Exceeding expectations for 100 years
It all began in 1919 with three men who shared a common passion for delivering high-quality work and superior service. With just $4,000 between them, they acted on that passion and opened up a small production shop in Cincinnati, Ohio and named it Phototype Engraving. The rest, as they say, is history…
Birth of Phototype Engraving Inc
Founding members were Ed Lemker (shown here), George Maier and Otto Busch. With just $4,000 between them, they opened shop in the Atlas Bank Building in Cincinnati, OH. The company soon became incorporated in the State of Ohio and was one of the first businesses in the region to use revolutionary photo-etching techniques.
Business is booming
Phototype moved to a larger facility at 214 East Ninth Street. In those early days, daily operations included photographing type, etching the type in metal, mounting it on wood and printing from the mounted plate.
Enter the 2nd generation
Ed Lemker’s nephew, Dick Olberding (right), joined as an apprentice cameraman/salesman and helped manage the company with his uncle following the retirement of George Maier (and the earlier passing of Otto Busch). Ed became sole owner of Phototype, having acquired George’s shares at his retirement.
Dick Olberding (2nd from the right) purchased 50% of Ed’s shares. A year later, Dick’s brother-in-law, Bob Scheid (far right), left the Army and joined Phototype as lead salesman. Ed Lemker would later gift his remaining shares to Bob and Dick, leaving them with company ownership of 25% and 75%, respectively.
Procter & Gamble becomes a client
The company rented an adjoining floor at 216 East Ninth Street, to better accommodate a prospective client, Procter & Gamble. They saw potential in Phototype’s services, and negotiations for their mat and proof contracts ensued. With a growing number of accounts, Phototype invested in its first offset press, a 29" Harris Press, and a few multiliths, and created a co-company called Parr Printing to handle the expanding number of proofs needed.
Move into Baldwin Piano Building
During this pivotal year, Phototype acquired Art Craft Engraving, an award-winning printing and brand management company. This key merger included Cincinnati Process, a key regional player in prepress. Phototype now needed more space and took over half a floor in the famous Baldwin Piano Building, once home to the largest piano production company in the United States. Carl Ford (J.W. Ford Co.) and Paul Gosiger (former owner of the Schultz-Gosiger Photo Engraving Company) came to work for Phototype.
Enter the 3rd generation
Dick Olberding’s son, Steve (left), joined Phototype as a customer service representative after earning his B.A. in Marketing from Miami University. He quickly learned the business and eventually took on other roles including office manager, sales representative and sales manager. The next year, Phototype purchased two buildings on Gilbert Avenue which were rented out for several years.
A new home
Dick Harrison, V.P. at Baldwin Piano, notified Phototype that the Baldwin Building would soon be renovated into an office complex, forcing the company to find a new home, yet again. Phototype purchased a building at 2144 Florence Avenue and relocated.
The 3rd generation expands
Dick Olberding’s youngest son, David, joined the company and opened up a photography division called PhotoArt. This was the first digital photography studio in the region. Around this time, Dick Olberding purchased Bob Scheid’s remaining 25% stake in the company to become the sole owner of Phototype.
Expanding to Columbus
David Olberding opened Phototype’s second manufacturing facility in Columbus, OH. The company began shifting more of its focus toward packaging solutions — a move that opened up new opportunities and would help define the future.
75 years young
When Phototype turned 75 years old, Dick Olberding (center) announced that his sons, Steve (left) and David (right), would become the future CEOs. Additional milestones included the retirement of Bob Scheid and a renewed contract with consumer goods powerhouse, Procter & Gamble.
Flexo platemaking facility
Phototype opened a state-of-the-art, flexo platemaking facility on Gilbert Avenue in Cincinnati. Even today, this world-class plateroom (now on Florence Avenue) utilizes some of the most advanced platemaking technology available and adopts cutting edge practices/machines to best serve clients.
Time for a facelift
Renovation and expansion of real estate holdings on Gilbert Avenue began and is completed in October 2003—unveiling Phototype’s new headquarters. The Company also announced its NuDot® screening innovation, a proprietary flexographic screening technology.
The birth of Gravity
Coach House Design, the precursor design studio since 2000, sets the stage for the launch of a premier brand consultancy and package design studio, Gravity. Located next door to the flagship office in Cincinnati, Gravity has risen to a multi-million dollar design firm in a short amount of time.
Beginning to branch out
Over the next few years, a number of locations are strategically opened to better meet the needs of an expanding client base. Domestically, offices are eventually opened in Fayetteville, AR, and Appleton, WI. Internationally, production offices are later opened in the United Kingdom and China, expanding the company’s global capabilities.
Enter the 4th generation
Steve Olberding’s daughter, Jen (center), joined the company shortly after earning her B.S. in Graphic Communications from Clemson University. She is later followed by her brothers. Chris (left) joined full-time in 2012 after earning his B.S. in Graphic Communications & Business Administration from Clemson University. Anthony (right) joined full-time in 2017 after earning his B.S. in Business Management from Northern Kentucky University.
Getting bigger in Texas
Phototype opened an additional production facility in Dallas, TX, to better meet the needs of clients like Church & Dwight and Pinnacle Foods. During the same year, Phototype entered into a new, collaborative partnership with Hershey and opened an innovative 3D render studio in its Columbus, OH, office.
At the top
Phototype reaches 260 employees and is recognized regionally as an Enquirer Media Top Workplace for 2014. Sadly, Phototype also said goodbye to Dick Olberding (its patriarch for 63 years) but his vision lives on in the leadership and family spirit of the company… a company that is certainly poised for future growth.
Best Workplaces Industry Award
Phototype was named a Best Workplace in the Americas by the Printing Industries of America. Our award entry was reviewed by and ultimately awarded to Phototype by a panel of highly respected Human Resource professionals with decades of experience in the graphic arts industry.