Business Beat: Winchester Print and Stationary

Image, above: The printing presses in action. Photo by Ron Rose

Normally, Business Beat covers businesses operating in Old Ottawa East. In this issue, we wander south on Highway 31 to the town of Winchester to bring you the people who print the Mainstreeter.

Winchester lies just outside Ottawa and has a small-town vibe. We spoke to Kent Raistrick, co-owner and Sales and Production Manager, about his printing company, Winchester Print and Stationery, and the process of printing the Mainstreeter.  

Image, left: Kent Raistrick in his office at Winchester Print and Stationery. Photo by Ron Rose

Winchester Print and Stationery is a privately owned company, consisting of Kent, his brother Kreg, and his parents, Brian and Heather. The Raistrick family has worked in the printing business since 1957, when Kent’s father, Brian, joined the local newspaper. Brian bought the printing division of the company in 1981 and Heather opened the stationery store in 1989. Kent and Kreg started working there in the mid-1990s. The company currently employs nine people.

It prints between 15 and 20 newspapers similar to the Mainstreeter, as well as flyers, books, signs and business cards. It also employs a full-time graphic designer to help clients achieve a professional look for their product.

Kent considers the company to be a medium-sized printer. He told us the total number of newspaper printers in Eastern Ontario has declined, mainly because of amalgamations.

“It’s now a pretty small group and we all know each other,” he said.

Kent had a mechanical bent from an early age, delighting in taking apart his toys to see how they worked. He said pressmen had to be mechanically minded, and able to disassemble and repair most of the machinery they operated. He placed a high value on proper maintenance.

“We replace when we see wear, not when a part fails,” he said. This reduces the plant’s downtime and adds to efficiency.

The heart of the printing operation is a bank of six large units bought in 1992. With regular maintenance, they should last another 15 to 20 years.

While the mechanics of printing remain relatively constant, the technology keeps changing. Kent is making sure Winchester Print and Stationery remains on the leading edge of technological development.

One of the main software programs used in printing is called Apogee X. It takes an electronic file, for example the one the Mainstreeter provides, and prepares it for use in printing.

Kent is one of only four users worldwide who provided input to Agfa, the company that created the software, for the Apogee product for web presses. He is a regular contributor to the Apogee international users’ forum.

Winchester Print and Stationery has printed the Mainstreeter for almost three years.

So, how does the Mainstreeter get from the editor’s desk to your neighbourhood distributers?

The editor signs off on the final draft and sends it to the company, where it is processed by the Apogee software. It is printed on aluminum plates and sent to the printing presses that print the papers, fold and count them into stacks of 50. The stacks are then bundled.

Even in today’s fast-paced and often impersonal business reality, the company owners strive to maintain a traditional face-to-face relationship with clients. Kent’s father, Brian, still looks after delivery of the Mainstreeter to Ottawa once printing is completed, driving the bundles from Winchester to the main post office on Industrial Avenue.

Papers to be delivered to apartment buildings are taken into Canada Post for mailing. Remaining papers are picked up by Cleta Kowalik, who delivers them to area captains for distribution.

And that explains the mystery behind the very paper you hold in your hands.

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