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K&H Print – the commercial printing company with over a century of experience

 

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The History of K&H

K&H was founded in 1908 in Everett, Wash., by Lawrence Kane and William Harcus.

jayWilliam's parents James and Margaret Harcus traveled from Chicago to Portland, and finally settled in Everett shortly after 1900. He was the preacher of the local Plymouth Brethren congregation, known as the Gospel Hall Christians.

The Harcus children included sons William and Charles, and daughters Margaret and Mary. William was apprenticed by Knisely Printing to become a typesetter. The family moved into a boarding house on Hoyt Avenue, where they met Lawrence Kane, a Michigander by birth, but most recently of Yakima where his family ranched. Following his father's death, Lawrence came to Everett in 1900 at the age of 20 and tried his hand at a number of jobs. He sold books for the Int'l Correspondence School, and pedaled Bibles from horseback. Raised an Irish Catholic, he converted to the Plymouth Brethren faith of the Harcuses, and in 1915 he married Miss Mary Harcus. Their son Donald Kane entered the Kane & Harcus family business in the 1940s as an outside salesperson.

So, Kane & Harcus were more than business partners; they were brothers-in-law!

Lawrence Kane the salesman and Will Harcus the experienced printer began their printing venture in 1908 as Cascade Stationery & Printing, but soon renamed the company Kane & Harcus and set up shop in the basement of the Commerce building at 2827 Rockefeller, on the same block as the Brown Brothers' print shop, and close to Priebe Stationery & Bindery on Wetmore.

Prior to Boeing's arrival in the 1960s, there was an abundance of mills in Everett: Weyerhaeuser, Scott, Everett Plywood, and Everett Pulp & Paper have all been situated here. At a time when Everett was known as "The City of Smokestacks," Kane & Harcus naturally catered to the timber industry. Aside from printing direct mail advertising literature and social stationery items, they manufactured waterproof log scale tally books. A salesman would drive up and down the West Coast, or even hop a freight train and head towards the timberlands to get orders for these products. As late as the 1980s, Ross Kane (Donald's son) recalls traveling to Darrington for his Snohomish County job, and having his name recognized because of the "Kane & Harcus" tagline on log scale items.

With such success, Kane & Harcus moved up in the local business world - literally - from the basement to the main level of the Commerce Building.

They were conservative Christian men (Ross recalls no smoking or drinking in business or social settings). This is reflected in some of the company literature and, oddly enough, in a profitable business venture. A gentleman they knew from church invited them to invest in the Red Rock Creamery (known for its invention of sweetened cottage cheese). They did so, and when Red Rock Creamery was bought out in 1925, they could either hold stock in the new company (Kraft) or cash out their stock. They opted for the cash, and with their windfall they accomplished three things:

  • They built lovely homes side by side; still standing today.
  • They financed moving the Lutheran Church building to its present location near Clark Park.
  • They put money into their printing business, which saw them through the Great Depression.

Vernon R. Haines owned a typewriter service company just across the street from Kane & Harcus, and was active in the Chamber of Commerce with them. When the economy forced him to close his business in 1933, he walked across the street, and got hired as a Salesman to focus on local accounts. He enjoyed it and his career blossomed; eventually in 1947 Lawrence Kane permitted him to buy into the business. Lawrence's son Donald, a young man in his 20s, was also a salesman interested in owning the firm. When Lawrence Kane and William Harcus retired in 1951, Don and Vern became equal partners.

Vern's son Vernon P. Haines (better known as "Bud") got his first real job in 1942, driving (and apparently denting) the Kane & Harcus delivery truck. Eleven years later, with a wife and two daughters to support, he was selling Oldsmobiles when his dad invited him to work for the company again, this time in sales. His first day on the job was memorable: He didn't show up, because his son Rob had arrived three weeks early!

Bud had lots to learn about printing, and was a diligent student. The industry was changing; letterpress printing was giving way to offset printing, and Vern and Don had purchased a 1250 Multilith. Prior to this time, most jobs were black and white, run on letterpress, using cuts purchased from Everett Photoengraving Company. Printing on the Multilith required purchasing negatives and plates from a supplier. Don and Vern decided it was time to shop for the pieces to build their own prep department: a process camera, plate frame, light table, arc lights, a plate whirler, and an employee to operate them.

