Sesquicentennial Feature


By Scott Leslie


Mike Burtnik has seen his share of changes over the years. 

The president and co-owner of Burtnik Printing Inc. in St. Catharines grew up in a time when "cut and paste" had nothing to do with a computer and the old printing presses often had two speedsslow and slower. 

Flash forward to 2017, however, and Mike’s commercial printing business has seen the technology grow by leaps and bounds and built up a sterling reputation for its vibrant colours, dazzling speed and printing expertise. 

The result? A family legacy that has spanned six decades and thousands of satisfied customers. 

ì"We talk with our customers and figure out the best way to serve them," Mike says. "We have the processes and the technologies in place to see them through from start to finishand they really appreciate that. In today’s online world, we pride ourselves with meeting our customers face to face and using our extensive equipment and skilled staff to produce over 90% of the work right here under our roof."


A Family Tradition

Burtnik Printing Inc. is a full-service commercial printer that provides a complete range of print and copy solutionseverything from digital and offset printing to bindery and digital prepress services. The Burtnik Printing team can help with any print projects including menus, calendars, stationery, flyers, custom labels, brochures and wide format banners and posters.

The Burtnik success story all began back in 1957 with Mike’s father Mel, an expert designer and artist. Mel wanted to put his creative skills to good use and began doing some small print jobs for local merchants and individual customers. 

Mel developed his new business part-time, designing things like brochures and wedding invitations in the evenings and on weekends. He started out small but his customers grew to love his dependability and the high quality of his work. By 1974, his modest business had grown substantially, and Mel decided to launch Burtnik Fine Printing as a full-time operation. He and his wife Anne purchased their first storefront location at 74 Queenston Street in St. Catharines that same year.

But there were more changes to come. 

In 1978, Mel brought Mike on board full-time after his son graduated from high school. Mike was no newcomer to the printing industry. When he was growing up, he’d often hear about the print business around the dinner table and began working for his father after school and on weekends in 1976.

Mike says it took a few years for him to become accustomed to his father’s business and figure out his approach. 

"When I started, I was very concerned with trying to grow the business,"îhe says. "I was thinking’This is my livelihood. I need to make more money.’ But my dad told me not to worry about it. He said, ’Take care of our customers and everything will fall into place.’and he was right."

As the years passed, the father and son team continued to adapt with the times. In 1982, they had grown to a point where they needed a bigger production space and moved their business a few doors down to its present location on 78 Queenston Street. In 1984, the company incorporated, changing its name from ìBurtnik Fine Printingî to ìBurtnik Printing Inc.î Mel and Mike would also become official business partners. 

The Burtniks began hiring their first employees around that time. But one of the biggest additions was Mike’s wife Kathy who he married in 1984. Back in those days, Kathy was working part-time from home on their accounts and looking after their new family. She eventually came on board full-time in the late 1990s and developed into an integral part of their team. 

Mel would retire in 1998 after four decades in business. At the time, the Burtniks implemented a succession plan that not only transferred the company but passed on the family traditions and responsibilities. In order to prepare for the future, Mike and Kathy soon bought the office next door and expanded into it, creating a large 7,000 square foot space for their operations. 

Today, Mike and Kathy are co-owners and operators of Burtnik Printing. But they don’t do it alone. The Burtniks’ successful firm has seven employees, all of whom have extensive expertise in print and design. Debbie MacGregor has been working with the Burtniks as a customer service representative for over 30 yearsand Matt Burnison, a customer service and press operator, has over 15 years of experience in the print industry. 

In recent years, the family operation has also grown to include a third generation with the addition of Mike and Kathy’s son Jordan who joined the team as a digital operator in 2009. Since that time, Jordan has helped add the latest technologies, and produce a product that is more vibrant and more affordable. Like his father, Jordan is actively engaged in growing the business and stays true to the same values his grandfather Mel lived by.

ì"Our employees are the cornerstone of our success," Mike explains. "They dedicate themselves to getting the job done for our customers and we’re proud of their loyalty. They’re not just employees to usthey’re family."


