SUPPLIERS YOU SHOULD KNOW - Part 2
Another of the suppliers that I think you should know has been a friend of mine for ages. Tom Conrad, his father, uncle and several brothers have all worked in their family business, supporting Graphic Chemical & Ink and later Printmakers Machine Company since the early '60's. In fact, the families are so closely linked that when a relative of mine recently put old 8mm movies on to a DVD, there were several minutes right in the middle that he couldn't figure out. Turns out that it was a movie taken by n=my father at Conrad's machine shop back in the early '60's.
Conrad Machine Company has been a premier manufacturer of etching and litho presses since that time, first making the Sturges and Graphic Litho lines for Graphic Chemical. When Printmakers Machine Company bought the press side of the business in 1976, Conrad continued on as their machine shop.
The Sturges line of presses is the oldest press line in the United States, dating back to approximately 1917, when Lee Sturges, a noted printmaker, began making presses for himself and his friends.
One of Conrad's significant events was when they collaborated with Graphic Chemical to take on the production of the first-ever patented etching press in the U.S. - the Dickerson Combination press. When the Dickerson press was first made - by Ted Dickerson's brother-in-law - it was not as sophisticated as it could have been. Conrad Machine and Graphic Chemical together suggested a number of improvements in the way the press was designed and functioned, and in no time it was one of the best selling press lines ever!
The press is essentially the same today as it was in 1967 when the DC-2 was first made, although it no longer carries the Dickerson name. (It is now called the Printmakers Combination Press, model PC-2).
A number of years ago, Conrad Machine's plant was located almost squarely in the path of what would eventually become I-355, a highway linking Interstate 55 with the Northwest suburbs of Chicago. The Conrad families moved to their current location in Whitehall, MI where the winters are colder and snowier, but the fishing is significantly better.Tom and his wife Dorothy are very active in their community and church, and in the printmaking community as well. Tom currently serves as a representative of the vendors on the board of the Southern Graphics Council.