Downtown Camas Merchant Spotlight – Pat Guard, Columbia Litho Printing Services

Stop the presses, and hear the story of the integral downtown Camas print shop, and how Pat Guard grew the business from setting type to full-color banners as big as a building, and all the hard work in between.

Columbia Litho Printing Services has been in business since 1944, serving the Camas community for nearly eight decades. But more than longevity, Guard said the company was built on a strong commitment to support the Camas community, to give back to those they serve. “It is ingrained in our philosophy. We’re proud of the strong roots we’ve helped build in our community,” he said.

Guard explained that Columbia Litho is a complete source for all business communications needs, and they strive to stay on the leading edge of technology. “We understand that an investment in technology can actually save money by improving efficiency. We take the time to help folks understand the new technologies as well,” he said.

Tom Blair started the business back in 1944, and was soon joined by Pat’s family. Pat himself started working at the commercial printing shop while he was still in high school, in exchange for class credits. While he was in college, he worked a swing shift at the Mill at night and attended school by day. “The 1978 strike was too much for me and I started working part time at Columbia Litho again,” Pat said. “When a full time opening came up after the strike, I jumped at it, and have been here ever since.”

He started managing the business in 1988 and bought the business in 1991. Their business had expanded significantly at that point, and Pat said that in order to keep up with the times, “we’d need to expand the floor plan. I had a great banking partner in Riverview Community Bank and when I saw the building we’re currently in (at 302 NE 6th Avenue), I sat outside in my delivery van and counted the cars … there were a lot of vehicles going down 6th Avenue!”

That was the spot he wanted to grow his business, and Riverview Bank helped make that happen. “This was a great business to be in, and something I could certainly manage … and being a people person, I also got to interact with clients and the community,” Pat explained. “On top of that, I like the challenge of making difficult sounding projects work for clients. We have a vast knowledge of doing crazy things with print projects and our client base does a good job of trying to stump us! But I like puzzles, and printing with the various combination of sciences that make it happen is a great way to wake up in the middle of the night when you’ve finally solved the current one. I have always been fascinated by the way things work and the ingenuity of the early inventors of complex equipment.”

Pat said the personal relationships he’s developed over the years through work at Columbia Litho have been his icing on the cake. “Camas has always been a tight-knit community, with friendly people,” Pat said. “We were raised to work hard, play hard, and contribute to our community. Buying into the real estate and business community has allowed us to do just that. We have worked hard at growing this business, making a comfortable life for ourselves and our employees along the way. We have been blessed and giving back to the community in various ways over the years has been very satisfying.”

In the near future, Pat is looking to retirement and the printing business will come under another’s helm. “And I will have so many great memories of my time spent helping Camas be the great little city it is!”

Thank you Pat for all your years of service and being such a meaningful legacy business in our town. Call Pat for all your printing needs! 360-834-4662