by Bill Batson
The signs of our times are printed at Harrington Press. The stocks of their trade are posters detailing rules of social distancing (6 feet apart; Wear a mask), banners honoring the names of heroes on the frontline of fighting COVID-19, and placards held at demonstrations proclaiming that Black Lives Matter. Even in this digital age, people who need to reach the local masses with a message continue to flock to this neighborhood print shop.
With the dulcet tones of Grateful Dead rising up through the air and their always-going machines buzzing, the Nyack Sketch Log hung out with the brothers Harrington to learn how they keep the presses rolling.
Who founded Harrington Press?
Our dad, Rich Harrington Sr. opened his first storefront in 1979 across the street where Blissful Massage is located. The current storefront came many years later in 1996 on the corner of Washington and Main St.
What is your earliest memory of the business?
Back when it was DanRick Graphics and dad was printing out of the basement at our house on Tallman Place (in Nyack). The smell of ink and fountain solution emanated from the top of the stairs that went to the basement. Dad always told us not to go down there because the ink monsters would get us. His way of keeping his 5 and 3 year old sons away from the press.
How different was the business then?
Everything was much more of a process. For example, in order go to press, you had to shoot the original to a film, develop the negative, align the film to a masking sheet, look for dust and specks on the negatives and use opaquing solution to block them out, then burn the negative to a metal plate, develop the plate and condition it… Then you were ready to mount the plate onto the press, just hoping that everything was perfect so you wouldn’t have to go back through the entire process again. Phew!
Now we are 100% digital and all of those processes have gone by the way of horse and buggy.
What is the division of labor?
We are what we call a “3 man band.” Our colleague of 23 years, Chris Klika, takes care of everything from production to finishing to shipping, and he’s also most likely the first person you’ll speak to when you call the shop.
Rick handles sales/development, scheduling, quotes, and accounts receivable. Dan also handles production, is our in house graphic designer and handles the back end of the business.
Is it true that Blondie (your dog receptionist) is the boss?
According to most customers, Blondie is the overseer of all things Harrington Press.
Who introduced who to the Grateful Dead?
Oh geez! I guess you could say Dan’s first show was back in the late ’80s and he spread the word from there. All three of us are Dead-Heads. Collectively we saw the Dead (with Garcia) over 150 times.
What are some of the challenges in being the second generation team?
The biggest challenge is continuing the legacy of staying relevant in the ever-changing times we live in. So many changes in technology. We also have to compete against online printers, but our edge is the touch and feel of a one-on-one personal experience.
We consult and provide solution. Someone will come in and say “I’m running for council” or “I’m running for school board,” and we show them all the options for a campaign–yard signs, posters, and mailings. We have done this a lot times before and know what works.
What are some of the challenges of business during COVID?
The first challenge was figuring out how to get back up and running. The second was how to stay safe amongst ourselves while working together. And now the third is keeping up with the ever-changing demands of our customers who are preparing to re-open.
Who are your customers?
Our customer base is so varied. We service all customers large and small. Fortune 500 companies, like Dow Jones; the largest mall company in the United States, Simon; our local colleges, banks, and other institutions; the everyday walk-ins who need 50 color copies. We believe we need all to be relevant.
What’s the best part of running a family business?
Having the freedom to come and go without answering to some corporate head. We have young families, and being able to attend all of our kids’ events is a top priority.
What’s next for Harrington Press?
We’ve been working with our web designer on an online ordering system, which we hope to implement over the course of this summer, opening up the possibilities to order some of our most popular products 24/7.
We’re also always looking to add more product offerings based on our customers demands.
If you are a business trying to re-open safely, a candidate for public office, or a non-profit trying to raise money and public awareness, Harrington Press has tools that can help. Address: 207 Main St, harringtonpress.net, (845) 353-1832. They are currently carrying a full range of posters that promote social distancing and mask wearing.
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Bill Batson is an activist, artist and writer who lives and sketches in Nyack, NY. Nyack Sketch Log: “Harrington Press” © 2020 Bill Batson. To see more, visit billbatsonarts.com