMER BRICKEY
BLADE SENIOR BUSINESS WRITER
Mary Feasel, left, production manager for Roman/Peshoff, and John Wenberg, press operator at Muir Graphics, Inc., look over advertising materials done for Roman/Peshoff. Mary Feasel, left, production manager for Roman/Peshoff, and John Wenberg, press operator at Muir Graphics, Inc., look over advertising materials done for Roman/Peshoff.
SIMMONS / BLADE Enlarge

The companies that survive aren t always the biggest in their industries. They don t necessarily have the fanciest addresses or headquarters facilities, either. Nor does their client list always include the Fortune 500.

Proof of that is Muir Graphics Inc., a 29-year-old commercial-printing firm in Sylvania that has survived and thrived through several recessions and has outlived several of its much-bigger competitors that went out of business in the last several years.

Muir outgrew two former locations and now has 16 employees in a 10,000-square-foot building in Sylvania just off Alexis Road, and its owners, Karen Garner and Linda Reiter, are forecasting revenue of about $3 million in sales this year.

The main thing is we give our customers total reliability, said Ms. Garner, president. Our customers are very loyal to us.

One, Mary Feasel, was at Muir s printing plant one recent day to inspect some advertising pieces being produced for Roman/Peshoff Inc., a downtown Toledo marketing agency, where she is production manager.

We use quite a few printers in town, said Ms. Feasel. They re not the biggest printer, but they have their niche, which they re very good at. They have excellent service. They re there when we need them.

Ms. Garner said the printing firm has about 300 customers, with wide-ranging needs. Muir prints program guides and marketing mailers for Buckeye CableSystem; menus and franchise-merchandising pieces for Marco s Pizza, and the monthly edition of the Village Voice of Ottawa Hills, a community newspaper.

Muir Graphics was founded in 1975 by a brother-and-sister team, David Muir and Gerry Garner (later Gerry Gronemeier), in a garage in South Toledo in 1975, with a single, small printing press.

Within a year, the fledgling firm outgrew that location and expanded to a 400-square-foot office on Reynolds Road near Southwyck Shopping Center, recalled Ms. Garner, who started working for her mother 25 years ago while still a teenager, helping to deliver printed materials.

Muir moved to its current location in 1980 and later expanded. Mr. Muir left the firm in 1983, and six years ago Mrs. Gronemeier retired and turned her company over to her daughters.

Ms. Garner said her firm has picked up some customers who once did business with several large printers that folded in the last two years.

We weathered the storm because we didn t have all our eggs in one basket, said Tim Reiter, Linda s husband, who handles sales for Muir. Mr. Reiter added that Muir has invested significantly in technology but has always been cautious to make sure they ve got all the bugs out.

Too many printing firms invested in the latest technology, before it was proven, and depended too much on business from very large companies that proved vulnerable in the latest economic downturn, he said.

Ms. Reiter, vice president, pointed out that Muir got involved in computer imaging in the 1980s, before many printing firms made that plunge. And she said Muir is now investing in technology that will take graphics directly from computer to printing plate.

The sisters are proud of the fact that their business is not only family-owned but also female-owned.

Ms. Reiter said it s way too soon to tell if she can look forward to seeing Muir become a third-generation business: Her sons are just 1 and 4.

Small Business Profile is a weekly feature on local companies. To be considered, send information about your company to Small Business Profiles, Business News, The Blade, P.O. Box 921, Toledo, Ohio 43697-0921.

Contact Homer Brickey athomerbrickey@theblade.comor 419-724-6129.



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