I've done a few posts on people you should know in the printmaking community over the past couple of years. One of these pieces that I had intended to write was about Brice and Suellen Bock, the brother and sister act that ran Rembrandt Graphic Arts.
Over the past several years, Rembrandt has struggled with issues that affect all of us, and some that were unique to their operation. In June of this year, we began to suspect that things were going south more quickly than we suspected for RGA. On Thursday, I received confirmation that after 61 years of providing for the printmaking needs of a very loyal customer base, Rembrandt Graphic Arts had closed their doors for good.
Like many others in this industry, I consider Brice and Suellen as friends. We have worked with them for well over 30 years, and tried to help where we could. Sure, we were competitors on one level, but the one thing I really like about this industry is the way that even competitors get along well.
I first met Brice in 1975 in Philadelphia at the NAEA convention. The exhibit area was an unused parking garage, and wasn't anywhere near as nice as you'd expect. Up to this point, each company would find a way to get a catalog from their competitors to keep up with products and pricing. I walked into their booth, introduced myself and announced that my Aunt May wanted to free herself from annually asking for Rembrandt's catalog to be sent to her Francisville, IN home. I was sure that whomever Rembrandt's "Aunt May" was, they probably wanted out of the arrangement too.
I handed Brice my catalog and asked if they'd sent me theirs. Within a few months, I managed to convince them that Graphic's products would be a great addition to their catalog, and the rest, as they say, was history.
I visited Rembrandt, along with my wife Susan, about 5 years ago. We spent a pleasant day with Brice and Suellen, including lunch a some little historic inn over on the Pennsylvania side of the river (the Delaware, if I'm any judge of rivers). Their offices were in a unique building - physically larger than Graphic Chemical by about 1000 square feet. The building was very long and fairly narrow. In fact it was so long that they kept a bicycle at the front of the warehouse so they could ride to the back of the building when necessary! It turns out the in another life the building had served as a chicken coop on what I assume was a commercial farm.
We're now working with some of Rembrandt's customers to help insure that their source of supply will be uninterrupted. I can't guarantee that we'll be able to fill every gap, but I've had discussions with them to help continue their legacy. We will work with any of you that have unique products from Rembrandt - just let me know what it is, and we'll find the source.