Local News: Acme Printing secures position as go-to source for design, print, branding, web services (11/15/22)

Ben Blecha, the new owner of Acme Printing Company shows off the laser printer that can engrave on many materials.

Shary Skiles/McCook Gazette

McCOOK, Neb. – Acme Printing Company had a one-time customer who was so impressed by their services in building websites and developing brand identities for numerous businesses that he decided he would buy the company.

The recent acquisition of Acme Printing Company, by Ben Blecha, has stood the test of time and is securing the company’s position as the region’s go-to for design, printing, branding and web services.

Russell Southard, a 25-year-old man, founded Acme Printing Company in 1932. He purchased the business from Lester Walker at $10,000. Southard’s son started a competing printing company, Touch Printing, but eventually, the two rivals merged.

The open floor plan of the new space at 702 West D Street facilitates communication throughout the entire production process.

Shary Skiles/McCook Gazette

Rose Chancellor bought Acme Touch Printing back in 1985. After many years, she sold the business to Jared Muehlenkamp on April 1, 2014. Jared ran the business for eight years as Acme Printing Company downtown McCook, on Norris Avenue. 

Eight years later on April 1, 2022 Ben Blecha bought Acme. Blecha’s vision is to provide a quality, local print shop with a continued focus on assisting businesses in all their marketing needs. The business has relocated from Norris Avenue and moved to 702 West D Street.

The faces have not changed despite the fact that the location has changed. Muehlenkamp is now the Chief Design Officer employed by Blecha, as are Acme’s existing designers, press operators, and office personnel.

Acme’s open floor plan allows ample space for all the printing equipment required to offer the many services it offers. From large-format printing, catalogs, flyers, vinyl, postcards, die-cut, and laser engraved – about every offering requires a different machine to produce. The operation is more efficient and convenient when everything is in one location.

“We were really cramped in that other space,” Muehlenkamp said, explaining that they would often have to climb several flights of stairs to complete a job from start to finish. All inventory, equipment, and personnel are now stored in a large open area, which allows for easier communication and movement between phases of production.

Blecha intends to grow the company by offering more of the marketing services that he values to other businesses. The business will offer key services such as website design, branding and search engine optimization. To expand their services, they have hired additional staff and plan to hire more.

Blecha invites you to visit the space on Thursday, November 17th from 4:30 to 6:00 pm.

Muehlenkamp went to McCook Community College and studied graphic design. The University of Nebraska Kearney was next. He was employed in Lincoln, Neb. at a sign shop, where he learned about the sign and design industry. After moving to Los Angeles, he felt the warmth of his home. He purchased Acme Printing Company, Rose Chancellor’s, in 2014. “I came back and experienced that hometown feel,” Muehlenkamp said.

Blecha studied engineering and agriculture at the University of Nebraska Lincoln. After having his left leg amputated from cancer, Blecha turned his attention to prosthetics. He attended prosthetic school Dallas. He moved around the country, working in South Carolina as well as Kansas City and Denver. He made the decision to return to Southwest Nebraska, where he opened a private clinic in Benkelman.

Blecha was also working on a knee brace that would offer owners of dogs suffering from hip or knee problems an alternative option to surgery. Blecha was able to make a financial investment from his relatives, Dr. Wayne Watkins of McCook and Lori Watkins, who made Hero Braces in Benkelman.

Blecha acquired WiggleLess in order to assist dogs with intervertebral disk disease (IVDD) and degenerative myelopathy. This back brace is designed to aid dogs with ALS-like disorders of the spine. Blecha has made improvements to the design and added new user-friendly features. Blecha intends to expand his Southwest Nebraska businesses so that the production of the back braces can be done locally.

On April 1, 2014, Blecha purchased Burn’s Lab, renaming it Henhat. Acme’s back is where the full-service orthotic lab produces orthotics. The space’s open layout allows for efficient production. Henhat created an iPhone app which allows you to scan your foot and send it directly to the lab. This application reduces shipping costs and time by not requiring a cast of the foot for the lab to produce the orthotic.

Blecha has approximately 20 employees between the McCook-based businesses and Benkelman. Blecha’s businesses have changed and grown over time. The “passionately curious” entrepreneur will continue to find opportunities to complement his existing businesses and capitalize on the abundant talent and resources Southwest Nebraska offers.

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