In late 1953, Bernie Webber, the talented young artist at Thornhill Publishing Company became Kane & Harcus' first Art Director. During his tenure, the company acquired a new 2-color 29" Miele Press from West Germany and expanded its office space. Bernie remained until 1961, when he worked freelance; a loss to Kane & Harcus to be sure, but it proved over the years to be a tremendous gain to our community. The creative forces of Bernie Webber and his successor Clydeana Pouria helped establish K&H in Everett as "The Printer with Ideas in his Ink."

Don Kane and Vern Haines determined their company simply could not grow any more in the Commerce Building, and began searching for suitable quarters. Local realtor Dan Duryee directed them to 1631 Broadway, the old Arown Dairy Company building. They also invited Bud to become an owner. He and wife Norma took the plunge.

K&H moved into its new location in spring 1963, occupying the main floor. The basement was leased to Jerry's Surplus for storage. There was plenty of room for growth, but the owners quickly discovered one drawback: The shop was no longer just a convenient walk from Everett Typesetting Company. Any type errors to be corrected required several car trips back and forth. We needed our own typesetting equipment and an employee to operate it, but where to get it? Coincidentally, Don Kane learned that the firm Printer Brown (which just happened to have typesetting equipment) was reluctantly relocating. A merger was proposed and accomplished in spring of '65. At this time, Vern Haines opted to retire. And within a year, Don Kane resigned. Bud and Norma negotiated with the Brown brothers, and became the owners January 1, 1969.

The six Haines children spent plenty of Saturdays at K&H doing various jobs. Bud always held the door open for them to enter the family business, and has passed on his drive to keep ahead of the competition, to be at the cutting edge.

In 1984, Bud Haines erected a beautiful new building at 1611 Broadway, to house administrative, customer service and prepress functions. Press, bindery and shipping departments remained at the south end of the block, and Ray's Adult Delicatessen was sandwiched in between our 2 buildings. "K&H North," with its skylights and windows east and west was a great place to work, and to socialize.

Prepress technology changed continually in the '80s and early '90s, and K&H stayed on the cutting edge, purchasing VariTyper typesetting equipment, the Gerber AutoPrep, MacIntosh desktop computers for our two designers, and the seemingly magic Scitex scanner and film assembler.

Four-color printing was becoming easier to accomplish. At the same time, one-color printing, specifically black ink on white paper for technical manuals, was a growing market. So in 1990, K&H added its first Xerox DocuTech 5090 digital printer, servicing customers such as Hewlett-Packard, and the Precor and Quinton companies of Bothell. We've been upgrading and adding Xerox machines to our pressroom ever since.

In the 1990s, K&H acquired plenty of new equipment, and plenty of new people. We inherited the Fluke Company's print shop crew, and the staff of Greater Seattle Printing & Mailing, and we welcomed consultant Jay Ackley, who has since become the owner of K&H.

Eventually K&H's visionary senior management team decided to get into the mailing business and developed a baseline of high volume customers. We landed Seattle Filmworks and, shortly thereafter, according to the Post Office, K&H was the largest volume mailer of standard mail in Washington State. Such growth prompted K&H to move its mailing operations to Seaway Boulevard. Ultimately the entire print shop moved from its longtime home on Broadway to its present location on Hardeson Road.

K&H has long been involved in printing public election materials such as ballots and political flyers. But in 2002, we entered a new area: private elections. A company in Bellevue serendipitously referred us as a printer to the 8th Annual Screen Actors Guild Awards Committee. It was suggested that K&H could handle the entire election process, from printing and mailing out ballots to tabulation and delivering the secret results for the Awards Show. That first private election led to the formation of K&H's daughter company Integrity Voting Systems.

Likewise our public elections printing and mailing business has grown, and prompted the purchase of yet more equipment: two Oce 9000 Digital Web Presses.

Most recently, the opportunity presented itself in late 2006 for K&H to purchase Southgate Press, adding web presses to our equipment capabilities, new customers such as Comcast and Washington Mutual, and of course a new crew of employees.

Since 1908, a lot has changed in the printing and mailing world, but some things remain the same. K&H is still printing, still mailing, and still--just as Lawrence Kane and Will Harcus intended--endeavoring to be "continually progressing since 1908."