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Nussmeier Engraving History

Nussmeier's designs and manufactures letterheads, envelopes, business cards, presentation folders, report covers, mailing labels, business notes and thank you cards, business announcements and invitations, holiday and greeting cards, sales and marketing brochures, booklets and business forms. Nussmeiers offers a complete design service. Our creative artists design 90% of our production. Our product line incorporates the following processes: engraving, embossing, foil stamping, printing, die cutting and folding/gluing.

In 1916 an enterprising 17 year old with one year of high school founded the company. Harry Nussmeier worked as an apprentice engraver for $4.00 per week in a one-man department of a small print shop in town. After a number of months and six weeks behind in pay, Harry's boss offered to sell him the operation and use the six weeks back pay as a down payment. Harry had no money, no accounts and no other prospects for a job so he decided to take the offer for which he received a small hand press, some ink and a little paper stock.

Harry was scheduled to be drafted into the army during WW I on November 11, 1918, the day the war ended. Harry's older brother Oscar soon after, returned from France with $400 mustering out pay. Business was picking up and capital was needed. Oscar with his $400 was welcomed in as a partner. Old bills were paid and a down payment on their first motorized press was made.

In 1933, during the heart of the Depression, the Peoples Bank offered the Nussmeier boys a three story, four-year-vacant building. The owner was way behind making mortgage payments. The offer was to buy the building at 23 S.E. Second St and the bank would loan additional money for remodeling. The company was to move in and pay only their present three-room rent as a monthly mortgage payment. It was a good deal and showed The People's Bank officers must have felt the Nussmeier Brothers were going to succeed in their business venture. Nussmeier Engraving Company had a new home.

During the Depression (l929-1939), the business lost money ten years in a row. The two brothers refinanced their homes and borrowed to the limit on their life insurance. Many weeks their four employees took home more than Harry and Oscar, but the business kept running and they kept their trained craftsmen together. Louie and Jim, the second generation, often wonder if they would have had the confidence, faith in the future and the guts to stay in a business loosing money ten years in a row. All this time the company was developing skilled crafts people who were producing top quality graphic arts products.

Dec. 7, 1941, WW II rationing started and many restrictions of supplies were imposed on non-vital industries. They had trouble getting paper, so they started producing boxed engraved stationery to be sold in Army and Air Force PX installations. This move allowed them more access to paper by being a government contractor. The war years brought the country and the company out of the ten-year depression and enabled the brothers to pay off most of their debt.

Jim Nussmeier started working for his dad Oscar and his Uncle Harry in 1943 for l0 cents per hour. He was in the eighth grade and became what they called a Printers Devil, cleaning ink fountains, presses and doing general shop work. Louie Nussmeier, Jim's younger brother, started as a Printers Devil in 1947. The Korean War drafted both brothers and in 1955 they were discharged within seven months of each other. Returning home both Jim and Louie became full time employees.

In 1966 Nussmeier Engraving Company received a condemnation letter from the Riverside Redevelopment Commission to make way for a more modern and progressive downtown Evansville. Two years later they bought the property at their present location 933 Main Street at Sycamore, remodeled the building and added a two-story addition. In 1968 Nussmeier Engraving Co. moved from a three floor old building to a modern 16,000 sq ft new home. Rent increased to four times more a year than the old quarters. They were praying the move would be a blessing in disguise.

By 1970 the second generation of Nussmeiers, Louie and Jim, had completed an orderly transition of management. Family businesses are different than regular partnerships or companies. There were differences of opinion and arguments, but no one ever went home mad. They are still best friends.

Today a third generation of Nussmeiers, David - Jim's son and Steve- Louies's son, have taken over management and ownership of the company. David started in 1977 after graduating from Purdue's Krannert School of Management and Steve in 1986 after graduating from the Murray State School of Printing Management. Louie and Jim are proud to see them carry on the Nussmeier heritage and their long term plans for another 90 years.

The company has won a number of awards during its 90 years in business. Among some of the more prestigious are the Cronite cups, the Benny trophies and numerous awards from their trade association the International Engraved Graphics Association.

Cronite, a global producer and distributor of engraving equipment and supplies, established an award in 1952 for the best engraved letterhead in North America. The prize, a large Mexican silver bowl, would travel from winning company to winning company until it was won three times, then the Cronite cup would permanently retire to that company. By 1965 Nussmeiers had retired two cups. Then Cronite changed the rules so that 5 wins were required before retaining the cup permanently. By 1992 Nussmeiers earned the rights to the third cup and by 2004 were permanent owner of the fourth Cronite cup. They are the only company in the North American contest to have retired a Cronite Cup, having won 17 times since the contest inception 54 years ago.

Nussmeiers has won annual Best of Category Benny Award 5 times since they started entering this contest 10 years ago. The award is a l0 inch statue of Ben Franklin, who is the graphic arts patron saint, and a plaque presented by Printing Industries of America.

Nussmeier Engraving Co. has been a strong supporter of a number of trade associations particularly the International Engraved Graphics Association. Members of the company have served on Committees, Boards and as Officers. Harry Nussmeier was a two-year president 1958-60 and Jim Nussmeier was two- year president 1977-79. Through the years, Nussmeiers has been fortunate to win numerous awards in IEGA's annual contest including best of show 5 out of the last 21 years.

Much of the company's progress and reputation for quality products must be credited to their past and present dedicated and experienced loyal associates. Nussmeiers has very little employee turnover. Their first apprentice pressman started working for Harry at 14 years of age, just a boy still wearing short pants. Later he became the outside salesman and worked for the company all his life. Their self-taught master engraver, Harry's boyhood neighbor and friend, worked 63 years for the company. The last number of years he was semi-retired.

Today Nussmeier Engraving Co. customers are located nationwide and abroad. Many of their customers come through referrals and word of mouth, the best salesperson. The company is a third generation family business with 30 employees who has earned a reputation for producing the highest quality graphic arts products. They can greatly enhance their client's image by creating distinctive designs, combining timeless craftsmanship with contemporary technology and using the most effective processes to create the desired results.

Founder Harry Nussmeier coined the Nussmeier motto - "Quality is the only excuse we have for being in business." The constant pursuit of quality has helped keep them in business the past 90 years.

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