PAPER PEOPLE Personalized products, personalized service to keep a century-old company up to date
Nicknamed by its directors as “The Original Dunder Mifflin”, the story of Paterson Papers also reads as a sitcom pilot.
According to Genie, Michael and Cynthia Prell, their great-grandfather bought a paper cart business in 1914 for his three sons in order to prevent them from joining the traveling circus.
Only one remained.
Today, 101 years later, her three grandchildren are the distributor of fine paper products, envelopes, stationery, inks and printing room supplies through Paterson Papers.
“We have always been in Paterson – one of the earliest planned industrial cities in the United States – and I am proud that we are one of the oldest companies here,” said Genie Prell Weisz.
This is because it is a historic company that is not afraid to reinvent itself.
In 1987, Prell Weisz joined his brother Michael Prell, now president of Paterson Papers, in the family business as president of The Paper Store & More, its cash-and-carry retail division.
Today, The Paper Store & More has three branches, in Paterson, East Hanover and Kenilworth.
“We are a paper specialist who can meet any paper need,” said Prell Weisz.
This means that if you need paper or prints, whatever your business – from commercial printers to hospitals to religious organizations – Paterson Papers and The Paper Store & More can provide it for you.
But many of the company’s 40 employees have been there for 20 years or more, which means it might be time to start thinking about the future again.
“As more and more paper merchants close, I hope to attract more talent,” Prell said.
This is one of the pitfalls of running a paper business in a tech-savvy world where anyone can become a printer.
“Due to incredible barriers in the market, such as the Internet and consolidation, printing demands have changed,” said Prell.
“But we have been consistent.”
So how did the business survive when so many others failed?
It’s simple: Paterson Papers has over 100 years of business and customer service experience.
“In this automated world, all people get is ‘Press 1, press 2’ – we’re friendly voices answering the phone,” Prell said.
And, when one door closes, Michael opens another, said Cynthia Prell, director of special projects.
“Michael was particularly good at differentiating our services,” she said. “Whether it’s custom die-cutting, punching, punching or whatever, we can meet needs that aren’t always long-term print jobs.
“If you need 1,000 pieces two by four, we can get you what you want as quickly as possible. “
Between its ability to take smaller orders, its cash-and-carry division, and its e-commerce site, Paterson Papers has certainly found the right niche markets.
“We own everything without any bank loans,” said Michael Prell. “We finance everything internally.
But while business has tripled since the 1980s, Prell would only describe the last few years as stable.
That’s why he’s always thinking about creative ways to reinvent the business.
“I would like to look to buy a business similar to ours to expand our distribution capabilities,” said Prell.
“We distribute paper, but with the trucks that we have going out every day, we could also distribute other products. “
Does this mean the end of the paper?
“People still use envelopes and printed materials to market in addition to email,” Prell said.
“And the paper you print on is just as important as what you print,” said Prell Weisz.
Biz in short
Companies: Paterson Papers and The Paper Store & More
Based: 1914; 1987
In 1987, Genie Prell Weisz was in between projects as an artistic agent assistant when her future husband made a good point:
“He said, ‘You are so lucky to have a family business to work for, why don’t you work there?’ I had always resisted the idea until he said that, ”said Prell Weisz.
When she approached her father, however, there was simply no room for her at Paterson Papers. So he tasked Genie with creating the company’s new retail division, The Paper Store & More.