A Commitment to Quality

Quality is one of the big things that keep customers coming back to the Burtniks for their printing needs. Using their client management system, the Burtniks are able to determine what print projects a customer has done in the past and make sure their team captures the same branding and specifications as their last order.   

"We take care of what the customer’s want," Mike says. "We want to offer them the same quality service and product every time they work with us. The same quality that they deserve."î

Mike says some people try to cut corners by using online print services that are outside the communityand their print jobs can suffer as a result. At Burtnik Printing, however, Mike and Kathy’s team makes sure the customer gets just what they ordered every time. 

"My dad started this business as a personal printing service," Mike explains. "We believe this is still the best method for our customers. The extra care we take doesnít cost anything more. Itís simply part of our business model.î

Having just the right technology at your fingertips is critical when it comes to serving a customerís needs. Recently, the Burtniks invested in an HP wide format printer which enables them to print images up to 42 inches in size, whether itís on vinyl, paper or any other type of material. The Burtniks also have Xerox digital colour high speed production machines and several other specialized devices like a roll labelling machine that produces custom sized labels on multiple stocks. 

Mike says theyíve often upgraded their equipment working with Advanced Office Solutionsand the results are simply incredible. 

"Things are a thousand times better than when we first started," Mike says of the speed and flexibility of today’s technology. "Before you could only do one or two colours on a business card. Now everything’s full colour. Things are much less expensive, faster and better looking nowadays. We have the ability to capture exactly what the customer’s looking for."

Part of the Burtniks’ success also stems from the positive working relationships they’ve developed with their suppliers. 

"Whenever we need something for a customer’s project," Mike says, "we have excellent suppliers that will come through for us at a moment’s notice."


Being Green

Protecting the environment has been an integral part of the Burtnik family operation from day one. For the past 30 years for instance, Burtnik Printing has worked closely with Niagara Recycling to recycle all its off cut paper. With its state-of-the-art computer to plate system and chemical free wash, there are no waste by-products finding their way into the sewer system. The Burtniksí are also big advocates when it comes to using recycled paper stocks. 

ì"Our waste is very, very minimal," Mike explains. "We use 100% recycled bond paper for most print production, rather than the standard white bond."

Promoting the use of print is another cause that’s close to the Burtniks’ hearts. Just this past year, Burtnik Printing joined Two Sides North America——a non-profit organization that promotes the production, use and sustainability of print and paper in the graphic communications industry.

"People are under the impression weíre saving trees by using less paper," Mike says of the many misconceptions out there. ì"The facts show that printing on paper actually helps grow trees and save forests from deforestation. There are more trees now than there were 20 years ago."î

Mike says that ignoring the power of print isn’t in the best interests of today’s businesses.

"Successful businesses realize just how important print is from a marketing perspective,"îhe says. "Just look at direct mail pieces. Print is critical if you want to drive business to your website." 


Taking Care of the Community

Over its long history, Burtnik Printing has stood behind its workbut itís also stood alongside its community. Through the years, the Burtniks have donated their time and resources to various local charities and eventseverything from sports teams to the arts and non-profit agencies. 

"We are proud to give back to our community," Mike says. "We recognize and appreciate how important the work that so many do to simply help someone in need and make another life more comfortable. Where we can’t help with our own hands, we assist in other ways."

Mike and Kathy feel that helping peoplewhether it’s in their office or in their communityis one of the real benefits of owning a successful business. Mike says they wouldn’t be in a position to give back if it weren’t for their customers who keep coming back.

ì"We’ve had customers that have been with us for over 30 years," he says. "They keep coming back to us. We know what they need and we deliver for them. We’re confident that those who come in the first time will be part of the next 60 years."î

In Mike’s mind, it all comes down to one simple thing his father told him when they first started working together all those years ago. 

"My dad would always stress how important it is to take care of customers with quality and service," he says, "and that’s what we’ve done. Thatís why we’re still here today." BL


Burtnik Printing is located on 78 Queenston Street in St. Catharines. For more information, call 905.682.2458, email or go