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Born on October 19th, 1904, Company founder Elmer Bredensteiner began his working life early. While still in grade school Elmer delivered groceries on his bicycle in his hometown of Norwood Ohio. In 1920, upon graduating from the 8th grade, Elmer went to work as a pressroom apprentice at the U.S. Playing Card Company. There he met his wife Elizabeth who was a card inspector at the plant. When workers at the U.S. Playing card Company went on strike, Elmer headed to New York City to learn the new offset lithography printing process. At that time, people who were skilled in offset lithography were in great demand.
In 1926, with his newfound skills, Elmer moved to Indianapolis, Indiana to become the pressroom foreman at the William B. Burford Printing Company. There he oversaw the third-floor lithography department. Elmer worked for Burford’s until 1941, when he and the company’s top salesman, Morris Jacobs, decided to start their own printing company. Morris would handle the sales and Elmer would oversee production.
On December 1, 1941 Elmer and Morris opened Success Printing and Lithography Company. Unfortunately, a week later the United States became involved in World War II. Due to the war, a printers three most important raw materials, paper, metal plates and film, were rationed by the government and therefore very hard to come by. Success Printing was able to secure the job of printing the invasion maps for the United States Army Map Service. Security at the shop was tight, every night the maps were nailed into crates, taken away and all waste sheets were burned. After the war. Success printing employed returning servicemen as pressroom apprentices, many of which became press operators that worked for Elmer for several years.
After graduating from Butler University with a Business Administration degree, Elmer’s son Jim went to work for Success Printing in 1950. Jim started out running proofs to customers and with his accounting background, he began doing cost studies and the employee payroll for the company. Elmer’s son Roy started working for Success Printing in the summer of 1959. Roy began his career by delivering the company’s printing jobs in a 1954 Cadillac.
In September of 1959, Elmer left Success Printing to begin forming a printing company of his own. For six months Elmer brokered printing jobs out of his house. With Roy back in school, Jim would load up his car with blank paper in the morning drop it off at other local printers, then would pick up the finished jobs at the end of the day. Roy was able to help by doing layout and pasteup work at home after school in between homework assignments.
During the fall and winter of 1959-1960, Elmer began to buy the equipment he needed to run his own shop. The first press purchased was a Harris EL 23 x 35 inch (sheet size) offset press. Next was a Harris LSG 46 x 68 offset press and a Harris LB 42 x 58-inch offset press. That was followed by a large format paper cutter and a folder to process the printed sheets. Many of the press operators that worked for Elmer at Success Printing wanted to work for him at his new company. So, he had his workforce in place.
On April 1st, 1960 Elmer opened Bredensteiner and Associates printing company at 1033 Fayette Street at the North end of the Downtown Canal. The building was owned by The Hendren Printing Company. Hendren Printing specialized in the older letterpress printing process. The two companies worked well together. While operating separately both companies were able to offer their customers expanded services from one location. Jim, Roy and Elmer’s youngest son Bob spent the first few months cleaning and painting the building’s interior and cleaning the newly acquired machinery.
Business was good at first with lots of political work, however once the fall election had passed the shop was left with several highly skilled employees, top quality presses and little work Elmer then took on the role of salesman. With Elmer’s expertise, determination and infectious personality, sales began to pick back up.
In 1961, Bob Bredensteiner became a press feeder apprentice and in 1965, Roy Bredensteiner became a stripper apprentice, and Jim Bredensteiner became company treasurer and helped Elmer with the customer service.
Bredensteiner & Associates printed for a wide range of commercial customers, The City of Indianapolis and even other local printers. Some of the Jobs included drug packaging, school textbooks, history maps and flat sheets that were later formed into globes. For several years in the 1960’s and 1970’s, Bredensteiner & Associates printed the Indiana state highway maps. This led to the purchase of a large Miehle 52 x 76-inch two color press. Gradually, smaller offset presses were added to accommodate the growing workload and the demand for smaller items such as letterheads, envelopes and business forms.
In the early 1970’s Bredensteiner & Associates began to take over the letterpress operation of Hendren Printing and eventually bought the company in 1974. In 1982. Bredensteiner & Associates bought Shield Press, a manufacturer of hand bound bank register books. Bredensteiner still produces a full line of bank register books today.
As the printing business began to evolve into a more technology driven industry, education became increasingly important. The third generation of Bredensteiners brought not only the experience of growing up in the business but brought college degrees as well. Gregg Bredensteiner brought a Printing Management degree from Indiana State and a Law Degree from Indiana University. Carl Bredensteiner, an Accounting degree from Indiana University. John Bredensteiner a Telecommunications Degree from Indiana University, Lisa Bredensteiner a Physical Therapy Degree from Indiana University, Jeff Bredensteiner a fine Arts Degree from Ball State University and Kurt Bredensteiner a Public and Environmental Affairs Degree from Indiana University.
As the third generation began to work for the company many technological advances have taken place. In the early 1980’s Bredensteiner & Associates was the first printing company in Indianapolis to purchase a digital typesetter. At the cost of $35,000 Bredensteiner & Associates bought a Linotype CRTronic. The CRTronic was purchased specifically to typeset the names of candidates on the paper strips inserted into the mechanical lever voting machines used by Marion County. Carl Bredensteiner and Lisa Bredensteiner operated the difficult system that would set type but could not produce graphics. That was followed by the first Postscript machine, the Linotype L100.
In 1993, as the company ownership shifted from the first to second generation, combined with the changing technology, the company name was changed to Bredensteiner Imaging Incorporated.
In 1999, as the city began to develop the Downtown Canal, the business was moved about a mile up the canal to its current location at 1920 Or. Martin Luther King Jr. Street. Bredensteiner Imaging Incorporated is located in a state-of-the-art building built specifically for the company. As the company now moves to the third generation, Bredensteiner Imaging Incorporated currently operates a high-tech computer to plate pre-press system, top quality printing presses, modern bindery equipment, as well as high speed color and black and white digital presses. In recent years, the company has expanded in to large format printing of signs and banners as well. The company’s goal today is the same as it was in the beginning, to provide excellent customer service and to be able to take care of all the customer’s printing needs in one location.