By Brant Mackey
It’s 10 p.m. on a Friday night and I am standing in front of the printer getting pages for the copy editor.
Ten years ago the GCC Technologies Elite 20/1200 was a top of the line tabloid sheet laser printer for Macintosh. That was 10 years ago. These days it is a little temperamental. It takes time for pages to download and then I need to apply slight pressure to each page to get it to run through the manual feed.
Eighteen years ago we used to print our own mail labels on an antiquated dot matrix printer that had its own issues. After each line was printed the “online” button had to be pressed to keep it going. That’s 6,000 addresses with at least 4 lines a piece. So, yes, I sat there until 3 a.m. pressing that button in excess of 24,000 times.
Back then we were a brand new small business on a shoestring budget so the hundreds of dollars we saved were necessary. Today we could afford to purchase a new tabloid printer and my business partner, John Schilsky, would not hesitate for a second to spend a thousand dollars just to make my life easier.
The problem is that we only use the tabloid laser printer once a month for one project – printing 48 to 60 pages for the copy editor. It only has a single purpose and there is no return on investment because I don’t have anything better to do on Friday night anyway.
Plus, standing at my 10-year old printer every month (and that piece of garbage from 18 years ago) seems to hold some kind of significance for me and small-business ownership.
It is the cross we bear as small-business owners. We milk every penny out of every piece of equipment we have. Remember that copier I wrote about two years ago in my September 2011 column? It lasted almost 17 years before we donated it to recycle. However, as small-business owners, every penny we save – that money is ours to put in our own pocket.
I also think it is about pride. I am proud that it isn’t easy – it should be hard, at least a little bit, even after 18 years. Owning and operating your own small business should take time, effort and sacrifice.
So I really don’t mind. However, if you ever find yourself free on the last Friday of the month, stop by and we can catch up for an hour while I am standing in front of the printer.
Brant Mackey is publisher and editor of Springfield Business Journal.