by Jim Boyle
Elk River Printing has been named the 2011 Business of the Year by the Elk River Area Chamber of Commerce.
The brother and sister team of Bill and Julie Fish will accept the award at a noon luncheon on Dec. 13 a the Friendly Buffalo in Big Lake.
“It’s humbling,” Julie said. “It’s something I have wanted and now I’m kind of surprised to get it. It’s a big honor.”
Julie and Bill Fish should not be surprised at all, as they have managed to remain very successful for nearly 30 years. In fact, the printing firm will turn 30 on Feb. 1.
“We will have been a chamber member for all 30 of those years,” Julie said.
She has been the one to serve with the chamber and in the Elk River Rotary and be out and about in the community over the years.
“(Bill) lets me volunteer and he stays back and makes sure our production is running smooth,” she said. “I’m the balloon and he’s the lead weight when I have all these big ideas.”
Of course, she’s had some pretty good ideas over the years. One of her proudest accomplishments, however, was the recognition from her Rotary club that bestowed a Paul Harris Fellow Award.
Fish has always had a soft spot for Rotary. She was a Student of the Month in Monticello back when she was in high school. She also sang in a choir that performed around the holidays for the group when she was in high school. And she attended Camp Enterprise thanks to the Monticello club.
“That was teaching me all about being an entrepreneur when I had no idea I would need these skills,” she said. “It was kind of like when I took typing because I thought it would be fun and easy. I needed that, too.”
Julie and Bill, who bought the business from their parents in 1994, cut their teeth on the business in their early years. Their parents, Bill and Joann Fish, bought printing equipment from Elmer L. Andersen in 1982.
The shop opened on Feb. 1 of that year, and a full-page ad ran in Andersen’s newspaper (what is now the Star News).
Bill had worked at the Elk River Star News for 15 years prior to the opportunity to purchase the equipment from Andersen.
Julie was 18 when the business was established and she helped answer phones and provide customer service. A couple of years later Bill and Joann hired their son, Bill, to help out in production.
Elk River Printing, which was first located in the lower level of Martin Plaza across from the Elk River Dairy Queen, moved to its current location at 596 Dodge Ave. in 1990. The business offers printing and graphic design services.
Elk River Printing focuses and relies heavily on business-to-business sales in the community.
Bill says the key to success has been good employees, of which Elk River Printing has four total, and good and loyal customers that want to support local businesses.
“We offer good, quality service,” Julie Fish said.
That’s just one of the reasons the Elk River Area Chamber has selected the business for this award. Other reasons include their contributions to the community and their exceptional business performance.
“This means a lot to us,” Julie Fish said.