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PBJ History is unique.

We’re Building A Reputation, Not Resting On One!

At the age of 14, during the summer of 1983, Jim Johnson was offered a cleaning job by his neighbor, Arnie Harms who worked for Lee Printing Company. Jim eagerly accepted the offer. On his first day, Jim was introduced to Bill Lesperance, the owner of the company. Bill voiced his concern to Arnie about Jim’s age, as cleaning was an evening job and would require Jim to work into the night and lock the shop up on his own. Arnie reassured Bill of Jim, stating that he trusted Jim as much as he trusted his oldest brother. Bill thought about this and decided to hire Jim.

 

Over the years, Jim moved through the shop departments, from cleaning to bindery, deliveries to a pressman. Jim had found his niche…It was PRINTING! Fifteen years later, after being married for 7 years to his wife Jill, Jim and Jill decided to open Printing By Johnson in 1999.

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PHASE ONE

The 1st location was at 1404 South Gratiot Ave in Mount Clemens. They purchased a 1500 Square foot commercial building that was a duplex, luckily it had a tenant that occupied 600 of the 1500 sq. ft. They quickly outgrew the front 900sq ft and took over the back which gave PBJ the entire building. Once again, PBJ had growing pains and started looking for a bigger location. Their goal was to stay within 1 mile of the current shop.

PHASE TWO

It was pure luck that two doors down from them the old Ar-Jays Hobby Shop, who were looking to close their doors. Jim and Jill negotiated the purchase of the 5600 square foot building. Within three months they had converted the store into a print shop and moved in, pushing carts of paper down the sidewalk to their new building.

 

Jim and Jill LOVED the building due to the uniqueness and rich history it had in Mount Clemens. For twenty years, Printing By Johnson flourished at 1430 South Gratiot, basking in the unconventional layout and 5 different floors/levels of the building. Jim loved to shock his clients with the “hidden” floors that were unexpected.

Unfortunately, the “hidden” levels became a hindrance to the workflow and began to affect production. Relocation was becoming a fast need and reality.

 

While Printing By Johnson was growing and bursting at its seams, Lee Printing had expanded and transformed under the watchful eye of Keith Lesperance, the son of Bill Lesperance (Jim’s first boss). While still offering print, Lee Printing Company expanded to digital assets, websites and becoming a marketing boutique. Unfortunately, the COVID-19 Pandemic affected Lee Printing Company, as it did many companies. By December 2021, Keith reached out to Jim to broker printing for Lee Printing Company. Jim and Jill were glad to assist. After a month of Lee Printing Company and Printing By Johnson working together, Jim and Keith started to discuss future options.

Keith knew he was ready to sell. Jim became very interested upon hearing this, as the idea of owning the building where decades earlier he had learned the craftsmanship of printing and great life lessons from Keith’s father, Bill Lesperance, along with the passion for all things print, seemed too good to be true.

PHASE THREE

In August of 2022, Printing By Johnson purchased the building located at 21222 Cass Avenue from Bill’s widow, Beverly Lesperance. A month later, Jim and Jill acquired the assets of the historical Lee Printing Company – a centennial business, established in 1889 – from Keith Lesperance. Printing By Johnson immediately merged the companies and became: Printing By Johnson/Lee Printing Company. In November of 2022, Printing By Johnson officially moved to the building of Jim’s printing roots.

 

Upon taking over Lee Printing Company’s clientele, Jim and Jill realized more equipment was needed to properly service the customers. Stocking pallets of paper on the floor to make sure delivery dates are accurate and serve customer needs took room. Coupled with a completely outfitted sign division that hit storage capacity, space became tight quickly. So, with the new/old building, Printing By Johnson had more growing pains and needed more room. Again.

PHASE FOUR

In January of 2024, Printing By Johnson broke ground on an 800-square-foot warehouse attached to the back of the 4800 Sq. Ft. Cass Avenue location. This expansion will give PBJ the ability to service their customers with quick, efficient, seamless service, as we have done for the last 25 years and to continue Lee Printing Company's commitment to the community since 1889.

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So, forty-one years later, Jim ended up right where he began. With the help of his wife, Jill and their son, John, they created “The American Dream”.

 

A special thanks to Arnie Harms for introducing me to printing at the age of 14 and to Beverly and Bill Lesperance for giving a “kid” a chance to prove himself and for instilling a strong work ethic, Bill would always say “Remember you’re only as good as your LAST print job”.

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Thank you to our dedicated staff for their contribution of teamwork, skills, and perfection.

 

Most of all, the gratitude we have for our customers runs deep. Without you, Jim, Jill, and their Team wouldn’t be celebrating twenty-five years together.

THE STORY BEHIND THE CARICATURE OF MYSELF AND BILL LESPERANCE

Bill bought Lee Printing in 1964. He commissioned Karl Schoen to draw a caricature of himself. That caricature became the “face” of Lee Printing for 58 years. When Printing By Johnson decided to purchase LPC, I shared the history of Lee Printing and how it had been in Macomb County since 1889. I went on to explain the caricature of Bill running with paper flying off the top. “Wouldn’t it be neat if I could get someone to do a caricature of myself running behind Bill and picking up the paper?”, I asked. My designer said she could do that … and so we are “continuing traditions”.

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