When Keith Dreier’s sign company was bought out four years ago, the entrepreneur scoured the east coast of Florida for the right opportunity to return to the business world.
After a lot of searching, he came upon St. Johns Printing and Cartridge World in downtown St. Augustine. It has turned out to be a great fit for the 60-year-old Dreier, and he hopes the business continues to be a fit for the city.
St. Johns Printing is celebrating its 36th anniversary this year. Dreier said he was lucky to find such a vibrant business in 2011 despite the country’s economic downturn.
“All the businesses that were available were really too late (to save them),” Dreier said.
However, the business that St. Johns Printing founder John Roundtree was offering seemed different to Dreier.
“Mr Roundtree was really just looking to retire,” Dreier said. “The business still had a heartbeat, and it had a wonderful story.”
By the time Dreier had decided to take over St. Johns Printing, he was living in Ocean Hammock in Flagler County. The charm of St. Augustine appealed to him as much as the business did.
“I realized it still had a lot romance left,” Dreier said.
Fully embracing the allure of St. Augustine, St. Johns Printing has developed a partnership with the city as the printer for the 450th celebration. It worked with the city last year, printing banners for the Gentlemen of the Road Stopover concert tour that featured Mumford & Sons.
And the location of the business on King Street added to the draw. Being in the heart of downtown and having a great history in the business community were great assets.
“It was really a go-to place for local businesses,” Dreier said. “We’re sort of a generational business.”
St. Johns Printing was started in 1978 as a basic copy shop on San Marco Avenue before moving to King Street three years later.
With the move, the company was able to expand its services. In 2007, it added the Cartridge World franchise, which offered inkjet and toner cartridge refilling.
With a shift away from traditional printing by many companies, St. Johns Printing has continued to move into the digital world while still maintaining its status as a boutique printer.
“We cater to everyone,” Dreier said.
To diversify, the company has expanded its graphic design department and soon will add website design to its offerings. There also is more emphasis in the arts, renting space to an art supplies shop and an art gallery.
“You’re always looking for the next good mousetrap to stay competitive without having to reinvent the wheel,” Dreier said. “We’re still growing incrementally and keep reinforcing our commercial base.”
With the balance of adding modern technology while still providing for printing needs similar to the ones it serviced three decades ago, Dreier hopes St. Johns Printing is poised for future success.
“You can’t start a business like this today, but Mr. Roundtree built a really nice business,” Dreier said. “We run like a little engine. It’s great.”