Profiles of Excellence: Hemlock Printers Ltd.

The world has changed immeasurably over the last half century. In the printing industry, nearly every facet of business has shifted, evolved, and grown in ways that would have been unimaginable when Hemlock Printers opened its doors 50 years ago.

But under the surface, the guiding principles that helped Hemlock make a name for itself so long ago are still providing a rock-solid foundation for the present – and the future.

“We are a progressive, family-owned business that has built our reputation on quality, integrity, innovation and sustainable practices,” said Doug Climie, vice president, sales and marketing. “We were founded in 1968 – so we’re celebrating our 50th anniversary – and Hemlock has become one of North America’s most recognized commercial sheet-fed printers.”

The Burnaby-based company provides services to a huge spectrum of clients, from leading retail brands, to designers, agencies, publishers and more. In an era of change and challenge, Hemlock has continued to not just survive, but thrive and grow.

“Our consistent success can be attributed to a number of factors, perhaps the most prominent of which is our founder Dick Kouwenhoven’s legacy of integrity in business, deep roots in the communities and markets we service, technical innovation and investment, a commitment to environmental responsibility, and a passion for the craft,” said Climie. “Maintaining these attributes means we can attract and retain some of the finest talent in the industry, who help us develop new products and services for our valued current clients while expanding into other segments and markets and attracting new customers.”

Hemlock now operates two facilities in the city, with almost 100,000 square feet of production space and nearly 200 employees, with anther 40 employees in a co-owned organization, Hemlock Harling Distribution Ltd., based in Richmond. As well, Hemlock has satellite offices in Victoria, Seattle and San Francisco.

Over the years it has garnered awards and accolades across the industry – in 2018 alone they earned 13 awards, including Most Environmentally Progressive Printing Company, from the 2018 Canadian Printing Awards. And closer to home, they recently took home the Burnaby Board of Trade’s Business of the Year award.

“That’s really a testament to the dedication and hard of everyone at Hemlock, and to receive this recognition on our 50th anniversary is especially poignant,” he said. “The company truly does maintain a remarkable culture, even as we expand and grow, working hard to retain that ‘family feel.’ The second generation ownership, led by President and COO Richard Kouwenhoven, demonstrates huge respect and commitment to this legacy.”

But no matter how much recognition the team and the company receive for their business efforts, there’s no time to rest on the successes of the past. Hemlock is constantly looking to the future and staying ahead of the curve, be it through adopting new technology, leading the charge on environmental practices, giving back to the local community, or implementing new business approaches.

“Hemlock is proud to have been a vital part of the business, arts and culture, and charitable communities in Burnaby for 50 years, and remain committed to maintaining that role in the coming decades,” he said. “And we’re committed to ensuring that print continues to be an exciting, relevant, and meaningful part of how we communicate and build connected communities.”

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