BerkShares Business of the Month: Kwik Print Inc.More Info
Multigenerational family businesses make up the fabric of the Berkshires and Kwik Print Inc. is no exception. Cheryl and John Raifstanger Jr. launched their family print shop in 1973 in the basement of the Mahaiwe Theater with a second-hand press and scrappy entrepreneurial spirit. Now under the direction of their son John III, the business continues to flourish and serve the Southern Berkshire community in a new technological era.
Cheryl and John Jr. were first introduced to the printing industry through the popular Southern Berkshire publication called the Shopper’s Guide, owned by John Jr.’s parents, Eunice and John Raifstanger Sr. Cheryl and John Jr. saw a business opportunity when the Berkshire Courier, the entity that printed the Shopper’s Guide, no longer wished to service small print jobs.
Recognizing that the community still needed its town newsletters, menus and holiday cards printed, they went off on their own. Like many entrepreneurs, John Jr. and Cheryl learned through trial and error and worked around the clock: Cheryl would set the type at night and John Jr. would run the press during the day. With their business booming, in 1979 they moved into a storefront a block over to Bridge Street, which is where it remains today.
In 2015, after 42 years, Cheryl and John Jr. passed the family business to their son John Raifstanger III. Cheryl says that it never quite feels like she and John Jr. left since she still helps coordinate annual appeal mailings and gala invitations for the organizations where she volunteers her time, but she sees the changes the business has undergone with her son John’s new leadership. Cheryl credits him with bringing the business into the 21st century — averaging two new machines a year, the business is constantly replacing obsolete technology and increasing its capacity in order to remain efficient and reliable.
Kwik Print’s business operations remain informed by the needs of the local community. Over the years, they’ve added new and unique services for customers and local businesses like wide-format printing that produces large posters for regional nonprofits, and blueprints for local architects and contractors. It’s that personal touch that distinguishes them from competitors like Staples; and, as their name states, they are quick.
As you wait at the counter to pick up a print job, you might find yourself gazing at the framed set of BerkShares on the wall or at another customer paying for copies of a concert flyer with BerkShares. Trish Mead, Kwik Print’s graphic designer, says that BerkShares always start a conversation in the shop. One of the original businesses to sign on, Kwik Print has taken in many BerkShares over the years and goes so far as to state its acceptance policy on invoices. As to how they use and recirculate those BerkShares, there aren’t any local manufacturers of paper, toner or ink, and they are forced to purchase their materials elsewhere.
But as a leader in the community and the matriarch of a family business, Cheryl sees the importance of keeping money local. That understanding has been passed down generations — now even the grandchildren “have come to expect and are excited to use BerkShares” around town and understand where their money goes. It’s that kind of commitment to the local economy that keeps a business going for 45 years and many more to come.