Livingston Company Booming
By Kayley Mendenhall, Chronicle Staff Writer
Bozeman Daily Chronicle
Copyright 2004 the Bozeman Daily Chronicle
LIVINGSTON -- A torn sheet of bubble wrap lines the slanted ceiling of the old creamery building where PrintingForLess's offices are, literally, bursting at the seams.
The plastic bubbles are a joke, but development director Dan Rice said it has a purpose -- to keep cramped employees from hitting their heads.
In the past 18 months PrintingForLess has grown from 58 to 97 employees and now has openings for 30 new people, Rice said.
So the business, which prints everything from business cards to CD covers for customers who place orders online, has plans to build a 42,000-square-foot building on 70 acres west of Livingston near Interstate 90.
"We're hoping to break ground this fall," Rice said.
The expansion, including the land and a new building, is expected to cost about $4.5 million, said Jeff Batton, interim chief financial officer. And PrintingForLess, which was working with Park County to secure government grants, has decided to go ahead without public funds.
The county recently received a $900,000 U.S. Economic Development Administration grant based on job creation at PrintingForLess, said Park County Commissioner Ed Schilling.
That money was slated to help build a business park at the new PrintingForLess location, but both parties said collaborating to use the money proved too complicated.
Now that PrintingForLess has decided to fund its project on its own, Schilling said, the county is working out what it will do with the grant. It may go toward building infrastructure at the site, including water and sewer systems and roads.
"This is an excellent opportunity to start this development out there and keep it going," Schilling said. "We are very fortunate to have (PrintingForLess) starting their business in Livingston."
PrintingForLess was founded by Andrew Field in 1996 as a small commercial printing plant. The business went online in 1999 and found it could fill a niche, offering customers the conveinence of printing services with the click of a mouse.
Now, Rice said, nearly all the company's business is done over the Internet and 98 percent of orders come from out of state.
"We aren't taking business from the local printers," Rice said. "And virtually everybody we hire is from Montana."
About three years ago, PrintingForLess started to focus on customer service, Batton said. The company hired more of its "technical service consultants" to answer phones and help customers make their orders successful.
Each new hire now goes through an intense 18-week training period before starting a job. They learn more than 20 computer programs like Photoshop and Excel and once released from training work on three computer monitors at once.
"This is the most technical job I've ever had," said Deon Fackler, a new employee who previously worked for the Tech Ranch in Bozeman and for Amazon.com in Seattle. "It's also the most like Amazon. It has a funky culture."
Dogs are as welcome as people at the "crazy creamery," where the printing presses run 24 hours a day, seven days a week, Rice said. His only concern about the company's success is that PrintingForLess will lose some of its flavor.
"The bigger you get," he said, "the harder it is to keep your culture."
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