When Becky and Larry Raney were looking for the perfect spot to open a print and copy shop in 1992, they settled on a blue two-story house in the industrial outskirts of Bellingham.
It was an out-of-the-way location for a printing business, but over the next two decades the store thrived, expanding into an all-out marketing and branding center.
“We didn’t need to be downtown,” Becky Raney said. “Location doesn’t matter when you’re running around making deliveries.”
Print & Copy Factory, at 4055 Irongate Road, celebrates its 20th anniversary in March.
The Raneys have grown the company from a small producer of books, business cards, letterhead and customized forms into a multifaceted firm also providing an array of marketing and consultation services including brand-identity development, logo design and website creation.
Print & Copy designers have worked with a variety of local businesses and nonprofits. Recently, they’ve built websites for the Burned Children Recovery Foundation, the Ryan Stiles Celebrity Golf Tournament and the Ferndale Chamber of Commerce.
Larry Raney said a major element of their success was their strategy to cater to business owners in need of marketing know-how, particularly owners just getting on their feet.
“Our main mission was to take care of business start-ups,” he said. “We saw that if we could establish that relationship, there would be a lot of return business.”
Another component was figuring out how to meet the shifting needs of their customers.
Becky Raney said she would see people struggling to find unique marketing strategies for their businesses.
As a graphic designer, she didn’t like the idea of Print & Copy being relegated to producing stock-designed business cards and marketing materials. She wanted to create strong connections with clients and put more personality into products and services.
The shop also needed to stay relevant in an industry that faced substantial change from the internet and innovations in home computer software.
They began offering marketing seminars, building websites and offering a broader range of services. Gradually, Print & Copy turned its main focus from production to a more holistic sense of marketing.
“In the process of us doing that, we realized our business was changing, and we didn’t really change, we just sort of morphed into it,” Becky Raney said.
When the shop first opened, the Raneys lived in a small area on the second floor. However, after their first year in operation, it was clear they would have to move out to make room for the expanding company.
In 1997, they added a 6,000-square-foot section onto the original house to make space for offices, meeting rooms and a workshop.
Adapting to digital times
Today, although Print & Copy sits on a blue-collar block alongside auto repair garages and machine shops, it lives in a digital world.
Krystal Patterson Garcia, the store’s production manager, has been with the company since November 1999.
When she first joined the staff, she said they would sometimes get only one email a day. Now, they handle virtually all communication with clients through the electronic medium.
“The work has definitely moved way more toward the digital in the past decade,” Patterson Garcia said.
Phillip Folres, a graphic designer who’s worked at Print & Copy for about three and a half years, said with the design
industry’s high-tech shift, melding traditional techniques with new and innovative ones is easier than ever before.
“We still have the power of our minds to conceptualize, but with the computer it’s just grown by leaps and bounds,” he said.
Larry Raney said the staff has always seized the new opportunities technology breakthroughs made possible. They began building websites when the internet was still in its primal stage.
Keeping up with new products and tools has helped the store increase its output and expand its services, he said. Printing work that used to take an entire week on the press can now be done in a day.
Adapting to innovation in your industry is key to maintaining a successful company, Becky Raney said.
“You can’t resist technology,” she said. “It’s going to happen with you or without you.”
With a lifelong background in Whatcom County – a third-generation Maple Falls native and a graduate of Mount Baker High School – Becky Raney said she loves contributing to the well-being of local businesses and organizations.
In a nutshell, she said, Print & Copy is an expression of its staff members’ devotion to their community.
“I really, truly love business,” Becky Raney said. “I love the dynamics of entrepreneurs coming up with ideas and helping them see them through to fruition.”
Patterson Garcia said she enjoys working with clients and earning their trust, but one thing she really appreciates is the Raneys’ concern for their employees’ personal lives and professional growth.
Larry Raney said all staff members have a voice in the day-to-day operations and major projects Print & Copy takes on. Every morning at 8, they all get together and make sure everyone is on the same page, he said. However, Patterson Garcia said the Raneys are the glue that keeps everything together.
“They’re just good people, always concerned about our families, making sure things run smoothly,” she said. “I think Becky and Larry are the big difference.”
Print & Copy Factory’s 20th anniversary open house is 5-7 p.m. on Thursday, March 15, at 4055 Irongate Road, Bellingham.
The event will be catered by Avenue Bread and Carol’s Cake Design, with drinks from Willow Tree Vineyards and the O’Raney Beer Masters, and music by Sunset Music DJ. Door prize drawings will be held.