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CORPORATE SOCIAL RESPONSIBILITY and sustainable printing are more important now than ever, not just for our environment, but for your customers. We asked our Brain Squad members: What are you doing to improve in philanthropy, environment conservation, diversity and labor practices, and volunteerism?

1. Wade Neff
Strategic Factory, Owings Mills, Maryland

We show our commitment to social responsibility by reducing our global footprint and improving our environmental performance. We offer clients green options via the use of recyclable post-consumer paper from certified managed forests, and we operate environmentally friendly, full color DI Presses, which use soy-based inks and image digitally on recyclable plates instead of chemicals and heavy metals. We have a successful partnership with Trees for the Future, whereby we donate thousands of trees in support of our environmentally friendly printing. We even have a 100-kilowatt solar array on the roof of the building capturing the power of the sun. We are deeply engaged in the Baltimore community and heavily sponsor and support multiple groups and charities focused on causes as diverse as breast cancer awareness/treatment, Special Olympics, and the Baltimore Humane Society. We rely on the support of our team members to achieve this level of community engagement by lending their talents and time in support of these organizations and events.

A 100-kilowatt solar array sits on top of Strategic Factory’s building.

A 100-kilowatt solar array sits on top of Strategic Factory’s building.

2. David Kaiser
Digitype Design, Tualatin, Oregon

We started a foundation that raises funds and sends a team of individuals to Central America to assemble computer components and install them in schools that reach the poorest areas. Digitype Design produces a material substrate book that we give to customers. In it, we offer solutions that are recyclable alternatives to more traditional imaging solutions. Being a small business, we have very low turnover, and we currently employ three individuals all with different gender identities.

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3. Dan Plomin
Westamerica Communications, Irvine, California

We are continually looking at ways to reduce waste. It’s a part of ongoing business practices, but we have a facilities person who has a core objective to focus on reducing waste. We need more diversity and women in this industry. We do not see many college graduates coming into the fold that think this is a viable career path.

4. Cain Goettelman
FLS Banners, Sturgeon Bay, Wisconsin

Sustainability was installed in our DNA by the founders. We started water-based printing in the ’80s. We have been recycling our dye sub paper for almost a decade; the paper is then upcycled into a pellet used in wood-fired stoves. We actively support the local arts, youth mentorship, and youth apprenticeship programs.

5. Barbara Chandler Allen
Fresh Artists, Philadelphia

Barbara Chandler Allen

Barbara Chandler Allen

Fresh Artists personifies all of these things: Teaching all children we reach (nationally, tens of thousands) to be philanthropists. Our Chip Art project rescued 60 million obsolete paint color sample chips from landfills and repurposed them into a brilliant art-making material distributed free to any poor public school in America. Eighty nine percent of children we serve with free art materials and programming are low-income, Black, or Latino. Our paid ($12 per hour) summer intern each year is a minority high school student. We give PTO to our staff for their specific volunteer (non-Fresh Artists) passions and give volunteer opportunities to many corporate partners to help us with special art kit packing projects.

Fresh Artists

Fresh Artists offers free Chip Art Kits and lesson plans to schools throughout the country. The collection includes healthy food choices for children to interpret.

6. Stephanie Wise
Print Express, Torrington, Wyoming

Our company is big on repurposing materials. We run a lot of paper and have a substantial amount of waste. So, instead of filling up the local landfills, we repurpose the waste and make notepads/scratch pads for anyone. We also use the waste of canvas and donate that to the Senior Friendship Center so they can use it for their arts and crafts. They have a painting session once a month for the elderly.

7. Jake Soper
Evermore Prints, Boise, Idaho

In the beginning of COVID last year, we put out a blast offering free or at-cost printing of all COVID-19 related signage, menus, and banners. We wanted to help make sure local mom and pops could hang in there. To spread the word, we sent out email blasts, had the Downtown Boise Association share our message, and connected with local landlords. To our surprise, only two-to-three companies even took advantage of the offer. Maybe it felt too much like charity? Another thing we did early on during COVID was put up what we called “Artist Spotlights” on our social media and email. The purpose was to help funnel traffic to the websites of artists we work with in order to help them keep up art sales in spite of all local art events and shows being canceled.

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8. Brent Moncrief
Image Craft, Phoenix, Arizona

We have been committed to environmental responsibility for years, and most recently have implemented a significant solar panel system on our roof to take advantage of the copious solar energy here in the Valley of the Sun.

9. Pete Brunner
Full Sail Graphics & Marketing, Huntington Beach, California

I’m an active member in the Rotary Club of Huntington Beach, site coordinator for Family Promise of Orange County, and active in community volunteer projects through our church. We use HP latex printers. We minimize our use of paper in office communications. We recycle or reuse almost all of our raw materials packaging. Our hiring practices have included male and female employees of many different races and ethnicities. We hire based on skills and abilities, regardless of checkboxes.

10. Jim Dittmer
JDA Creative Color, Gresham, Oregon

We are a two-person, family-run company, so many of the topics don’t apply, but we do recycle everything we can. We contribute to local organizations and charities as our cash flow permits. As for diversity, that is not applicable at this point. We hope the future will allow us to take on employees from outside the family. We serve our community of artists and photographers without regard to their race, creed, religion, national origin, or sexual orientation.

11. Kevin Heber
Fastsigns, St. Charles, Bouette, Louisiana

We always go above and beyond for our customers. They are why we are in business. For the last 25 years, we have been active in our community, giving back to many organizations: schools, churches, little league teams, United Way and many, many others. Myself and my staff serve on various boards and actively volunteer in many civic and charitable organizations. As far as diversity in labor, we hire the best person for the job, period. That question kind of gets under my skin. What business owner wouldn’t hire the best candidate regardless of gender, ethnicity, race? I think the diversity in labor problem is just a talking point to divide our country.

12. Gary Schellerer
ER2 Image Group, Hanover Park, Illinois

It is important that we’re using printing technology that has sustainability in mind. With latex and UV inks, we offer some of the greenest printing technology offered by our industry.

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13. Outside the Lines

“As we moved into the early phases of kids being home from school [because of the pandemic], we launched a give back program to provide them something creative and inspirational to spend their time on,” says Tim Roe, co-owner of Outspoken Signs in Marietta, Georgia. The free program, Coloring Book Wall Art, created by Roe and his wife and co-owner, Shari, provided larger-than-life wall art coloring decals to 100-plus children over the course of three months.

Outspoken Signs used their HP Latex 330 printer onto LexJet Simple WallCal, an adhesive-backed media. The shop then die-cut an animal and the child’s name onto the giant sticker.
LexJet donated the Simple WallCal and Ken O’Leary, Surepath Financial Services, donated 100 boxes of crayons for the children to create their own masterpieces.

Outspoken-Signs-Coloring-Book

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