President, Hadley Printing Co.; Age 38Chris Desrosiers remembers Hadley Printing — the small, one-man shop started by his grandfather, Alexander, and then acquired by his his father, Mark, and uncle, Dean — being a huge part of his life growing up. He recalls being at the shop handling odd chores while in grade school, before graduating to more serious roles on the production floor during summers in high school.
But he never intended to be part of any third-generation ownership team. In fact, after graduating from the Rochester Institute of Technology and its printing management program, he went to work for a printer in Boston. Everything changed, however, in 2003, when Dean decided he wanted to sell his ownership stake in the company. Chris saw this as a unique, and unanticipated, opportunity to return to Western Mass. and scratch an entrepreneurial itch, and he partnered with his brother, Greg, to acquire those shares.
A decade later, they completed the acquisition, buying out their father, and today they’re full partners in a business that is setting the tone in a changing, increasingly competitive printing industry.
While Greg is focused primarily on sales and marketing, Chris is involved with operations, and he played a huge role in expanding the company’s services to the larger-scale printing projects demanded by many commercial customers, thus helping it double sales since 2003.
The third-generation owners have invested heavily in equipment and people, a trend that continues with the acquisition of a new Kumari five-color, 40-inch press recently installed at the Holyoke plant. “This will help us take that large-format commercial segment to a new level,” he explained. “This investment will pay dividends.”
He’s expecting a similar return on investment from the time and energy he’s contributing to efforts to groom the next generation of printing professionals, through his involvement with Dean Technical High School and its graphic communications program.
“A business like ours is so technology-driven, it’s really a trade handled by craftsmen,” he explained. “The staff we have here is in their 40s, 50s, and 60s; we have a lot of talent here, but over the next 10 years there’s going to a be a lot of attrition, and finding people who not only have interest, but also the talent and experience, is tough these days. I got involved at Dean because I wanted to help develop new talent for this trade — and this business.”
— George O’Brien