More information from the firm named COPI

Published 10:55 am Friday, June 18, 2010

For the columns and articles I create for the Tribune, my sources of information are based on several sources. One is based on old news articles in the Tribune. Another comes from various people involved with or have reliable knowledge about the specific topic being researched. Still another interesting source I use from time to time are old copies of the city directories that have been published during the last century. However, I should add right here that the information from the city directories is just approximate and may be off by a year or two. And one of the very best sources for information right now is local historical researcher Kevin Savick.

An excellent example of Kevin’s contributions to my columns and articles is with added details to go with the series based on photos from the 1940s and ‘50s taken by a former resident, the late Robert Church. Kevin found three Tribune articles that help to more accurately provide details about the local business started by Church.

In part four of the series in the Sunday Lifestyles section on June 13 was a statement promising information about the third and present location for what’s now known as COPI, Church Offset Printing Inc. However, additional space was needed to explain more about the visits by two presidential candidates in 1948 and again in 1952. Thus, some of the details intended for the June 20 issue are going to be in this column instead.

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Information from Kevin says Church Lithograph moved from West College Street to 233 E. Clark St., (the former American Gas Machine building) in June 1955.

In 1962 two employees, Dan Kruse and LeRoy Ophaug, purchased the firm from Robert Church and soon changed the name to the present COPI designation.

The city took over the former American Gas Machine building in 1965 to convert the property into a new city center and library. As a result, COPI relocated to its present site at 1731 Margaretha Ave. in what was then called the Jobs Industrial Park.

A Tribune article dated March 31, 1967, found and contributed by Kevin says COPI is “ a continuation of one of the earliest offset printing companies in Minnesota. It began in the 1930s … (and) first started operations in the basement of Trades Publishing Co.”

Trades Publishing Co. was then located in the brick building which is still at the corner of South Washington Avenue and West Main Street.

This same article says Fay Childs was the person who started the offset printing process in the city. It was reportedly the second venture of this type in the state. Two of his original employees were Irvin Sorenson (creator of the Tribune’s “Hi-Lites and Shadows” illustrated features) and Robert Church.

Within a few years this printing operation was acquired by the Tribune, then purchased by Church who started what has now evolved into COPI.

Now, just what is offset printing? This same 1967 article provided by Kevin tried to explain the concept with this explanation:

“Offset printing, or offset lithography, is a comparatively new printing process. It is basically a photographic process which allows greater variety and greater freedom for the commercial artist in the preparation of printed pieces, since anything which can be photographed can be reproduced by the offset process. The printing plates are a light-sensitive metal which transfers or offsets the ink onto a rubber cylinder which in turn offsets the ink onto the paper.”

Right about here I’d like to thank Richard Church of Salt Lake City, Utah, for sending his father’s photos that became the basis for a five-part Tribune series. Next on the list is Mike Kruse, president of COPI, for sending these photos to the Tribune. Also, special thanks go to Linda Evenson of the Freeborn County Historical Museum for processing the photos for publication. Also on the list is Kevin Savick for the additional details about COPI and offset printing.

Ed Shannon’s column has been appearing in the Tribune every Friday since December 1984.