Alexander Standard Printing
Printing Partners History  Company History
From Insty-Prints to Printing Partners
Printing Partners is a local family-owned commercial printer with a history that dates back to 1924.
Brothers Michael and Joel O’Brien have been involved since 1989 and have grown the business from six employees to more than 100 through growth and acquisition.

Michael and Joel have always believed that hard work and a commitment to customer service was the key to success for their company. And they have proven that correct. Purchasing an Insty-Prints franchise and merging with Alexander Standard Printing, a commercial printer, gave them the equipment and knowledgable employees to grow to become a Top 5 Printer in Indiana in under 20 years. Since then they have also acquired other local Indianapolis businesses such as Budget Direct Mail and the print division of Marketing Informatics.


Michael and Joel O'BrienJoel and Michael acknowledge that their success at fulfilling the company’s mission is completely dependent upon their employees. “Our most important role is to create an environment in which our employees can work productively and feel appreciated.”

The O’Briens consider hiring and training employees to be one of their most important tasks. It has also been the source of some of their most memorable moments, say the O’Briens who recall the prospective employee who came in and announced that, “there was no need for an interview because she was who they needed and they should just hire her.” Or the interviewee who walked into their office to say that he was going to work for them and he could start on April 23. Both are still with the company. And both are stellar employees.

Printing Partners today is what Susie and John Colombe started it out to be. . .and what Joel and Michael O’Brien have continued. A place to come for professional solutions from people who make you feel like you’re part of the family.


John and Susie ColombeJohn and Susie Colombe opened an Insty-Prints franchise at 3824 S. Madison Ave, Indianapolis, IN.

In 1973 John and Susie Colombe determined a better solution for fast, affordable black and white printing. That year they opened an Insty-Prints franchise in a 900-square-foot space at 3824 Madison Avenue on the south side of Indianapolis. The quick-print industry was in its infancy and Colombes provided the personal attention that nurtured the company’s growth in its early years.


Insty-Prints expanded to include a downtown location at 134 N. Delaware Street

Within three years, Insty-Prints expanded to include a downtown location at 134 N. Delaware Street, which was later moved to 114 N. Delaware. In the early years, the business concentrated on 1- and 2-color printing; and expanding at a later date to include xerographic copying.

Within the next decade, Colombe’s business had grown to include four locations. By 1989, with 7 employees, their operation at 114 N. Delaware had annual revenues of more than $600,000. John credits his wife with their success as he recalls that Susie was “the strength of the business.”


Michael O’Brien purchased the Delaware Street operation from the Colombes.

By 1989, the Colombe’s business had grown to include four locations and their operation at 114 N. Delaware had annual revenues of more than $600,000. John credits his wife for the success as he recalls Susie being, “the strength of the business.”

A quarter century after they had opened their first store, John and Susie Colombe took their first step toward retirement on June 1, 1989 when they sold the Delaware Street operation to Michael O’Brien.

Michael immediately realized he was in need of a partner and turned to his brother, Joel, who was working in Wisconsin at the time. As a favor, Michael had typeset Joel’s resume and recalls telling him, “If I had known you were so qualified, I would have offered you a job.” Joel spent two weeks of vacation working in the company and then returned to Wisconsin to resign his position as an agricultural loan officer.

The sale of Insty-Prints was negotiated over the course of the next two years and was kept confidential until the day before it occurred. John and Susie were both skeptical to turn their “family” over to new owners. They had always maintained that the employees were the company’s greatest asset, and this philosophy was put into action frequently. “Before it was general practice,” says John, “we tried to be flexible with our employees. We thought of them as part of our family.” This of course meant the bonus of receiving your age in dollars on every birthday.

As the “family” has matured, the O’Briens have continued that philosophy by implementing paid maternity and paternity leave as a way to retain employees.


Franchise of the yearThe Delaware location was named “Franchise of the Year” by Insty-Prints corporate office.

The next decade brought continued growth as a result of a strong emphasis on sales and marketing. Joel and Michael pioneered the concept of personal selling, which was unusual in the quick-print market at that time. In 1991, annual sales exceeded $1 million and the following year the company was named “Franchise of the Year.”


Franchise of the yearThe operation had expanded through acquisition to include three locations.

John and Susie continued their roles as mentors, not just to the O’Briens and their employees, but also to their peers. Through the years they earned numerous corporate awards, but the most rewarding was claimed in 1991, when Susie was honored by Insty-Prints, Inc. as “Woman Entrepreneur of the Year.” As a businesswoman, she set the standards for quality that continue at Printing Partners to this day. To accommodate its continued growth, in 1991, Insty-Prints leased adjacent space at 106 N. Delaware Street. By 1995, the operation had expanded through acquisition to include three locations, and it had become the largest multiple-unit Insty-Prints in the world with annual sales of more than $3 million.

