With connections potentially linked to the printing of the Declaration of Independence, we sat down with Jonathan Shapiro, President of Smith-Edwards- Dunlap, and Judy Hill, Sales Representative at Smith-Edwards- Dunlap, to discuss how the company has continued to grow into what is now Philly’s leading commercial printer.


So, tell me a little bit about what your company does.

Jonathan: We are Smith-Edwards- Dunlap and we also trade under Graphic Arts Inc., one of our subsidiaries. We’re a full-service commercial printing company and do all of our pre-press, press work, bindery, and fulfillment, whether it be shrink-wrap or mailing and shipping, right here in Philadelphia.

Describe your roles in the company.
Jonathan: I run the company so I wear a lot of hats. In fact, I came out of the sales department and still have my own clients, so I still manage my own sales book. I also set the pricing and manage the sales team. I also still work with our team of top level managers to supervise long-term planning. Every day is different but I love every one – which is largely why I’ve been with the company for 38 years.

Judy: I manage my clients, which involves a lot of visits and lot of work to properly understand what they need. If a customer sends a job in, I’ll review it with them and discuss any ideas they may have about production, costs, timing and all the other pieces of the puzzle. We mull it over and we see what’s doable, so that the product we deliver is exactly the product they are looking for.


How long has Smith-Edwards- Dunlap been operating in Philadelphia?

Jonathan: Well, the Dunlap part of the name, we believe, goes back to at least 1776, when a printer named John Dunlap printed the very first public issue of the Declaration of Independence. We’re pretty sure we go back that far, but we can’t track it exactly. The Smith-Edwards name came along later when the Lobel family purchased the company in 1938. They grew their printing business through a series of acquisitions and mergers. They acquired Dunlap Printing in the 60s. Hence the current name, Smith- Edwards-Dunlap.

Wow what a history! And today, you’re one of the last big printing companies in the city of Philadelphia, right?

Jonathan: We’re happy to still be here. I mean, we have 100 jobs down on the floor and our folks have been here on average 20 years or greater… it’s kind of like a family. On one hand I’m really happy that we’ve tended our garden well and withstood the changes in the marketplace. On the other hand, it’s sad that what was once a great, huge industry in the city has contracted so much.

Can you answer the always pressing question – is print really dead?

Jonathan: Print is not dead. In fact, we have seen it start to grow again over the last five years. It’s a lot more than just print on paper; it’s the service we give you in turn. A lot of companies, instead of sending you a paper instruction manual, will give you a link to a website so you can print it yourself. It’s not paperless; it’s just somebody else’s paper. I think a lot of marketing professionals realize that mail still gets more attention than email. When you get something in a mailbox and if it’s designed properly and printed well, it’ll get your attention a lot more than junk email will. People realize they can do things electronically but also still like to back it up with a paper touch.

How has the growth of technology impacted the way you do business?

Jonathan: Technology changes things and the marketplace also changes, we’ve tried to stay ahead of both. We just have to make our business leaner, smarter, and better. Our long standing clients recognize the value that we deliver and understand the meaning of this value despite how the market has commoditized.


When you are meeting with prospective clients, how do you begin establishing a new relationship?
Jonathan: A big obstacle is getting in front of clients. With email, voicemail, and caller ID people don’t want to be bothered. They don’t want you to invade their space. You know that you’re going to be their white knight to come in and save them, giving them a better way to do things… but they don’t know that yet.

People like to think that they can accomplish a lot more from their computer but I think in this world, things are increasingly depersonalized. I encourage my folks to make it personal. Develop actual relationships where we sit down across the table from one another.

Judy: First, I’m going to do my research about who I’m meeting with, to get some insight into what the company is about and what they’re trying to achieve.

If I’m trying to get my foot in the door with a new account and they keep saying “no,” here’s what I do… I have these brand new sneakers, I leave them with a bag of candy, my card and a note: “Still trying to get my foot in your door.”

And you know – it’s an ice breaker. Once I get my foot in the door I build the rapport from there.


What does it mean for your company to have big, local clients like PGW?

Jonathan: It’s good for business of course, but I think it also speaks to the kind of company we are that we’re doing work for high-profile clients. We live here, we work here, we pay our taxes here. Companies should support one another in that regard. It’s all for the general good. It’s nice to see that in Philadelphia.

Any final thoughts you’d like to share?

For more information on Smith-Edwards- Dunlap and their services you can visit their website here.
Four things to know about Smith-Edwards- Dunlap as a vendor:
– They are qualified as a woman-owned business through their subsidiary, Graphic Arts.
– They are a union shop and support the union movement.
– They are a G7 Master Printer certified by the Printing Industries of America.
– They are Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certified.