When Anthony Skalicky was eight years old, he was sweeping the floor and running messages for his father’s print shop in Manhattan. By the age of 10, he was running the machines.
That tradition continued when Skalicky’s own son, also named Anthony, or “Tony,” was 10.
The industry has changed tremendously since Paul Skalicky, now deceased, first began his own business in 1945, and the family company, Remco Press Inc., has since moved across the river to West New York.
“The company’s still going to be here; it’s just going to be doing more for our customers.” – Tony Skalicky
The ‘one-stop print shop’
Remco, which moved to West New York in 2007, once employed several people prior to the downturn in the economy, but is now run solely by Anthony and Tony Skalicky.
Each day, the Skalickys go to work in their shop located in an old textile factory on 52nd Street, creating everything from business cards to point of purchase displays for their customers – and everything in between.
“We’ve always been a complete shop,” said Anthony Skalicky.
Their customers include high-profile art galleries, technology companies, and even some government and political entities.
But one thing you won’t find at Remco is a marketing plan or sales team. Much of their customer base was established long ago, and has been maintained and grown strictly through word of mouth and referrals.
Both father and son attribute that to the quality of service they offer, adding it’s not just about keeping customers, but about keeping them happy – a standard that is hard to find in an industry now dominated by the Internet.
“We spend a lot of time with the jobs we do,” said Tony Skalicky. “Customers have the opportunity to deal directly with the bosses, not just employees. I think that matters.”
Surviving the economy and a changing industry
When Anthony Skalicky was working with his father, Paul, decades ago, Remco maintained between 400 to 600 customers.
Most of those customers went out of business after 9/11; however, Remco is now not only surviving, but thriving, with approximately 150 customers.
So how do they do it?
The first step, they said, was moving out of Manhattan when their rent jumped from $9,000 to $47,000 a month.
“Once we came out here, all of a sudden we have a different quality of life,” said Anthony Skalicky, who now leisurely strolls into work at 10 a.m. “This is living.”
His son, Tony, now rides his bike to work from his home in Jersey City.
On top of lower rent, they also share space with another printing company, American Menus, and have eliminated many outsourcing costs by using technology to bring those features in-house.
For supplies they work with other small and family-owned businesses, which increases camaraderie and allows for a closer control of costs.
Although many of their sister industries, including typesetting and photo retouching, are long gone, the Skalickys aren’t concerned about the print industry itself going out of business, and they are determined to keep evolving in an ever-changing business.
“The company’s still going to be here,” said Tony Skalicky. “It’s just going to be doing more for our customers.”
Sticking through the generations
While much has changed since Paul Skalicky began his career in print by melting lead for a linotype machine, some things have remained the same, like the love of family and good business.
Both Anthony and Tony admitted they had been on paths to other careers when the family business drew them in and won them over completely.
Anthony Skalicky had been in college for only a couple of years when he found himself desiring to go back to work with his father.
“I had everything I wanted here,” he said.
Years later, Tony found himself in a similar situation. After earning a degree in literature and working for an ad agency, he decided to take his experience back to Remco.
“I think we make a great team,” said Tony Skalicky.
The elder Skalicky, known even to customers now as “Dad,” remembers a time when he would spend eight hours a day on the phone while his father ran the machines.
Now he’s running the machines while his son takes care of the front end of the business, a job that may one day belong to the next Skalicky in line – Tony and his wife are expecting a son of their own in just a few months.
Lana Rose Diaz can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.