From the beginning stages, Joel and Michael divided the responsibilies to cater to each other’s strengths, with Joel focusing on finance, administration and operations while Michael concentrated on sales and marketing aspects of the company. In many ways, their roles mirror those adopted by John and Susie. While Susie and Joel tended to be analytical and disciplined, Michael and John tended to be more creative and more likely than their partners to shoot from the hip. In both cases, the chemistry worked.


Having outgrown its Delaware Street location, the company purchased a building at 929 W. 16th Street and moved into space it shared with Alexander’s Standard Printing.

By 1998, having outgrown its Delaware Street location, the company purchased a building at 929 W. 16th Street and moved into a space it shared with Alexander’s Standard Printing. The move culminated a strategic alliance between the two companies that continued for almost a decade. Dick and Susie Alexander possessed an understanding of the trade that complemented the O’Briens’ marketing and sales perspective. Dating back to 1924, Standard Printing evolved from a letterpress shop into a commercial sheet-fed printer with both 2- and 5-color Heidelberg presses. As mentors, both Alexanders generously shared their knowledge with their new partners.


Insty-Prints franchise was terminated and the company began doing business as Printing Partners.

Shortly after their move, the Insty-Prints franchise was terminated and the company began doing business as Printing Partners. The franchise, and the name associated with it, had become a detriment to a company that was evolving into a commercial printer. That was evidenced in 2000 when a second 5-color Heidelberg was purchased, doubling the company’s 4-color process capacity.


Printing Partners purchased Alexander’s Standard Printing.

In August 2000 the alliance between the two partners was formalized when Printing Partners purchased Alexander’s Standard Printing. The purchase brought together two complementary, but diverse cultures. Blending the two created a stronger, more disciplined team. Many of the Standard employees, including Tim O’Brien and Lenard Brown, had been with the company since the early 1970s. All of them were craftsman and as such they set the quality standard for the new organization.

Throughout the 90s, the pace of technological change quickened. By the beginning of the new millennium, the speed and quality of digital printing had dramatically improved. Offset printing saw the introduction of computer-to-plate technology which eliminated the use of film and the need for conventional stripping. The end result was enhanced quality and faster turn time.


16th Street location expands
The Printing Partners main building underwent major construction, adding some much-needed space to accommodate our ever-expanding divisions. The new space currently houses the shipping & receiving division along with their new loading docks, the outgoing mail division, as well as storage of paper, supplies and customer products waiting for fulfillment.

Installation of two new presses
The installation of our 40-inch press and Kodak NexPress significantly increased our capabilities.

The 40-inch press not only doubled our print size, but also increased quality.

The Kodak NexPress opened the door to digital color, allowing for a more broad range of quantity while also providing the new abilities of printing with dimensional ink and variable data.


Printing Partners becomes a G7® Master Printer G7® is part of IDEAlliance’s industry-leading set of specifications to achieve visual similarity across all print processes.

By adopting the G7® standards, Printing Partners’ clients can be confident that the colors on their printed pieces will have a close visual appearance from proof-to-press and press-to-press.


ISO 9001:2008 Certified!
Printing Partners employees put a lot of time and effort into reorganizing themselves throughout 2010 in anticipation of our ISO certification.

In November, we finally received our ISO certification, pushing us towards our goals of continuous improvement through standardization and sustainability by reducing waste.


Printing Partners is nationally recognized as a supporter of the Arts
The Indianapolis School of Ballet nominated Printing Partners for The BCA 10: Best Companies Supporting the Arts in American for 2011. This award is presented by Americans for the Arts, the nation’s leading nonprofit organization for advancing the arts in America.

In October, Printing Partners graciously accepted the award, which stands proud in our front office today.


Printing Partners gets a face-lift!
Printing Partners took a hard look in the mirror and decided it was time to upgrade its brand image.

Three Sixty Group assisted in the creation of our clean & modern new look.

Along with the rebranding, Partners Marketing was created to expand our services to clients even more with marketing strategies, tactics, design and implementation.


Printing Partners has grown to become one of Indianapolis’ top ten printers with more than 95 employees generating annual revenues of $11+ million from two locations.

While we stand proud in recognition of our success thus far, our mission remains the same: To provide clients personal attention and professional communications solutions.