It was a whole different world – and a whole different business – when Petro-Tech Printing opened its doors 50 years ago. In 1967, Petroleum Technicians provided seismic mapping and blueprints for the oil and gas sector and needed someone to reproduce the maps. Dan Costea was hired to do the reproductions and within two years he had bought into the business and added printing presses. Oil and gas faltered but the printing side continued to grow.
“At the time, all the things that computers do today, we were doing it by hand,” says Derek Costea, Dan’s son and general manager of Petro-Tech Printing.
As the industry changed, so did Petro-Tech. It welcomed the booms and rode out the busts of oil-driven Calgary, attracting clients from other sectors and embracing the introduction of technology and high-efficiency equipment along the way.
The late 1990s were difficult, and while Petro-Tech remained standing after the recession, it was left battered. Derek, who joined the company in 1981, and his father wanted to move forward and grow, and to do that they needed to incorporate big presses into Petro-Tech’s services. They looked for partners who shared their vision in order to make it a reality.
“We joined forces with Prolific Group out of Manitoba, who purchased a majority of us in 1999, and what that brought to the table was the big presses. It worked really well and we’re still partners today,” says Derek Costea.
Prolific had a location in Red Deer with large presses, so Petro-Tech could provide clients with another service option while avoiding the overhead that comes with operating such large machines. It was a great partnership and over the next two decades it helped Petro-Tech evolve and prosper in a rapidly-changing market.
As oil and gas companies went digital with their operations, the original mapping reproduction business became obsolete. Petro-Tech adapted their business model and then did so again during the most recent recession. Its repertoire now includes printing of everything from large-format projects like signage, posters and banners to business cards and stationery for companies across the city and across sectors.
“We’ve diversified from oil and gas into everything else. If it has anything to do with print or marketing or advertising or the web, we’re on it. We’ll find a way to do anything,” Derek Costea says.
That “do-anything” attitude of the staff, many of whom have been with the company for decades, is what has carried Petro-Tech since the 1960s. Unlike most printing shops, Petro-Tech doesn’t restrict itself to four-colour projects. To ensure proper colour matching and brand consistency, it can print to a specific pantone colour to give clients exactly what they want.
But what clients want isn’t always reflected in what they provide to printers. Rather than just printing the files “as is,” Petro-Tech offers file correction to ensure clients truly get what they want every time. Whether it’s a matter of incorrect settings, compression issues or colour inconsistency, Petro-Tech provides a breakdown of the problems clients should address before proceeding, and clients can choose to do it themselves or hire the printers to make the corrections.
Derek Costea is happy to go the extra mile, honouring his father’s commitment to quality service. With a slogan, “Where Service Makes a World of Difference,” clients know they are going to get a quality product on time and on budget. And many clients are long-term ones, dating back decades and singing Petro-Tech praises to their colleagues. This word-of-mouth marketing has kept the company busy and allowed them to focus on how to best meet clients’ needs rather than on generating sales.
Today, meeting needs means staying abreast of trends and technology. Petro-Tech offers online ordering (Hyperprint.com), which conveniently tracks inventory levels and alerts clients when they are running low on stock. It is also upgrading equipment when, after 40 years in the same location, it moves its shop next fall.
“It’s a great thing. We’re going to change some of the equipment and upgrade, so we’re new and refreshed,” he says.
Petro-Tech boasts a state-of-the-art UV printer that uses less power, no solvents and latex ink that dries instantly allowing for same-day delivery on large outdoor jobs. The hybrid machine prints directly to boards or from rolls to accommodate any project. Derek Costea is also bringing in metallic ink printers and incorporating gold and silver foiling to ride the newest wave in printing.
Petro-Tech Printing has seen it all in the past 50 years – from drilling maps to 160-foot banners to metallic mail marketing packages – and as it celebrates a half-century in business, this local institution is proud to continue to meet Calgary’s printing needs.