Paying a call on Loretto’s faithful partners at Sunset Printing
We enter Sunset Printing’s lobby to find Kim Clem bidding welcome with a beautiful smile. Kim and Eddie Clem have been running Sunset Printing since 2008 when they took over the family shop. All these years, they’ve been fulfilling Loretto’s printing requirements, and Eddie’s brother, Danny, worked with the Community prior to 2008.
It’s been a long, rewarding partnership. Sunset prints the Loretto directories and Loretto’s Christmas cards; they have printed annual reports, golf tournament materials, poetry books (including Cecily Jones’s “Porch of Possibility” and “Mostly for Promise”).
Kim pulls out books of paper samples. We’re here to choose cover stock for an upcoming Loretto project. Printers have had a hard time getting paper in recent times and it remains challenging. We make several selections, in case the first choice isn’t available.
They permit us to step into the print shop behind the lobby where we spot a large Original Heidelberg letterpress printing press. This is one of four Heidelbergs owned by Sunset. Heidelbergs were manufactured in Germany starting in 1923; the last presses were produced in 1985. They are still in wide use and are revered in printing circles. As Eddie says, “They simply can’t be beat.” Sunset’s Heidelberg presses are each more than 50 years old and, Eddie says, “working as well as the day they were built.” Letterpress printing is a real art and one that is falling by the wayside. Eddie loves the letterpress work. Sunset also offers offset and digital printing, he points out.
The couple makes an excellent team. “We work really, really well together,” Kim says. “I’m good at some things, and he’s good at some things.” Kim loves interacting with people and appreciates the fact that “in this business, there is never a dull moment.”
Eddie grew up in his family’s print shop and knows the printing world inside and out. He loves the art of the work, and it shows in the quality of his finished pieces. As he says, “The art of printing is not putting ink on paper; it’s making the ink become part of the paper. It’s making both the paper and the ink work together in concert to optimize the combination of the two.” This is an art that takes time and commitment to learn, and these days, few are interested. In his case, “It’s 40-plus years of experience, it’s working on our craft to improve every day.”
They’ve never advertised; all of their business comes via word of mouth. Kim calls Sunset’s customers their “loyal base,” adding, “We made it through the coronavirus fine. We’re just very blessed. We’re still in business because we meet deadlines, we do what we say we’re going to do, and we care.”
It’s all about community, about relationship-building, they explain. Eddie says, “We spend all the time necessary with our clients to understand what they want and we strive to make that a reality. In the end, it’s about getting our clients the work they deserve and caring about each job as if it were our own.”
Kim and Eddie each mention the importance of their relationships with the small businesses with which they collaborate. They believe in “supporting those small businesses,” Kim says, “helping each other out, not letting each other down.” Back in the lobby, the front door opens, and a man bustles in. He and Kim exchange greetings. She offers him a soda. His family’s business, a delivery service, has worked with Sunset for 30 years. This is one of the small businesses Kim and Eddie mentioned. Others produce dyes, manufacture foil or provide binding.
Yes, it’s all about relationships. Kim’s final words? “If you can help somebody, help somebody. It would be a better world.” Isn’t that what Loretto is all about? No wonder it’s been a long and satisfying partnership.