4th Generation Family-Owned Commercial Printer
Striving for “World Class Service” is the #1 goal of the family-owned commercial print company, San Dieguito Printers (SDP), says Chris Baker. Chris is SDP’s marketing manager. He is conducting a tour of the 34,000 sq. ft. facility.
The printing plant is one of the largest privately held commercial print companies within the state of California. It is located just off the 78 corridor, at 1818 Diamond St., in San Marcos. SDP is owned by the Lapham family.
The Lapham family has four generations of printing and publishing experience. Which means if you have a printing need, they should definitely by on your short list of printers to consult.
The family held organization’s core values are critical to the long success of the company, Chris explains during our tour. He stresses the importance of working with a business that has: strong integrity, an excellent reputation, trusted relationships, high-quality products, and cost-effective pricing.
The tightly knit 45-member crew is also essential to the company’s success, Chris shares. Since commercial printers operate on extremely low profit margins, a high-quality team can make all the difference by maximizing efficiencies.
A good crew also aids in ensuring minimal errors and waste. Reprinting can mean no profit, or even a revenue loss; making detail-oriented and accurate crew members esteemed.
Chris has worked for the family for 7-years. He holds a Criminal Justice degree from San Diego State University. While attending the university, Chris worked with with SDSU’s marketing director.
The Press-Enterprise (PE) in Riverside hired him after college to train their employees to use Mac computers. He eventually managed their prepress department, and commercial print division.
San Dieguito Printers (SDP) traces its’ origins to 1937, and the San Dieguito Citizen newspaper in Del Mar. Noel P. Lapham was the 3rd buyer, purchasing the paper $10 in 1939.
With a 15-years career as a journalism and print instructor at La Jolla High School, Noel would seem to have been a near perfect buyer. Presumably, he and his wife Grace, were unaware that they were about to launch a print dynasty spanning four generations.
Adding commercial print was a natural, as presses had a lot of downtime. Buying a press only to print a newspaper would have been considered an incredible luxury, according to Chris Baker. Print jobs helped increase revenue by filling press time.
Donald Lapham and his wife Mary, joined the business in 1948; moving the operation to Solana Beach in 1957. In 1971, Richard Lapham the family print business, leading the operation from hot type to linotype, and then offset in 1975. In 1979, the family sold the San Dieguito Citizen newspaper to Howard Publications, who combined it with The Blade-Tribune in Oceanside.
In 1988, Chris Lapham became the 4th generation to work in commercial print. He eventually helped transform the operation, which added: 22 additional printing units, a 2nd folder for the open web press, and two heat-set presses; and expanded the prepress area.
Today, San Dieguito Printers is a full-service commercial printing plant using both cold-set (open web) and heat-set presses. They are one of only two San Diego County commercial printers to utilize heat-set presses; they own two, the other printer owns one.
A single heat-set press at the San Marcos printing plant, if purchased today, would cost up to $6 million. SDP’s two heat-set presses can mean better pricing, if they result in greater efficiencies. They also may permit larger quantities. SDP also uniquely provides one of the more difficult cut-offs and popular sizes, a true 8-1/2 x 11.
The cold-set presses print products which require the ink to dry on the page, such as a local newspaper, or products utilizing newsprint. Heat-set presses are used to produce: magazines, directories, catalogs, brochures, newsletters, glossy single sheets and newspaper inserts.
Heat-set printing uses an oven or dryer to produce the high-end finish. UV protective coatings are also available to ensure maximum color retention over an extended period of time.
Environmentally friendly, SDP uses vegetable based inks. Waste paper is shredded onsite. All waste paper, plates, and inks are recycled.
Their tax contributions help support the community of San Marcos. Their affiliation with: community, county and state organizations, associations, licensee operations, and their relationships with vendors, distributors, delivery systems, and recyclers, contribute to the economic health and welfare of many.
Many of SDP’s customers come from southern Californian including the counties of: San Diego, Orange, Los Angeles, Riverside, and San Bernadino. They also service clients throughout the state of California however, as well as from Arizona and Nevada. Since Mexico is so close, they print a wide range of Hispanic publications as well.
The annual Oceanside Chamber of Commerce membership directory is printed by SDP, who is also a chamber member. The directory sports a UV cover for color retention, as it is a local business reference book that is distributed throughout the year.
Government offices such as: water districts and cities; school systems including local districts and universities; magazine and newspaper publishers; event organizers, and agencies, have enjoyed SDP’s printing expertise. Their client list includes blue-collar, owner operators, and corporate executives. Chris Baker reports that the ability to work directly with clients is one of the best parts of his job.
Each commercial printer has their niche. There are many considerations. When needed, Chris said he refers both existing and potential client elsewhere, in order to ensure desired results. The company also offers wrap-around print service, including customized solutions based on the specific needs of a client.
Based on budget, Chris will explain choices for: paper, weight, brightness, color, size, cut-off, folding, binding, proofing, and delivery options. In competitive situations, publication size is a key. During the tour, he also demonstrates how a larger publication might completely cover a smaller product, leaving it unseen and unread. That was an eye-opener.
Change over the past 5-years has involved continuous investments in automated and integrated software, to aid in increasing efficiencies. Further digital changes, as well as social media, are areas of focus in the near future, says Chris.
As they have always done though, Chris says the printing organization which is made up of the SDP team and Lapham family will meet change by: being flexible, welcoming new opportunities, continuing to adapt, investing in the company, focusing on quality and efficiency.
In short, just as they have since 1939, they will continue to do everything possible to meet the needs of their customers; and strive to ensure their clients receive “World Class Service.” If you have a need for printing services, their attitude, expertise, and willingness to refer mean you’ll want to give them a call.
San Dieguito Printers, SDP
1880 Diamond St.
San Marcos, CA 92078