Article Covers Our Move

Shapco Printing executives (from left): Don Johnson, Joe Avery and Joel Shapiro
Photo by David Sherman Photography


“Shapco Printing Gets a New Lease on Life with Capex Infusion, New Location”

By Erik Cagle, Senior Editor, Printing Impressions,

When the biggest deal in his professional career—the sale of his company to a competitor—fell apart on the day of the transaction’s closing last fall, Joel Shapiro could not have been happier.

Shapiro’s company, Minneapolis-based Shapco Printing, was to be sold to another Minnesota printing powerhouse, which had made a generous offer for the producer of high-end art gallery books, direct mail, fulfillment and wide-format goods. After 30-plus years in the industry, perhaps it was time Shapiro tried his hand at something different.

Shapiro had been steadfast during the entire transaction process, warning the buyer that if he changed the offer “even by a dollar,” the deal would be off. Still, on the day of closing, the buyer wanted to renegotiate the final price. Shapiro didn’t blink. Instead, he walked away.

His emotional reaction to the soured deal was most telling. “I felt elation, a euphoria that came over my body,” recalls Shapiro. “Obviously, I did not have it in my heart to sell the business. When it fell apart, I felt terrific. I was excited and re-energized.”

Instead of golfing or touring the world, Shapiro redoubled his efforts. In a six-month span, he sold the company’s home of 35 years and relocated to Golden Valley, MN, and poured $3 million into new equipment, highlighted by a pair of HP Indigo color digital presses: an Indigo 7600 and an Indigo 10000. The renewed enthusiasm is palpable throughout the firm, which posted $33 million in sales last year and is on the fast track to becoming a $40 million annual performer.

Truth be known, it seems that Shapiro has developed something of a transformative touch, from the type of printing that his Shapco Printing offers to the once-drab Minneapolis neighborhood it, until recently, called home.

Breaking Out from the Pack

Let’s turn back the clock for a moment. The year is 1988, and Shapco is grinding it out, producing one- and two-color sheetfed work, some process color, and posting about $3 million in sales. The company was doing OK financially, but something didn’t seem right. The equipment wasn’t anywhere near top of the line, and that began to eat away at Shapiro, because the results didn’t rise to his level of expectations.

“We had leveled out (sales-wise) and become a second-tier printer,” Shapiro notes. “In 1988, I decided to change the direction of the company and become a first-rate, top-shelf, primo-quality operation.”

It wasn’t long before Shapco Printing knocked it out of the park in regards to quality—more on that in a moment—and there’s an interesting correlation with the old Minneapolis neighborhood that runs parallel with Shapco’s transformation from down-and-dirty job printer to high-end, quality-critical artisan shop. Major League Baseball’s Minnesota Twins moved into their new park, Target Field, which is located diagonally across the street from Shapco’s old building. As a result, all light and heavy transit rail emanated from Shapiro’s front door. The neighborhood, once the “armpit of Minneapolis,” is now prime, expensive and highly desirable.

The 53,000-square-foot property was sold to developer United Properties for an undisclosed sum and the building will be demolished next month. In its place will be a $59 million headquarters constructed for national bone marrow donation nonprofit entity “Be the Match.”

As for Shapco Printing, its new space is a much-roomier, 123,000-square-foot home in Golden Valley with plenty of parking spaces (employees formerly parked blocks away). The layout is much improved and access to the facility is much easier for clients, compared to the congested city. Plus, with Shapco experiencing 20 percent growth during the past four years, the need for more production space was clear.

Even with the move, Shapco retains a 15,000-square-foot paper storage warehouse and a 32,000-square-foot property that houses Point B, the pick-and-pack fulfillment operation owned and operated by Joe Avery, who is also vice president of Shapco Printing.

“The new space gives us more efficiencies in the workflow of our production process, as well as shipping and receiving,” notes Don Johnson, vice president of business development for Shapco. “We formerly had one dock and now have six at the new building. We’re also SOC compliant for data security purposes. It has allowed us to put further security enhancements in the building, whether it’s cameras on the doors or key FOB entries to secure areas.”

Aside from producing art books for its gallery, institute and museum clientele across the country, Shapco Printing serves the educational, financial, retail, restaurant and health care sectors with a range of products. Direct mail is a big part of Shapco’s business; the airline industry is a key customer when it comes to variable data digital jobs.

The craft of printing, including color management and retouching, is very much embraced at Shapco, which has won numerous industry awards for its work, including a PIA “Benny” award in 2013 from Printing Industry Midwest for promotional printing. While few eyes can discern the differences between an excellent print and a flawless one, those very eyes belong to the aforementioned gallery, institute and museum clients.

“The reason we’re so successful is that we look at printing as a craft rather than just
manufacturing,” Avery remarks. “We still look at every single piece of paper, every nuance of color, whether a hookup is perfect, whether a diecut is perfect—all the things that craftspeople do. I think that’s why clients come to us from coast to coast.

