In a world full of clichés, many speak to the importance of doing what you love. But, it’s increasingly rare to find a genuine example of someone loving what they do and pouring their whole heart into doing it.
When I met with Tom Lancaster of Litho Press, it was quickly and abundantly clear that Tom hits the ground running every morning, looking to see who he can bless in the world of printing. It’s incredible, and it can be an inspiration for all of us.
Litho Press (located in San Antonio, Texas) was founded in 1962 by Raymond Thomas. It began as a provider of printing services to the Government Printing Office (GPO) nationally. Over the years, it became one of the largest GPO providers in the country. Today, the company still fulfills printing services to government entities but has expanded to serve the commercial sector, which accounts for more than 90% of its business activity.
Litho Press has a unique ownership structure as well. After Raymond Thomas passed away, he bequeathed the company to a local university. Trinity University later sold it to Thomas F. Murray, who has been the owner for many years. When others have long since retired, Tom Murray remains an active participant in his company, working alongside his family and the company’s employee-owners; daily displaying a passion and enthusiasm for all that it does.
Tom Lancaster, Director of Business Development, joined Litho Press after a sales career at Konica Minolta Corporation. Murray approached him to oversee the company’s business development, hoping to grow their business base beyond San Antonio and Texas. Lancaster joined just before the COVID-19 pandemic hit and has since developed new customers throughout the United States and Canada.
“It’s been fun developing something,” says Tom. “Not being able to engage my prospects and customers face-to-face was a challenge at first; however, I was able to tell our story both virtually and by phone. Simply connecting with people, telling them who we are, what we do, and what we can do for them enabled me to gain significant traction during the COVID period. This insight continues to motivate me to be more involved in what my customers are doing and to better understand how I can help them by providing new, creative solutions. As a printer, we need to be continually tuned in to our customers’ needs and communicate how we can help them meet their demands.”
I often like to ask printers what their legacy is or what they want their legacy to be in the print industry. While that question might stump some, it’s still an important one to ask.
“When you’re in the printing business, you have the opportunity to create something tangible that will outlive you,” says Tom. “I have a collection of samples in my office that represent the projects I’ve worked on over the years. Each project has a story, and it’s a story that will be told for years to come.”
Tom continues, “Here’s an example. One of the things that I’ve done since I’ve been with Litho Press is to look for recurring, repeatable opportunities. I’m now printing monthly, quarterly, semi-annual, and annual magazines, which total quite a bit. When you’re a part of something like building a book or printing a book, that is a lasting legacy. You have something physical that’s going to out outlive you. What’s more, you’re providing a value and a service to your customers that will be their legacy as well.”
Litho Press has been in business for 60 years, and they know that to stay relevant, they have to stay fresh. They’re always looking for new solutions and new approaches to old problems. It’s why they recently upgraded and overhauled their website and e-commerce platform and became more involved in social media.
How do they find the time to stay relevant? They build strategic partnerships.
“One of the things that sets our company apart is our ability to provide a turnkey solution for our customers,” says Tom. “We don’t try to do everything in-house. Instead, we build strategic partnerships with other companies that produce products that we don’t. This approach has allowed us to become a valuable resource for our customers, providing them with the solutions they need to achieve their goals.”
In closing, Tom offers some additional nuggets of wisdom.
“At the end of the day, printing is a people business.”
Tom Lancaster, Litho Press
“Yes, we rely on technology and machines to get the job done, but it’s the people behind those machines that make all the difference,” explains Tom. “Building relationships with our customers and partners is key to our success, and it’s something that we take seriously.”
As a printing company owner, it’s easy to get caught up in the minutia of everyday production. But Tom, and the fantastic people at Litho Press, recognize that it’s essential to step back and look at the big picture.
“If you’re a printing company owner, I encourage you to ask yourself, ‘What is my legacy?’ Think about the impact you want to have on the world and the legacy you want to leave behind,” says Tom. “At the end of the day, it’s the relationships you build with your customers and partners that will help you achieve your goals and create a lasting legacy.”
This article originally appeared in the June 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 email@example.com or head to their website at NPSOA.org.