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Our Story

The night of October 14, 1963 did not bring much sleep to Paul Barnaby Sr.  The next morning, he would sign papers and shake hands with L.A. Vaughn and become the new owner of a California Street (in Sycamore) print shop.  Starting a new business wasn't easy on the nervous system.  Even with 14 years of in-the-field experience.

Mr. Barnaby had been employed at Duplex Products, Inc.  For 14 years, he had progressed from press operator to foreman and finally to printing job planner.  His accrued experience provided him the skills he needed to start a new business.  His energetic ambition gave him the confidence to branch out on his own.

In the early years, Mr. Barnaby's experience and confidence was tested.  He still remembers spreading out the bills on the floor, and he and his wife would decide which ones to pay now and which ones could wait.  Long hours at the shop became a routine.  But Mr. Barnaby's ambition never wavered.

In 1967, only four years later, the growth in business necessitated a move to a larger building at 114 W. State Street in Sycamore.  The larger building created a mortgage payment which was twice what the Barnaby's were used to paying in rent at the original location.  Mrs. Barnaby came up with the idea to offer their printing customers the convenience of being able to purchase office supplies when they came in for their print job.

At first, offering office supplies was just another way of making ends meet. As it turned out this expansion in service created the need to remodel the State Street location.  This was done in 1973.  Expanding to meet their customers needs has been a trademark of the Barnaby's ever since.

During the 1970's Mr. and Mrs. Barnaby's three sons joined the business.  Paul Barnaby Jr. joined the family business in 1972 after a four year stint in the U.S. Air Force.  Steve Barnaby became a partner in 1975.  One year later, Dale Barnaby joined the family business venture.

Each of the sons brought the company added energy.  The business began to grow rapidly.  Months of planning resulted in the purchase of land on Sycamore Road, between DeKalb and Sycamore.  Construction was completed on a 10,000 sq.ft. building in May of 1977.  A very successful open house was held on October 7, 1977.

The Barnaby's philosophy of offering their customers the very best in quality and excellence in service, complete in every way, led to even more rapid expansion.  In May 1984 a new 2500 sq.ft. addition was added to accommodate the installation of a new Heidelberg four color printing press.  In October 1991, a new 12,000 sq.ft. addition was constructed, featuring a new graphics department, a sales office and a larger production area.

The printing business changed over the years.  When Barnaby printing first opened its doors on October 15, 1963, each letter was individually placed on a board and then "pressed" on to the paper.  Soon typesetting machines which produced "galleys" or one continuous strip of text, which was cut and pasted on to copy boards, became the industry standard.  The copy boards were then photographed using a special process camera.  The film was then processed into "plates" that were placed on the printing press.

Since the mid-1980s, "desktop publishing" revolutionized the printing industry.  The desktop computer allowed printers to set type and import graphics on to a single page, viewed entirely on a monitor and then output as a single piece.  This drastically reduced time previously used for cutting and pasting text, "shooting" or photographing graphics and manually composing a page on a drawing table. Desktop publishing systems also allowed printers to output their work directly to film, ready for plate processing.

At first printers were reluctant to accept the imminent boom in desktop publishing.  There were many print shops that did not use the revolutionary systems.  This has created scores of "service bureaus," or businesses fully equipped with desktop publishing systems, that output files for companies who have purchased basic systems but have not invested heavily into output devices.

The most advanced print shops capitalized on the desktop publishing surge.  Few have even taken desktop publishing one step further. "Digital printing" will become the next revolutionary process in the printing industry. Barnaby Printing is among those few.  It is one of the rare print shops in Northern Illinois where a customer can drop off their disk of (Macintosh or PC) and pick up their completely finished printed project in a matter of days.  No need for service bureaus.

Digital printing is an exciting development for Barnaby Printing. The majority of their customers still required help in designing, typesetting and laying out their projects before printing, and they had a full service graphics production department to fill those needs.  A growing number of customers, however, have desktop publishing systems and it is very convenient for them to just bring us their disk or use our Bulletin Board Service.

Barnaby Printing made a commitment to digital printing.  They had complete Macintosh and PC compatible computer systems, fully equipped with almost every desktop publishing software programs imaginable.  They were equipped with the Linotronic 300 output printer, capable of producing 2540 dots per inch on film or RC paper.  Of course they have laser printers for proofing purposes.  They were also equipped with the new Kodak CD system which allows customers to bring in their rolls of film and have them processed on to a compact disc, which can then be imported to almost any software program.

All of their desktop publishing equipment is tied into their state-of-the-art printing equipment.  A Heidelberg four color printing press makes Barnabys very competitively priced in the short to medium run, high quality process color printing.  They have the equipment to cut, fold, collate, trim and bundle almost any project. 

Always changing was very important in the printing business.  In 1995 Barnaby Printing was among the first printers to develope its own website. At that point in time there were only about six printers on the web and Barnabys was one of them. A few years later they installed a digital printing press. Once again among the first in Illinois to purchase this new technology.

Knowing how important it was to our customers to own and understand computers and the Internet, they opened Barnaby Computer and Office Supplies in the Junction Shopping Center in DeKalb. For over 12 years they supplied and serviced computers to almost every business in DeKalb County including NIU and
Kishwaukee College.

After 55 years in business, Barnabys closed its doors.  It was a great run. Among the highlights of those years are the following...

  • Among the first to make film and plates with a digital imagesetter.

  • The first to use soy ink, and they were featured in the Prairie Farmer Magazine.

  • Among the first to use the Internet for e-commerce with Yahoo as their first online customer.

  • Printed Northern Illinois University football and basketball programs for over 30 years.

  • Featured in two nationwide printing journals.

  • Won many printing and marketing awards.

  • Among the first to design websites for businesses.

  • Taught classes for their customers on how to use the Internet and websites, and setting up an in-house network.

Barnaby Inc. is proud of it's accomplishments and grateful for the opportunity to have served so many of you!