“There are probably only a handful of printers across the country that are still doing craftsman-type work. That’s what (customers) recognize, the true designers, whether it’s the art book community or high-end agencies across the country…they still look for printers of that nature.”

Shapiro says his company was late getting into the digital printing game simply because he didn’t feel the quality was commensurate with the quality standard needs of his clients. Nearly nine years ago, he added an HP Indigo 5000, which made a believer of him.

During the recent capex drive, he upgraded to the 7600, which has the bigger sheet (13×19˝) and offers white ink, in-line embossing, raised ink and, last but not least, speeds twice as fast as the 5000. The 29˝-format 10000 is an experiment of sorts, according to Shapiro, as it is replacing a half-size press. Among the other newer acquisitions is a 40˝ Brausse diecutter with internal and external stripping.

Expanding into Wide-Format Output

Wide-format digital printing was added two years ago with the acquisition of two six-color, 60˝ HP DesignJet I26500 roll-to-roll latex printers. Restaurant signage and banners are among the items churned out by the latex printers. Shapiro then picked up a six-color, 96˝ HP UV flatbed industrial printer, which can handle substrates up to 2˝ thick.

Komori dominates the conventional and UV offset printing needs of Shapco with six sheetfed presses. With the multitude of new equipment and plans on adding new gear in the short term, the idea is to have all the necessities in the tool belt.

“We’re always pushing the envelope with how we can be better, how we can better service our customers,” Johnson remarks. “We’re giving our staff the right tools to do their jobs.”

The future is bright at Shapco Printing, and both the leadership team and employee base are rejuvenated. A new home, tons of new gear, a debt-free ledger and a new outlook on the printing world has Shapco aggressively moving forward, backed by an attention to quality that can only be appreciated by other perfection obsessors.

“We need to show why we’re different, and I instill that into everyone here,” Shapiro says. “Don’t just fold the paper, fold it so it’s perfect. No marking, no scuffing, no scratching. It’s not just happenstance that jobs turn out right. Our customers expect a lot from us and we deliver. We maintain a high level of expectations that come from the top down.”

HP Indigo 10000 Digital Press

You needed us to increase our digital press capabilities, so we asked Hewlett Packard to build an Indigo for us that would be ready soon after our move to the new building. That time has come and we are proud to announce that our Indigo 10000 is now partnering our Indigo 7600.

The 29-inch format HP Indigo 10000 Digital Press produces any commercial job with Indigo quality, substrate versatility, and production flexibility. This robust press is an easy fit for all your small to medium print runs utilizing a wide variety of applications.

> Print any commercial job
> High productivity
> Widest substrate range
> Offset-matching print quality
> Streamline production process
> Customize and personalized each piece

Extraordinary is Ordinary

Occasionally, our clients ask us to help them achieve some nearly impossible tasks. One of our clients recently shared with us just how much our dedication meant to him.


Dear Joel,

This is just a quick note to acknowledge and thank you for the absolutely life-saving effort that Ann Dugan’s team put into helping us with our emergency print job this past week. We were faced with an absolutely horrible situation and needed to get three projects done within 36 hours. Ann and Bill demonstrated not only their own dedication and determination on our behalf to get this done, but they also made it profoundly evident that Shapco has the technology, knowledge, resources, and customer-commitment to do what would literally be impossible for most vendors.

Ever since I met Ann a couple years ago when she was only a few months on the job, I could see right away what a pro she is and I’m really glad to hear that she has grown to be one of the essential members of the Shapco Sales team. She deserves high praise on every account. Likewise, Bill has shown himself to be an effective partner throughout our entire history with Shapco. I know there were other individuals that I can’t name who stayed late (into the early morning) in prepress and fulfillment to get this all done.

I’m sure that at some level the executive management gets involved in “green-lighting” efforts like this which involved putting other customers’ projects on hold, so I want to thank you personally for allowing this to happen. I’ll work to ensure that we don’t put you in a similar position again.

Thanks & Best Regards,



At Shapco, making the impossible something possible is what we do. The things we do everyday are considered ordinary, yet to our customers they appear extraordinary. Challenge us with your needs, no matter how complex or how fast you need results, and we will continue to strive for complete success.

Vendor of Excellence



Shapco was honored by Sally Smith, President and CEO of Buffalo Wild Wings with 2012 Vendor of Excellence Award at recent BWW National Convention in Orlando, FL. This award was given out for Shapco’s commitment to BWW brand and partnership for the past year.

Large Format

Shapco has recently added 2 large digital format printers: HP Designjet L26500. This new high quality technology addresses 61” capabilities. Great for outdoor and indoor applications: POP Displays, soft signage, bus shelters, vehicle graphics, Light Boxes, Wall Coverings, and Outdoor and Event banners. The printer prints in 6 colors: black, yellow, cyan, light cyan, magenta, and light magenta – this provides richer color for your printed pieces. The inks are water based HP Latex based Inks – no special ventilation required, eco-friendly, and recyclable. Print on paper, vinyl, fabrics, film, and low-cost uncoated options. We can die cut, sew, grommet, and fulfill your large format wants and needs. Shapco is your one-stop shop for all your print and graphic solutions. How can we help?

