History 101

By Dawn Lospaluto
In February 24, 2015

Three-day weekends are great, but one thing that gets lost when holidays are shifted from their actual date to a specific Monday is a clear remembrance of an event itself. Nowhere is that more apparent than on Presidents Day.

In an effort to combine Abraham Lincoln’s Feb. 12 birthday and George Washington’s Feb. 22 birthday―once both celebrated with cherry pies, stories of log cabins, honesty, courage amidst crisis, and two bank and post office closings―into a day off on the third Monday of February, Presidents Day was created.

To further homogenize our history, it was proclaimed as a day to celebrate not only these two giants of our nation’s history, but all our Presidents. And so we pause amidst Presidents Day auto and appliance ads and commercials to honor men such as Thomas Jefferson, James Monroe, and Theodore Roosevelt, along with such luminaries as Millard Fillmore, James Buchanan, and Warren G. Harding.

Sometimes, or at least in this case, the crunched-together whole appears to be a little less than the sum of its often remarkable and sometimes regrettable parts. The loss of individuals and their contributions to our history is lamentable, but it is not uncommon. All too often, in our relentless desire to move forward and our pursuit of the new, many of us forget about where we came from and the part the past played in creating the present.

We see that omission in many of our industry’s companies, too, particularly in the “about us” sections of their websites. Most say something about what they are today, but many say nothing about what brought them to where they are.

What about your company’s history?  Does your website tell the story of how your company was created? Does it give the visitor any personal insights into how your business came to be what it is now?

In today’s world of social media, the line between business and personal is increasingly blurred, and populating company information with the personalities of its participants has greater valued. Detailing your company’s history is the perfect way to add life and personality to your company information.

Is your company a second, third, or fourth-generation business? Who was the entrepreneur who started it all? What did the founders look like? How did other family members become involved? How has the company grown―not just in terms of square feet or equipment, but in the people who are part of it?

kimMany companies have added life and personality to their websites just by recounting their history, even briefly. The website of Aurora Fastprint, Aurora, Ill. (www.aurorafastprint.com/companyinfo/), includes a wonderful photo of Owner Kim Granholm and her Dad, company founder Tom Bartlett, taken in the shop in 1982, when Kim was a child. It speaks volumes about the depth of her connection with her business.

The Print House in Malden, Mass. (www.printhouse.com/about/history/), recounts how its founders, two A.B. Dick salesmen, joined to create their business. Johnson & Quin, Inc., of Niles, Ill. (www.j-quin.com/history), details a more than 135-year history, beginning with its founding in 1876.. Lawrence Ink in Atlanta, Ga.(http://lawrenceink.com/aboutus), features a photo of the grandparents who founded the family business in 1936..

st croixThe Allen Press of Lawrence, Kan. (http://allenpress.com/company/history), founded in 1935, offers a detailed history, spanning the years with wonderful old photos such as a bank of linotype machines in the late 1960s. And St. Croix Printing, of New Richmond, Wis., (http://stcroixpress.com/about/)shows founder Ed Monette and his son, Mike, both clearly wearing their pride in their business and in each other in their smiles.

In every case, the history in words and/or pictures helps the company come alive for the visitor, emphasizes its unique identity, and enables it to stand out from its competition. Whether you want to let folks know how you created your company last year or how your great-great-grandfather put down your pioneer roots a century ago, be sure to tell your story. It is yours and yours alone, and you should spotlight it proudly!

Dawn Lospaluto

Epicomm Senior Director of Communications, Dawn has been the editor of Epicomm 's "Bottom Line" magazine and its predecessor publications, "NAPL Business Review," Printing Manager," and "The Journal of Graphic Communications Management," for 20 years. She also writes and edits several Epicomm member print and electronic newsletters, including [Re]View, Management Bulletin, Highlights, and Discover; press releases; and various marketing materials; and oversees Epicomm 's book publishing program. Dawn previously served as corporate managing editor for Allied (now Honeywell) Corporation and as a reporter and editor for New Jersey's largest evening newspaper. She is a graduate of Douglass College (Rutgers University) and holds an M.A. degree from Fairleigh Dickinson University, where she has served on the adjunct faculty.

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