More Than a Printer: Big Red Printing, Norfolk, Nebraska

Big Red Printing has been providing quality printing services for businesses and organizations since January 1985.

Run by president and owner Gene Walter, along with his partners Caleb Priebe and Joanna Sena, Big Red Printing is making an impact in Norfolk and Columbus, Nebraska.

Gene says Big Red Printing’s start in the printing business happened in a way that most people don’t expect.

“The origin of the company was to print for a guy that had a nationwide Apple software club for schools. He called his business “The Big Red Apple Club,” hence, Big Red Printing. However, living in Nebraska, almost everybody thinks Big Red Printing is because of Nebraska athletics.”

Today, Big Red Printing offers digital and offset printing services, focusing on working with businesses and organizations and offering a wide range of printing services, including mailers, forms, postcards, and newsletters.

Like most businesses, Big Red Printing faced challenges during the COVID-19 pandemic. However, the company was down only 3% in 2020, thanks to its marketing efforts, customer base, and staff. In 2021, the company bounced back and saw a 32% increase in its revenue, surpassing its pre-pandemic levels.

Here are just a few things they attribute to their continuing success.

Direct Mail Marketing

Gene and the team at Big Red Printing believe that direct mail marketing isn’t just something to print for print buyers. Instead, it’s a marketing tactic worth investing in because it effectively grows their own print business as well.

“You’re probably familiar with the Printer’s Press newsletter [from Marketing Ideas For Printers]. We’ve been mailing it for at least 15 years,” says Gene. “We send it out to a good portion of our customer base and then also send a marketing postcard of some sort to a broader base where we’re trying to target both customers and potential customers.”

Big Red Printing focuses on the heart of Nebraska: sports to add even more increased value to their direct mail.

“We also add a printed sports schedule to our direct mail pieces,” explains Gene. “The thought behind that is everybody in Nebraska cares about the Huskers. We try to capitalize on that by including some of our services on a sports schedule in our mailing. It’s kind of a race to get it out because the first schedule you get is the one you save. And it works. People will start asking for them before we’ve even had a chance to print them.”

Direct mail, plus appealing to customers’ loyalty and love for the Huskers, equals a winning marketing strategy for Big Red Printing.

A Three-Pronged Legacy

Big Red Printing builds its legacy on three pillars: glorifying God through its work, treating its staff well, fostering a fun and positive work environment, and offering excellent customer service. The company takes pride in maintaining face-to-face communication with its customers while prioritizing timely service and quality.

Gene explains, “Our legacy is three-pronged. First, we want to glorify God in what we do, in our work, how we treat our people, how we treat our customers, and by doing an excellent job. Secondly, our staff is very important. We like to work hard, play hard, and have fun as a staff. To me, that’s a real legacy I want once I retire, that those taking over will continue doing that. Lastly, our customers drive our business, and we take great care of them. We pride ourselves on being as timely as possible without sacrificing quality because people still want things quickly. The combination of those three things helps us be a successful business.”

Left to right: Joanna Sena (Partner), Gene Walter (Owner), Caleb Priebe (Partner)

Embrace Your Inner Salesperson

Being engaged with customers and embracing a relational sales mindset is a top priority at Big Red Printing.

“It’s easy to want to hire a salesman, but every owner needs to be a salesman. They need to get out from behind their desk and not just hope that orders come in the door, but do something about it,” says Gene. “Ask yourself, ‘What other businesses are we already serving that might be able to do common things that we’re already doing for other customers?’ Then, call on them. Start by introducing yourself, asking if they have any issues that need solving, and offer a conversation and an open door.”

Gene continues, “Relationships are so critical to not just have a customer be a number or a sales figure. So, one of our strategies is getting to know someone. Ask about their kids or accomplishments- things you can turn around and ask questions about in the future. As you develop a relationship, you’ll find it fun to get out and see people.”

Parting Words of Wisdom

In closing, Gene offers the following wisdom for capturing a more-than-a-print mindset.

“It’s a bad thing to just depend on yourself. I feel our affiliation with our bookkeeper, CPA, and financial advisor all act like a Board of Directors, and you need ideas. Also, as an owner, you’re limiting yourself if you don’t draw ideas out of your employees. Surround yourself with a team of good smart people. It’s pretty lonely to be an owner without people to bounce things off of and learn from, and it’s really critical. You’ve heard the old saying, ‘He who aims at nothing will surely hit it.’ If you’re just going day to day and don’t have a plan or hoping that the next big customer’s going to walk in the door, it’s probably not going to happen.”


This article originally appeared in the April 2023 issue of NPSOA magazine. For more information on how you can become an NPSOA member and enjoy the many benefits offered there, contact Member Services at or head to their website at