Del Story: Printer named Del's Small Business Person of the Year

By Mellany Armstrong 8:01am, May 9, 2013 - Updated 9:31am, May 9, 2013
A 4th generation printer is making quite an impression.

WDEL's Mellany Armstrong has more in this week's WDEL Delaware Stories.

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Mercantile Printing Company in Wilmington is the oldest family-owned commercial printing establishment in Delaware.

"My great uncle Harry started it as a hobby in 1871, and by 1884 had established the Mercantile Printing Company," said Coleman Bye III.

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Bye has led the company since 2001. He's been named the SBA Delaware Small Business Person of the Year.

"How do you feel about that?" "Humbled, honored," Bye said.

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The company specializes in product labeling, direct mail and packaging, and he says multi-layer labeling is growing.

"If you look at some of these, the Robitussins or what have you, there's no more outer box anymore, there's no more directions for use, there's a label that says 'peel here,' and you peel back and you expose additional copy," he said.

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Challenges to his business include email, social media, and cost of mailing, as well as finding qualified workers.

"Because the industry is shrinking, we're not finding young people in particular that want to learn this trade, and there's still a manufacturing aspect," he said.

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The Small Business Administration of Delaware helped him re-focus his business strategy.

"We identified package printing, including the market segments we were already in, and variable-dated digital printing," he said.

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Bye will be honored May 21st as part of National Small Business Week.

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