The calendar year is behind us, and in many ways it's a good thing. 2009 probably won't go down in the business Hall of Fame as a bright star, but it was a pretty good year all things considered. Graphic Chemical sells to a lot of schools - a lot of state schools, and and in case you missed it in all the papers - most states are bordering on bankruptcy.
Our own fine state - Illinois - is only $9 Billion in debt (or $12 Billion if you believe the loyal opposition). Our sainted Senator from the '50's and '60's, Everett McKinley Dirksen, fondly known as "old liver lips", was once quoted as saying, "a million here and a million there and pretty soon you're talking about real money!" So, we've established that states are woefully lacking in disposable income. We all know that in the grand scheme of things, art programs tend to be on the low end of the totem pole. So, one could safely assume that art material suppliers, like say Graphic Chemical, might not be having the best of years.
Interestingly enough, 2009 was our best year ever in one important category...total invoices processed. Now a lesser man than I would claim great personal involvement in that number. Realistically, however, we had little to do with it. The total number of invoices is a direct reflection on you as customers, and to a lesser extend the fact that we care a great deal about earning and keeping your business. For that we extend our heartfelt thanks to each of you.
Like most printmaking suppliers, we are a small operation - a family oriented company. Like most families, we have our eccentrics - me for example. I was, for all intents and purposes, raised in the printmaking world. During spring and summer breaks from grade school, I canned, labeled and shipped Sureset Compound. I made Dutch Mordant when I was still in high school. I learned that there was a right way and a wrong way to cut zinc and copper plates between high school and college and I learned during all of that period that sodas were free at Graphic (which accounts for a good portion of my weight gain during that time).
This has been a great industry to grow up in, and while I never assumed that I'd stay here, I've never regretted spending the past 38 years working in Villa Park. You and the rest of our customers have made it a great ride, and I look forward every day to new challenges. I'm not going anywhere, at least I hope I'm not, but don't be surprised if you get other family members on the phone more often than me - I'll be too busy planning the next business trip or maybe even a vacation or two.
Oh yeah, the picture at the top of the page. One of our customers, a lithographer among other talents, recently got married. His wedding ring, pictured above is a nice gold band with a black stripe recessed in the center of the ring. That black stripe is made from Senefelder's Crayon Black litho ink! Now that's one dedicated lithographer!