It may not sound romantic, but Ronald Schutt Sr. spent Valentine’s Day 2013 acquiring a company he had worked at for a quarter of a century.
“The stars aligned just right and I achieved my dream of owning my own business when my boss decided to sell,” the 52-year-old president and CEO of PrintRoc Inc. says. “It took me over five years to gain the financing that I needed to save the company, which was doing poorly for several years due to the economy.”
And save the company he did. In its first year under Schutt, PrintRoc had revenues of just under $600,000 and employed nine people. The commercial printer now has 14 full-timer staffers and a number of part-timers and annually posts $1.2 million in revenue.
“Our goal for the year 2020 is to increase sales to $2.5 to $3.5 million a year, with around 20 to 25 employees,” Schutt says.
PrintRoc is the former Pinnacle Printers Inc., founded in 1978 by Paul Usdane. Usdane retired to be more active in his synagogue but still serves as a part-time salesman for PrintRoc.
Schutt joined the firm in 1988 as a machine operator, following a stint at the now defunct Monroe Reprographics Inc. In 1994 Schutt was named production manager and he served in that capacity until purchasing the company.
The South Wedge printer offers offset, wide format and digital printing including corporate identity packages, signs and banners, mailings, brochures, books, magazines and package printing.
PrintRoc is geared toward small and midsized companies in Rochester and Buffalo, as well as customers in New Jersey, New Hampshire, Indiana, Pennsylvania and Mexico, Schutt says.
“The better they do, the better we will do,” he explains.
Schutt says the company sets itself apart through its integrity and high-quality product, and, since purchasing the company, he has made the product line more diverse than both smaller and larger shops in the region.
And, Schutt says, he has an equally diverse group of employees.
“It would probably make a great sitcom,” he jokes. “But let’s not go there.”
He says keeping employees happy and in the loop is a must.
PrintRoc believes in community and customer involvement. “No job is too big or too small to receive less than our best work,” Schutt says.
But as with other small businesses, Schutt sees his fair share of challenges. Competing against online services and the cost of insurance and taxes make him want to pull his hair out, he says, as well as watching business owners go out of their way to avoid using the local labor force.
Schutt says when he purchased the company he thought it would be easy to turn it around.
“I corrected all the errors the production manager side of my brain could fix. But there were so many multiple and competing demands for my time and thinking,” he recalls. “The first year saw more personal growth than business growth. Restructuring to meet today’s demands was a challenge that was almost not doable. But we did it.”
And despite a consolidation in the commercial printing industry over the last decade, Schutt says the printing business is alive and growing.
“It’s changing to meet the needs of 21st century customers,” he explains. “Print and packaging products supplement digital marketing efforts to achieve a balanced business exposure and presence in the world’s marketplace.”
As for the company, Schutt says in the next five years he plans to add a shift and operate 24 hours a day, five or six days a week to meet customers’ needs. And PrintRoc will seek to expand its bindery department with more efficient machinery as well as expand its in-house services.
Schutt would offer this advice to aspiring entrepreneurs: Do not underestimate how difficult the first year can be and always maintain your integrity.
“Customers will work with you when they trust you have their best interests at heart,” he says.
He also advises seeking support from other business professionals and says networking is crucial.
“If people see you doing your best work they want to help you and work with you to succeed,” he adds.
It is evident that Schutt loves his job.
“I love the challenge of crazy, impossible deadlines, making customers shine,” he says. “I love being in the position to make things happen. I love coming to work every morning and seeing employees’ cars in the parking lot and knowing that they depend on PrintRoc to provide for their own families.”
And he enjoys being involved in the community through the South Wedge Business Association and helping nonprofits like the Gay Alliance of Genesee Valley, the Jewish Community Center and others.
“I got into this to make a difference,” he says.
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