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Taking the High Road – to N.J. When it lost its Manhattan digs, print shop took advantage of incentives to cross Hudson

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Hallie Satz was concerned High Road Press would lose customers when it moved from Manhattan to North Jersey. So far, that hasn’t happened.
Hallie Satz was concerned High Road Press would lose customers when it moved from Manhattan to North Jersey. So far, that hasn’t happened. - ()

When Hallie Satz learned that she would be losing her ninth-floor office space in Manhattan — her company's home since it was founded in 2004 — she first looked to New York's outer boroughs for a new space. The city was prepared to offer her significant incentives to set up her printing business, High Road Press, in Brooklyn or Queens.

Then New Jersey stepped into the mix.

The State Department's Business Action Center outlined for Satz what she could get by crossing the Hudson, rather than the East River — from lower real estate costs to some $300,000 in state money that would be paid to Satz over the next 10 years.

“They made (the decision) easy,” Satz said. “The Business Action Center seemed excited to have us in New Jersey. The whole thing is timing.”

Her building in Manhattan was slated for redevelopment and was forcing her out; Satz said the company also had outgrown its 24,000-square-foot space. After nine years, it was time to start expanding the business, both in terms of its physical footprint and in the scope of its work. So she brought in a crane to haul away High Road's printing press, and brought all but two employees — who decided not to tag along — to Moonachie, where it reopened for business July 1.

“(Our proposal) met their needs,” said Anthony Szymelewicz, a business advocate for the state's Business Action Center.

“We reiterated to them we don't leave you once you're here,” he said.

High Road Press is a high-end printer whose clients include Bloomingdale's, Novartis, Pfizer, MetLife, Verizon and New York Life. When Satz made the decision to move to New Jersey, she went all in, investing nearly $1 million in building out the 38,000-square-foot facility and planning on hiring 15 people within the next 18 months.

She also intends to expand the business. She wants to grow the company's existing integrated printing options, which provide customers with printed products as well as versions that can go online, to increase the company's print-on-demand capacity and to bring the shipping arm of its direct-mail business in house.

Satz fretted about whether the company could hold onto its client base with a New Jersey address. In fact, it has allowed them to increase the amount of work they do with Benjamin Moore, the paint giant based in Montvale.

“It's been a very positive move for the company,” Satz said.

Satz comes from a family of printers, though she never thought she'd go into the family business.

Her grandfather and his brothers started Barton Press in 1922, in West Orange. The company was then passed down through the generations before being sold to EarthColor in 1997.

By that point, Satz had given up on the idea of going into social work — her first passion — and was addicted to the printing business. She had worked her way up through sales and was asked to serve as president of the new, combined company after the sale of Barton Press.

While Barton was all about family, EarthColor was all about business. She stayed with the new company for seven years before deciding to launch a company that blended the best of both worlds — pairing the humane work culture of a family business with the hard-line financial focus of an investor-owned company.

The result is High Road Press, which last year won its first gold Sappi Printer of the Year award for its catalog work. Its employees crank out everything from short-run books to packaging to marketing brochures.

Before the permits were off the doors of High Road's Moonachie facility, Lt. Gov. Kim Guadagno stopped by to meet with Satz and tour the company's new headquarters. That kind of attention — plus the ongoing support from the BAC — has made the million-dollar move worth the expense.

“You put in that kind of money, we're looking to stay. We're not just looking to get money from the state,” she said. “We have a stake the game, too.”

E-mail to: maryj@njbiz.com
On Twitter: @mjohns422

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