Published on December 16th, 2016 | by UC&D Magazine0
SBR 50th Anniversary
SBR Marks 50 Years of Reprographics Excellence
Service Blue Reprographics (SBR) began with humble roots in the basement of Bob and Diane Shupe’s house in Millcreek in 1966 (it was originally called Service Blue Print Company), and has grown over the years to be one of the most diverse and capable reprographics/ graphics companies in the Intermountain West.
The Shupes were both in their mid-30’s (Bob is 87, Diane 83) when they launched the business, with Bob also working full-time for Union Pacific Railroad as an industrial engineer in the properties department. Ultimately, SBR proved profitable enough to where Bob was able to quit UP and concentrate his efforts on the family business.
SBR/Vision Graphics now has four subsidiaries and operates out of its facility in Salt Lake on 2525 South 900 West. The Shupes are still majority owners, but turned over day-to-day operations a decade ago to executives including President Guy Timothy and Senior Vice Presidents Jeff Holley, Matt Dalton, and Brent Jones.
Bob Shupe said the impetus behind starting the company five decades ago was primarily for another income stream so they could buy a larger house to accommodate their growing family.
The company initially focuses primarily on making blue prints via the old ammonia-based machines. They initially worked with architects and engineers, before expanding to the construction industry. The company’s client base has also expanded to include customers all over the country, something Shupe said he expected to happen from the very beginning.
“We had ambitious plans – I expected the company would grow to this size and fortunately it did,” said Shupe. “We started as a blue print company – that’s all we did in the beginning before branching into other printing specifications.”
The Shupe’s moved their company out of their basement and into an office on Highland Drive and 30th South in 1979, moved again to 3210 Highland in 1984, before moving to its present location in 2008. In anticipation of the 2002 Salt Lake Olympics, SBR started its Color Graphics division in 1994 at a Redwood Road location and ended up doing a significant amount of Olympic-related graphics, which greatly boosted the firm’s bottom line while increasing overall capacity and diversity. In 2011 SBR purchased Vision International and combined Color Graphics to create Vision Graphics. In 2013, SBR bought Ogden Blue – a long-time reprographics shop in the Ogden area. The firm’s most recent acquisition occurred earlier this year when it bought Universal Color Graphics in Las Vegas, which expanded its capacity with full off-set printing abilities.
“The biggest change in the industry is that printing has become de-centralized,” said Jones. “7-8 years ago you would print 50 sets for subs – now they print 5-6 sets and give CD’s to contractors. That is why equipment we have is selling so well – subs need to be able to print these individual trades and bid off of it. We’ve grown tremendously the past couple of years.”
Timothy and Dalton focus on graphics side of the business, while Holley and Jones take care of more traditional reprographics and equipment sales (the firm represents Oce’ and HP PageWide large format equipment). In addition to reprographics and graphics, SBR specializes in digital display, offset printing, billboards, and a host of other printing (cards, flyers, brochures, etc.). Jones said the firm has done graphics/signage for the NFL Pro Bowl the past several years, the University of Utah’s Rice-Eccles Stadium, Maverick Stadium at Utah State, the Cincinnati Bengals and UCLA. Other prominent clients include the Utah Jazz/Vivint Smart Home Arena, Café Rio, the NHL Winter Classic, and the Tour of Utah bicycle race.
“Growth has occurred by going deeper into A/E/C marketing,” Jones added. “Site signage, custom packaging, promotional products. We’re always looking at other opportunities (for expansion) and continue to look for companies with value in the regional area.”
The firm currently has 80 employees total, many of whom have been with the firm for 20-plus years, including Timothy, who has 25 years experience at SBR, having started in 1991.
“Guy started working with us right out of high school,” said Shupe. “Some people working for us, it’s the only job they’ve ever had. We have excellent employees – they’re the key to the success of the company. We wouldn’t be near the company we’ve been without their loyalty and dedication.”
“What made (the Shupe’s) successful is that they hire good people and trust employees to do their job,” said Timothy, who said the firm is poised for 15% growth this year, with expectations that revenues will continue to increase in the future. “I see us transitioning into more environmental graphics and point of purchase.”
The Shupe’s will ultimately sell their stake to the current leaders, as Bob believes they’ve earned it.
“They should end up owning the business,” he said. “They built it, they should have the income and everything else. I have a lot of respect for the A/E/C industry – it’s a close-knit industry and a really good group of people.”