DWS Printing: After more than 150 years, the New York converter has remained successful by staying on the forefront of new technologies.

Author:Hrinya, Greg

DWS Printing Associates

89 N Industry Court, Deer Park, NY, USA 11729

www.dwsprinting.com

There aren't many companies--printing or otherwise--that boast the same kind of rich history as DWS Printing. The NY-based converter traces its origins back to the Civil War, but there is nothing old-school about DWS' printing operations.

Tom Staib, president and owner, and Andy Staib, owner, currently preside over this fifth-generation label provider. The company has been in business tor more than 150 years, and the Staib family has it poised to thrive well into the future.

DWS, originally named David Weil's Sons Lithographic Co., originated in 1865, when Weil established a printing company for his sons following the war. Charles Staib, great-grandfather of Tom and Andy, joined the company in 1888 and soon became principal managing partner. Arthur, Charles' son, joined his father, where they ran David Weil's Sons until Allen and his brother Arthur, Tom and Andy's father and uncle, entered the fold in the late 1950s.

A compilation book, which was a 1980 Christmas gift from Arthur to Allen, adorns the modern-day DWS conference room. It features a wide range of labels, some that date back to the late 1800s. "The printing back then really blew my mind because a lot of it was done with engraved litho stones," explains Tom. "The company did a lot of textile labels back then. You can see the illustration and detail on these litho stones, so it fascinates me to no end that the company was able to produce these labels with this kind of quality."

Fast forward to 1987, when Tom graduated from Villanova with a finance degree. He had spent summers working with his father at DWS, occupying several roles that included packing labels in the back of the shop. While many of his friends were pursuing jobs on Wall Street, Tom had printing in his blood.

"For me, there was always a place for DWS," says Tom. "Even as I was going through school at Villanova, I was thinking about how I could take some of that information and knowledge and apply it to the company."

Tom always set his sights on the next great technology, and his foresight came into play immediately. After joining his father and uncle at DWS, Tom convinced the third generation of Staibs to invest in a fax machine. "In 1987, I'll never forget my uncle saying, 'What's a fax machine?' I said, 'We have to get one, because that's how people are sending us orders now."' That $400 Brother fax machine set the stage for DWS' future. The company acquired some prominent customers along the way, but industry consolidation shifted the landscape in the late 1990s. The Staibs knew how to make their customers happy, but they would have to adapt to see the company successfully into the fourth generation.

"We're a small shop but smaller back then," says...

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