Data Security Compliance

Shapco Printing is now SSAE No. 16, SOC I compliant – simply stated, we have increased controls and procedures in place per data security; SOC (service organization controls), formally known as SAS 70. These added controls address Processing Integrity, Confidentiality, Availability, and Security. Clifton Larson Allen, a nationally recognized consulting firm, is providing consulting, auditing, and compliance per control objectives.

Shapco wants to ensure that when you print, mail, on-line order, or fulfill simple and complex projects, that measures are in place securing your business. Does your present vendor have SOC compliance, and controls in place protecting your print assets? Please contact your Shapco Account Rep for further information.

Peters Billiards

Shapco Printing is delighted to have been selected to produce all of the New Branding for Peters Billiards, located at Lyndale Avenue & 62 Crosstown. Some subtle changes have brought a new and very much enhanced look to their Letterhead, Envelopes and Invoices, as well as to their Business Cards. Locally owned and operated for more than 50 Years, with the best Service, Selection & overall as nice a group of people we’ve ever had the pleasure to print for.

Jan at Peters Billiards told us, “I finally finished unpacking all of our new printed products. They look beautiful! Thank you and your talented team for creating these for us. We are so pleased!”

So if you’re in the market for Casual Furniture or anything Game-related “Shop Peters Billiards”!

Service. Service. Service.

How many times have you gone to a store or restaurant and received poor service? I had a conversation recently with one of my clients who had difficulty reaching a contractor for a bid on a very large project. Calls to the contractor were unanswered except for a recorded message saying “I’ll be out of the office on a golf outing; please call back tomorrow.” Wow. I guess the contractor’s golf outing is more important than your business! And why didn’t they leave a back-up contact while they were out?

I can think of one corporation in this country that prides itself on great service: Disney World. From the moment you walk into this amusement park it is clean, and the staff go out of their way to make you happy. Shapco knows the importance of good customer service and we make sure our clients always receive our best. You’ll never hear that your sales representative is out golfing and unavailable for your call. All of our sales representatives have smart phones so they are available to you 24/7. Not only that, we have top-notch customer service representatives inside the shop at all times. Joel Shapiro, the owner of the company, is also available to meet or talk with any client.

Besides great customer service, here are 10 solid reasons to buy from Shapco Printing:

  1. Digital, Conventional or UV Printing.
  2. Complete data/mailing services.
  3. Professional proofreading on staff.
  4. Solutions-oriented service.
  5. Central US location for efficient delivery to all areas of the country.
  6. Tremendous capacity for faster turn times! We also have the most UV presses of any commercial printer in Minnesota.
  7. Environmentally-sensitive Green printer.
  8. Conveniently located off Light-Rail and Northstar commuter rail systems in downtown Minneapolis.
  9. Nationally recognized for award-winning projects.
  10. Available 24/7.

The Best of Minnesota

Fireworks and mosquitoes. Fishing and tornados. Long days and tropical humidity. Summer in Minnesota, right? We are all used to taking the good with the bad, suffering through our long cold winters makes you appreciate a warm summer day even more. But when it comes to your printing you should not have to settle for less than the best. Do you love your printer’s prepress department but the press operators can’t hold the color? Maybe the printing is excellent but they always mess up the shipping? Not at Shapco. Here you get the best of everything. The most advanced prepress operators with the best training. Press operators with years upon years of experience running the most advanced printing presses made today. And a turnkey shipping and warehousing operation that is reliable and thorough. Our customers come to us for many reasons but the most common reason is something their previous printer didn’t have: solid quality and service from the beginning of their project to the end. There are no holes here at Shapco for your project to fall through. And on some summer nights here in Downtown Minneapolis, you can even see fireworks over the horizon. Surely another successful project going out the shipping doors…

Experience Counts

2543 years. 105 sales and production staff. 1 company. That’s an average of 24 years of experience per employee here at Shapco. OK, so printing and cutting an 8.5 x 11 flyer wouldn’t really take that much experience. We do that with our eyes closed. Just kidding, Joel! (He’s the boss.) Seriously, most of the work we do requires experience. We’ve been “there” and most likely “done that” on whatever you throw at us. And most of the time, your work is literally thrown at us because you need it quickly.

Experience tells us to do your project a certain way. Experience allows us to remain calm under pressure. Experience gives us déjà vu. “Hey, I’ve seen this type of project before. We’d better suggest UV inks for this, or a box score for that.” Put it this way, if the project is in our hands, you’ll sleep very well at night.

It’s funny, well, not to us, but most of our equipment here is younger than we are. In each department, we have every bell and whistle you can think of. With our experience and fancy tools, we can move your project through here swiftly, with true craftsmanship, and of course – with a smile. Come on over and we’ll show you around. Yes, although we’ve been around a while, we can still walk just fine.