The Comeback-Kid: Little Rock Printing
Best of Calgary is a celebration of the people, places and voices that make Calgary an amazing place to live and call home.
Written by: Kelsey Woods
The term ‘comeback-kid’ is defined as: someone who repeatedly demonstrates the propensity to overcome downturns and rebound to success. Little Rock Printing fought tooth and nail to make it through Calgary’s economic hardship, eventually turning into the thriving, successful business that we all know and love today.
Founded by Rick Kroeker in 1994, the company originally began inside of Golder Associates, as Rick worked from his desk selling colour photocopies from a Xerox machine that he purchased himself. As the company gained momentum, Rick expanded his services to also include document printing. From names like Little Rock Drafting Services and Little Rock Colour Copies, the company continued to evolve and finally landed on the name Little Rock Printing, as their range of services offered continued to grow.
Jumping forward, Rick passed off the presidency to his son Brian in 2012 after years and years of hard work and dedication to the business. Brian, who actually drew the company’s first logo and gave it to Rick as a Christmas gift, had always been involved with the business in some capacity from a young age. In 2014 with approximately 600 local clients, the company invested in a brand-new signage division, ready to launch a new side of their business when they were hit hard with the downtown. From 2014-2016, Little Rock struggled to cover costs as neighbouring businesses around them shut down and thousands of people were laid off from their jobs. However, they pushed and made it through, stronger than ever as they used the time to rebuild. Reaching their highest sales to date in 2018, Little Rock now provides printing services to 3,800 local Calgary businesses, like Sunterra, WestJet, Wildrose Brewery and Village Brewery just to name a few.
While attempting to summarize Little Rock Printing’s successes and struggles over the past 25 years, no one can do it better than the president himself. Let’s hear how Brian came to run and grow his father’s company, even in the toughest times.
Are you a born and raised Calgarian?
Yes I was born and raised in Woodlands.
What was your dream job growing up? How has this influenced who you are today?
I always dreamed of being a sports commentator for hockey games – I thought I would have a great voice for it! Instead, I worked in plenty of bars and restaurants over the years, understanding how businesses worked and the numbers that came along with ordering and selling. I also worked for a phone service provider for six months, proving to me that I cannot sell something that can’t be done on time. I was always part of Little Rock throughout the years and my time away at these other companies allowed me to appreciate what we have here - a small, reliable company full of hardworking, honest people.
What is your favourite thing about Calgary?
I truly love everything about this city: the history, the casual work life, all of the friendly business owners, the big-city-but-small-town-feel. Everyone here is smart, loyal and sticks around.
If you could describe Calgary in one word, what would it be?
What does being a Calgarian mean to you?
I am so proud to call this city home, but it’s been hard to see so many friends who work in trades struggle in the last few years with the economic downturn. The beauty of Calgary is that we can truly accomplish anything once we get going, so I admire the people who can look past what we used to have and work towards what we want for the future.
Do you have a favourite watering hole in Calgary?
Ranchmans was definitely my old favourite bar - I met my wife there in 2011. However, I now enjoy going to 1600 in Glenmore Landing. This place holds a lot of significance for me since a group of us always went there with an old friend who has since passed away.
What is your favourite Calgary event/ activity or thing to do?
I will watch a Calgary Flames game anywhere, anytime - whether at the Saddlehome, a friend’s house or the closest bar. Even as a young kid running around the house, I would stop in front of the TV to watch the Flames take on any team.
Where is the best place to people watch in Calgary?
My family and I now live on an acreage outside of Okotoks so that we can enjoy the quiet countryside after we leave work. There is minimal people-watching out there and we’re ok with that!
If you were an emoji, what emoji would you be?
The smiley emoji, of course.
Tell us about your business, what motivates you to do what you do every day?
For the past seven years as president of the company, I have tried to create and maintain a fun, positive company culture by hiring people who love the work we do. If a mistake is made, this is a team effort and we fix it together. We were hit hard by the downtown but it allowed us to regroup and rebuild. Now sales are better than ever and we couldn’t be happier with where we are today.
Anything special coming up we should know about?
2019 is actually our 25th year of business, so we are very excited to share this milestone with our local Calgary community. The Business Development Bank of Canada is also shooting a short story on us this spring so if you’d like to hear more about our comeback story, stay tuned!
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Little Rock Printing is a proud supporter of Best of Calgary.
Kelsey Woods is the Content & Editorial Manager for Best of Calgary.