The story of AJ Printing & Graphics starts long ago, but not so far away. Dan Evans, a counselor at Rincon Valley Junior High, told (then student) Dan Johnston about the Excel program at Sonoma State University. Shortly thereafter, he enrolled in the graphics program taught by Robin Williams where he found his passion. To this day, Dan happily reminisces about linotype and "rustic" software and hardware - from Aldus to Zip. In 1989, Dan began his career working for a small copy and print center named Copies, Etc. in Santa Rosa, California.
After several years in the automobile industry selling parts to repair and body shops locally, Greg Johnston knew it was time for a change and yet he wasn’t quite sure what form the change should take. Going to college wasn’t for him and he had long dreamt of working in law enforcement...possibly for the DEA where he would be kicking in doors doing drug raids. (We think Greg might have watched too many movies.) Alas, fate had other plans.
One Saturday morning in 1994, the Johnston brothers were on their way to visit their grandparents in Lakeport when Dan had an idea. Copies, Etc. was for sale and he recognized that purchasing it could be a great fit. Dan brought it up to Greg, who was more than receptive and from this point, their collective, enterprising minds began to work. Greg’s favorable attributes were charm, sales experience, and surplus capital. In addition to being tech-savvy, Dan had industry knowledge and ideas. Given their combined skills, the opportunity seemed too good to pass up.
After hours of discussion and planning, they decided to run the idea by their father, a CPA. His initial reaction was that he thought they were crazy! After all, Greg was 23 and Dan only 21 years old - thus success for two men their ages seemed a stretch. Greg and Dan went for it anyway! They approached a local SBA lender for the remaining capital needed to acquire Copies, Etc. Their plan was to move the Montgomery Village location two doors down and double the square footage over the weekend after escrow closed. Additionally, they intended to add more black and white copiers along with a color copier and incorporate business services such as UPS/FedEx and packaging. "With the addition of more square footage we built from scratch (on a shoe string budget) all of our counters and cabinets. Amazingly, they looked pretty darn good and we still use many of them today, 18 years later, as a testimonial to our craftsmanship," Greg laughs. After many months of painstaking effort and multiple hurdles, they finally got lending and building approvals and completed the purchase of Copies, Etc. in February of 1995.
In May of 2000, Jim and Pagan Cruit, the founders of AJ Printing & Graphics, decided to retire after 22 years in the printing business. The Johnston brothers had a friendship and Rotary connection with the Cruits. After some deliberation, it was agreed that they would purchase AJ Printing and roll the two companies together at AJ Printing’s Central Avenue location where it still exists today. Over the last 16 years, AJ Printing & Graphics has steadily grown as a visual communications provider, satisfying customer demand in a wide (and ever growing) range of categories - from pattern printing and marketing banners to all kinds of large signage and everyday business collateral. Renowned locally for impeccable quality and customer service, AJ Printing & Graphics has truly become your one-stop-shop partner in the printing business.
After 15 years at their Central Ave. location in Santa Rosa, the AJ Printing & Wine Country Sign team picked up and expanded to over 8,000 square feet. They also added a digital printer, new team members and a greater abili