Menu

Our Company History | Learn about the birth of Cedar Graphics and Commercial Printing in Cedar Rapids.

Cedar Graphics Printing History


Humble beginnings...


...H. K. hit the roof when he saw the printing operation in his back storeroom...

In 1955, Charlie Igram and Bill Hutchings started a printing company in the back of the family grocery store while the owner, H. K. Igram, traveled overseas. Charlie founded what was FHC Printing Company, formed by Bill Hutchings, Tony Fontana and Fred Clarkson. Upon his return from travel, H. K. hit the roof when he saw the printing operation in his back storeroom. Charlie and Bill were forced to frantically look for a new home for the print shop. They found space near downtown Cedar Rapids on the corner of 1st Street and 1st Avenue SW and proceeded to move to the new location. The company was renamed Igram Press.


Cedar Graphics History


Charlie was the sales person garnering clients and bringing in work, and Bill ran the operation. They each operated whatever equipment was necessary to get jobs out on time for their growing customer base. As the business grew, they hired skilled craftsmen and gained a reputation for quality and fast service. There had been a void in the area for a quality printer, and Igram Press was filling that void quickly.

Growth through Partnership


In 1963, Charlie was approached by Carl Wagner, CEO of Wagner’s Printers, who wanted a sales and manufacturing presence in Cedar Rapids. Charlie, who saw this as a good opportunity to go out on top, sold out to Wagner. Bill Hutchings stayed on and was Wagner’s top salesperson for many more years.

After stints in the feed, insurance, and restaurant business, Charlie again had an opportunity to get back into printing in 1979. This time it would be with an old friend, H. Pierce Alexander, who would head up sales as a print broker. They named the business Allied Business Forms and began to service the real estate industry providing continuous forms, letterheads, envelopes and business cards.

As that business grew, an opportunity to purchase another printing company surfaced. Allied Business Forms was doing business with Bernard J. Taymons and his company Laurance Press. This company was composed of three smaller entities: The Rall Company, Athens Press, and Laurance. Mr. Taymons, originally from Maryland, desired to move back east and trusted Charlie with the future of his company.


For a mere $100, Taymons transferred the businesses to Charlie, stayed around a brief time to complete the transition, and headed back to Maryland. However, there was more to the transaction than just a small transfer of cash, including issues to work out in order to keep the businesses viable.

Economics of Green Printing

Of course, being the shrewd entrepreneur that he was, Charlie saw a gold mine. Like a cash register, his mind rang up the raw materials: lead, scrap film, and aluminum plates, which he recycled into cash to use as operating capital and to pay off debt. He brought in an old friend, Art Gray, to run the operation.

Like a cash register, his mind rang up the raw materials: lead, scrap film, and aluminum plates, which he recycled into cash...

Charlie then negotiated with the landlord and made a deal with the City of Cedar Rapids to pay for moving the business to another location. The city planned to tear down the building in order to construct a new ground transportation center. During this transition, Hassan Igram (Charlie’s son) joined the company to gain a better understanding of the business’ potential.


Hassan viewed printing as a combination of art, science, manufacturing, and service.

Shortly after the move, Charlie desired to sell the business, but since joining him in the spring of 1980, Hassan would not allow it and Art backed him up. Having a fine arts background, Hassan viewed printing as a combination of art, science, manufacturing, and service. In fact, it was much more than that to him. There was a little chemistry, creative use of raw materials, precise engineering and job planning, vivid color reproduction, the challenge of making the sale, and the joy of a customer’s satisfaction. This was also an industry which he see as a family business for several generations to come.

Family Printing Tradition Continues...

After purchasing the company from Charlie in 1983, Hassan took on a few partners. In 1986, he changed the name to Cedar Graphics and eventually bought the partners out in 1989. Charlie stayed involved with the business until 2001 when his health no longer allowed him to work. Still, printing occupied his mind often, and he stayed in touch with Cedar employees to keep abreast of day-to-day happenings. Charlie was well respected by all of those who knew him and was a great resource of support and knowledge. On May 26th, 2009, Charlie passed away leaving behind Yusra, his wife of 56 years, 6 children, 25 grandchildren and 5 great-grandchildren.

Cedar Graphics strives to reflect Charlie’s dedication daily and celebrate his life by continuing his vision.

Cedar Graphics History
Background Color:
 
Background Pattern:
Reset