Forty years and counting
Susan Johnson marks 40 years in the printing business and 30 years as owner of Printing Impressions.
It was the summer of 1977 when Susan Kaster (now Johnson) started her first day of work at Keith’s Printing. What began as a part-time summer job for 16-year-old Susan turned into a lifetime career. This year, Susan celebrated two milestone work anniversaries. She has worked in the same building for 40 years and has owned the business now known as Printing Impressions for 30 years.
A few things have changed over the years, Susan said, but the customers’ needs have remained the same.
“The customers have stayed the same,” she said. “They come back and want the same types of things printed, but instead of wanting them in black and white, most everything is now in color.”
Through the years
When she began working for Keith Tennal at Keith’s Printing, Susan learned all aspects of printing of that time. Gradually, the digital era crept in, causing a dynamic shift in the printing industry. With the digital era, everything moved from being done by hand to by computer, which made jobs easier to design and quicker to complete.
“We used to set type by hand, which is not done any more,” she said.
After it was set, it was put on a machine and developed in the dark room with chemicals. Then, it was cut and pasted on an original document. After that process, it was put on the camera and a negative was made and stripped up. Then, a plate was made and developed before it went to press.
Susan remembers preparing negatives of the newspaper pages every Monday or Tuesday. Now, the newspaper is sent electronically to an off-site print shop in Missouri.
She recalls preparing business forms before she had a computer.
“I had a ruler and a pen and I would hand draw the lines for the forms,” she said.
If a customer wanted changes to the form, it was not a simple change on the computer — it had to be redrawn.
“I basically would have to start over and redraw everything,” she said.
When she did get a computer and printer, jobs became easier. The first printer she purchased for printing out an original required a small loan to pay for it. The original still then needed to go through the negative and plate-making process.
Short run digital jobs started with the purchase of a black and white copier. These jobs have grown each year since to where the offset presses do not run every day any more. She now owns two black and white copiers.
Record keeping also has changed. No longer are there handwritten receipts and records— everything is computerized.
Serving Sabetha and beyond
At Printing Impressions, Susan offers a variety of printing, copy, lamination and design services including business forms, NCR forms, computer forms, letterheads, envelopes, business cards, newsletters, brochures, posters, rubber stamps, labels, napkins, wedding announcements, invitations, typesetting and design and layout.
“Sue is amazing! She is a talented woman who can do any project you need done,” Vicki Edelman said. “We are very blessed to have her in our small community. From designing to paper to envelopes, I can’t see why anyone would need to buy out of town or online. She can handle any printed job needed.”
Susan handles many printing needs for businesses in the community. Those projects are often grander in scale and are what keeps the business running, but she doesn’t turn down the small projects.
“When you live in small-town USA, you have to be creative and print a lot of different things,” Susan said.
Susan receives requests every day to print invitations for birthdays, weddings and baby showers, children’s Valentines Day cards, calendars, Christmas cards and letters and graduation announcements, and many other print projects. She loves talking with the customers who come in with special projects for her to print.
“It’s fun to see what they are doing and how it all comes together,” she said.
One of the best parts of the job for Susan is designing.
“I enjoy when I get to design for the customer,” Susan said. “If they can tell me what they are thinking and I can get an idea in my head and then put it on paper — that is fun.”
Susan may have a schedule in mind for the day, but she still must answer the demands of walk-in customers.
“What I plan for the day doesn’t always happen until later,” she said. “Customers usually want it now, but that’s not always possible.”
Printing Impressions customers are not limited to Sabetha. Susan completes printing jobs for many area communities and even has out of state customers.
Susan has been working for 40 years and has no plans of retiring yet. She hopes Printing Impressions will continue to serve the printing needs of Sabetha and the surrounding areas for many more years to come.
Susan and her husband Jim Johnson have been married for almost 36 years. They have two children, Becky Burks and B.J. Johnson. Becky and her husband Dralinn live in Manhattan and have two daughters — Brynnon, 4; and Thea, 8 months. B.J. and wife Lyssia (Pyle) live in Bern and have three children — Brooklyn, 4; Kayla, 3; and Lincoln, 4 months.
When she has spare time, Susan enjoys riding her bike, going camping and playing with her grandkids. If she has time beyond that, she sometimes does arts and crafts projects and helps her daughter Becky make earrings and hair bows, which also are available for sale at Printing Impressions.
Printing Impressions is located at 1026 Main Street in Sabetha. For more information, contact Susan at 785-284-2306 or email at email@example.com.
Krista Wasinger71 Posts
Krista Wasinger is Co-Editor of The Sabetha Herald, where she has been on staff since 2011. She specializes in city reporting and feature stories, as well as photography and page and advertising design. Krista is a 2004 Fort Hays State University graduate with a degree in communications studies with an emphasis in journalism. She lives in Sabetha with her husband and four children.