Jakprints Urges Cleveland to
“Think Globally. Print Locally.”
When you walk into Jakprint’s offices and printing complex in Cleveland’s Mid-Town Corridor, the first thing you notice is something you can’t detect. It simply doesn’t smell like a print shop.
“That’s because we work with soy and vegetable-based inks in our offset printing process, so there is no smell,” said Dameon Guess, one of the co-founders of this unique and very progressive printing company. “From our very inception we have been dedicated to being ‘green.’ It’s a huge component of what our company is all about. We’re even testing how printing with water-based t-shirt inks can reduce our dependency on petroleum resources. Currently all of our six house stocked papers have at least a 30 percent recycled content.”
Sustainability, recyclability and environmental initiatives are at the core of Jakprints’ unique forward thinking culture. In addition to using inks that have a minimal impact on the environment, Jakprints also uses bio-washes and biodegradable cleaning chemicals throughout it’s entire operation.
“We also have very active internal recycling programs, not only reducing and re-using our waste, but also using our scraps in unique and creative ways,” Guess added. “We’re working on shredding our setup and test print shirts to turn them into dog beds or pillows that we will then donate to animal shelters or the APL.” While Jakprints has been in front of the environmental curve, it’s taking its dedication to green causes to a whole new level, urging its customers to “Think Globally. Print Locally.” It’s a new initiative aimed at all companies in the Cleveland Plus region to make them more aware of the environment. The initiative starts with an incentive called “Get some green by printing green.” As a part of the program Jakprints has partnered with a local business called Gateway Recycling on the campaign.
“If a customer brings us at least five pounds of clean recyclable paper, we will give them ten percent off their pick up orders for the rest of this year,” said Guess. “We want people to know that there is value in their old newspapers, direct mail, junk mail or office paper. All of those things can be brought to us, and in exchange for a 10% discount on new print jobs such as catalogs, envelopes, stickers or t-shirts, or anything else we offer. We’re hoping this new program will help raise the environmental consciousness of our community.”
Being dedicated to environmental causes is just one of the ways Jakprints distinguishes itself from its competition. Formed ten years ago out of a need to coordinate and fulfill printing projects that would be otherwise sent to multiple vendors co-founders Dameon Guess and Jacob Edwards created a company that was unique from its very beginning. “We saw a need in the marketplace,” said Guess. “People were going one place for t-shirts, another place for stickers, and another place for posters. We thought if we could bring those needs together with the highest quality printing we would really have something that was unique not just to Ohio but to the entire country.” The company started out on Lake Shore Boulevard in Euclid, before moving to Willoughby where it got its first automatic apparel press.
“We added a few more employees and spent a couple of years there,” Guess recalled. “Then we moved to Lake Avenue right near Edgewater. The idea was to set up shop with other like minded companies, a graphic design business, a photographer, and a framing business with Jakprints being the facilitator of all of the printing.”
After about four years, the company out grew the space and moved to its present location on Chester Avenue in Cleveland’s Mid-Town Corridor, where it has more than 112,000 square-feet of totally renovated office space and state-of-the-art printing equipment under its wing. Jakprints now employs more than 130 employees and provides six distinctive printing capabilities that include: high-end silkscreen printing; offset printing; stickers and labels; professional embroidery; wide format printing of banners and signs; and variable data digital printing. “So we have six different basic services, but we offer a lot of other add on services as well,” Guess noted.
These include services outside of printing such as fulfillment, direct mail, drop shipping and warehousing. “We even do things like make deliveries to retail locations, as well as offer services like poly-bagging, tagging and labeling which help our clients deliver their orders directly to retail establishments,” Guess added.
But the company is a printer first and foremost, Guess asserted. “As a mission statement, we have always said that we do not want to be in competition with the creative community,” he said. “The creative community is a big part of our customer base. As a printer, if we were to offer graphic design services, we feel as though it would be a conflict of interest.”
The company has a wide customer base that spans from major ad agencies, in-house corporate graphic design departments of Fortune 500 companies to local and national artists and musicians.
“We’ll work with clients who publish a monthly magazine, to someone who just got Photoshop for Christmas and is designing the first sticker for their band,” said Guess. In it’s ten years, Jakprints has built an impressive list of national and local clients. Indeed, much of its business today comes from outside the Cleveland Plus region. “But we are very much vested here, we’re not going anywhere,” said Guess. “Being a part of Mid-Town is very important to us. A lot of our local customers happen to be in the Mid-Town area. But we’re also very much dedicated to the whole Cleveland Plus region. We want to play an important role in seeing people become more successful here.” And Guess and his partner Edwards put their money where their mouth is. With a strong national client base, they could have moved anywhere in the country, but chose instead to stay right here in the Cleveland Plus region.
“It was a conscious decision to stay in the city and support the tax structure of Cleveland,” said Guess. “We are all proud to call Cleveland home.” It was also a strategic move, Guess conceded, with the Cleveland Plus region being geographically positioned to service major markets in the Eastern half of the United States. But Guess is also personally vested in the Cleveland Plus region as well.
“In terms of the quality of life, the Cleveland Plus region has a lot to offer,” he said. “I have always lived in Ohio so I have a sense of family and community here. I remember going downtown as a kid and sitting on Santa’s lap at the old Higbees building. Then seeing the city go through a rotation, where it was down but is now coming back. I love the nature, the diversi
ty of people, as well as the arts and theater Northeast Ohio offers.
“In terms of our company, we love employing the people here. They are amazing.” Which brings us to another important aspect of the culture at Jakprints. You’ll find no titles on business cards. It’s no mistake. It’s done on purpose.
“It gives everyone the feeling that they are on the same level,” said Guess. “It’s worked out very well for us. You give a person a title, and they will often feel like they are locked into the boundaries of that position. They may think there are people above them, rather than along side them. People without boundaries tend to do things on their own and are generally more empowered to grow. Some of our best employees who started off in say the shipping department have moved on to become some of our best sales reps and managers. We like to see that kind of growth potential across the board.” It’s exactly that kind of progressive attitude that has created Jakprints’ growth. And it’s exactly the kind of attitude that will keep the Cleveland Plus region growing as well.