By Brianna Childers, reproduced with permission from the Topeka Capital-Journal, November 2021
Mainline Printing has been in the Topeka, KS community since 1958, with many successful expansions under its belt. It’s still expanding today. The company has made recent moves that include a new branch and new equipment purchases, establishing the company as a nationwide and international business.
More equipment will be added to the facility in 2022. Once the new equipment is operational, Mainline Printing will have invested nearly $5 million in the company since 2020.
“We’ve seen pretty continuous growth for the last three or four years,” said John Parker Jr., Mainline Printing’s COO. “This has allowed us to increase market share with our existing client base and take on new customers.”
Mainline Printing Adds New Division: Mainline Signs
Mainline Printing in 2020 purchased Go Modern, a printing and marketing services company owned by Advisors Excel. The acquisition kickstarted the company’s expansion into Mainline Signs, which offers the production of banners, signs, posters, decals, and dimensional letters.
Parker said Mainline Signs mainly works with local businesses with the potential to draw in national and international customers, as well.
“[Mainline Signs] helps fulfill the other needs of our existing client base,” said Dean Norton, Mainline Signs’ Director of Operations. “It also allows us to expand out and bring in a different client base that the company hasn’t had before.”
New equipment, personnel, and workspace have resulted in a $250,000 investment into Mainline Signs.
Mainline Signs recently added a Fuji Acuity Prime UV flatbed printer and Esko cutting table, both top-of-the-line equipment. Parker said Mainline Signs is the first company in the United States to have the flatbed printer installed.
The flatbed printer uses an ultraviolet bulb as it moves back and forth over the sheet. The machine first primes the blank sign, allowing for more durability and adhesiveness, before laying down ink. The addition of the machine means a quicker production and completion time along with a higher quality product.
Norton said multiple variables determine how long it takes the machine to finish a project, but some can be completed in 10 minutes. Signs that have finished printing on the flatbed printer are transported across the room to the Esko cutting table. The machine then determines where the edge of the sheet is before it begins cutting each individual sign.
What’s in Mainline Printing’s Future?
The company’s printing division is full of hustle and bustle, with machines whirring and employees working to keep up with production.
Mainline Printing does it all, from pre-press to cutting labels, packaging, and producing trading cards. It has almost 100 employees, Parker said.
Mainline Printing recently added its fifth offset printing machine, a 2020 Komori six-color, 40-foot press which can run up to 14,000 sheets per hour. The machine’s was a $2 million investment.
“This is their top-of-the-line equipment,” Parker said. “We are fortunate to be involved with a lot of customers for whom you must have the best equipment to be not only competitive from a price standpoint but also from a quality perspective.”
When the Parker family acquired Mainline Printing in 1986, they set a goal of creating a diversified company.
“We do not rely only on one thing to set up us for success,” Parker said. “We had our biggest year in company history in terms of gross sales in 2020, during the pandemic.”
Parker said Mainline Printing in 2019 grew 20% and another 25% to 30% in 2020. The company anticipates it will grow another 20% in 2021.
“It wouldn’t be surprising if 2022 is the same way,” Parker said.
Mainline Holographics, the company’s third division, will add a new laminator in 2022, equating to another $2.5 million investment. This new machine will max out the company’s usable manufacturing space in its current building, which begs the question: what will be the company’s next move?
“For us, it would be expanding, which is why we were so supportive of the city’s decision to knock down the mall. In fact, we are excited to see that through,” Parker said.
How does the White Lakes Mall Demolition Affect Mainline Printing?
Parker said the former mall has been a nuisance to their business for several years.
Plans to demolish White Lakes Mall have been a long time coming for many in the community who see the rundown building as an eyesore in the capital city. The former mall has sat vacant for many years as Kent Lindemuth, the property’s owner, failed to revitalize the structure.
An arson fire started in the morning hours of Dec. 29, 2020, reignited the need to tear the building down. Fortunately, the fire didn’t spread far enough to damage Mainline Printing. “But still, to have that kind of hanging out there; nobody wants that,” Parker said.
A demolition order was issued in July following the fire, but Lindemuth failed to comply. So the city of Topeka announced in August it had ordered demolition of the mall. Demolition is estimated to cost the city up to $2.5 million and is expected to take place in December.
Now the city has a plan and timeline for demolishing White Lakes Mall, Mainline Printing can make the decision how and where it might expand.
“We had talked about how if we continued to remain in place, if we would open a facility somewhere else in Topeka,” Parker said. “But now there’s an end in sight to the mall being attached, we can go this way. We can go that way.”
Parker said the company has worked closely with the city and been vocal regarding its support for the structure’s demolition. In fact, Parker was one of six individuals who attended a Sept. 21 council meeting, at which time council members approved city manager Brent Trout’s proposal to raze the former mall.
“We are feeling positive about it,” Parker said. “It will be good for the whole community.”
Brianna Childers is the food and fun reporter for the Capital-Journal.