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Chamber honors API-Marketing as Business of the Year

By: Gloria Young,
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State of the Community Dinner

Friday, May 10

The Ridge Golf Club, Auburn

Cocktail hour at 6 p.m., dinner and awards at 7 p.m.

Tickets are $50 per person

For tickets and more information, call the Auburn Chamber of Commerce at (530) 885-5616

A company that has contributed growth, innovation and community service for more than half a century is this year’s Business of the Year.  The Weston family – Brad, Merrill, Jackie and Liz – will be honored at the State of the Community Dinner on May 10 at The Ridge Golf Club and Event Center.

API-Marketing, formerly Auburn Printers, started in 1946, reproducing social newsletters for the community. It changed ownership in 1977. Then in 1988, current owners Brad and Merrill Weston took it over when they moved from Southern California to the foothills.

“Merrill and I both had commercial printing experience when we came up here,” Brad Weston said.  “(The company), then known as Auburn Letterhouse, was a quick copy storefront type of copy shop. We knew when we came up that when we bought it we were going to become a business to business and commercial printing operation.”

In 1989, the Westons moved from 933 Lincoln Way to 142 Hoffman, by the Salvation Army, doubling the working space. Then in 1999, they built a facility at the Auburn Airport Industrial Park and moved in during 2000.

“We came close to tripling our space -- we’re six times the space we were from the original building in 1985,” he said.

The expansion brought larger equipment and larger print runs to serve a client base that has expanded to New York, Florida, Southern California, Nevada, San Francisco and all of Northern California.

“We still do a lot of local stuff. That hasn’t changed,” he said. “We continue to do the local business we had in 1985. But the expansion went out to larger companies.”

Among the jobs are short-run catalogs and publications for specialty industries.

“A lot is related to the horse industry,” Brad Weston said. “We do some work for the state of California.”

Weston cites efficiency and workmanship as major factors in the growth of the business.

“We had a history of quality commercial type printing so that more than printing letterheads and envelopes, we could print a million postcards and get them distributed in a week for the state of California or 70,000 catalogs for the school district,” he said.

The staff has expanded, too, as the company has grown.

“We had one person when we opened and we are 18 now,” he said.

Last year, the Westons changed the name from Auburn Printers to API-Marketing.

“We simply outgrew our name,” he said. “We were doing a lot of work outside of Auburn and we weren’t just doing printing.”

A lot of the growth was added capabilities for the company.

"We do what’s called an integrated campaign -- dealing with printing and email and SMS (cell phone text) messaging,” he said. “There are campaigns around reaching people in a multi-touch way using several different types of media.”

An example of that is a multi-touch campaign created in-house for Winchester Country Club.

“We built a data file of potential golfers in geographic and demographic areas outside of our local area,” Weston said. “(We created a) database that resembled the traditional country club golfer. Then we direct mailed to them with an offer where they would go to a micro-site we built and they would sign up, answer survey and profile questions and would be eligible for a drawing.”

Weston estimates that by the end of 2014, API-Marketing will be at less than 50 percent ink on paper because of the growth in ancillary services.

Currently the Westons are completing the certification process to be recognized by the federal government as a women-owned business. One of their daughters, Jackie Weston, is marketing and emerging services manager. Their other daughter, Liz, also is a family partner in the business.

“It opens up opportunities to deal with more prime contractors in the federal government and state of California,” he said.

API-Marketing’s commitment to community and longtime involvement with a variety of community organizations and events made it an ideal choice for this year’s Business of the Year award, according to Auburn Chamber of Commerce CEO Bruce Cosgrove.  

“Brad and Merrill have been involved with numerous organizations -- Soroptimist, Rotary, Lions Club, Western States Trail Foundation, Sutter Auburn Faith Hospital -- that’s just six of probably about 50. I have a long, long list,” Cosgrove said. “Since 1985, when Brad and Merrill Weston purchased Auburn Letterhouse in Downtown Auburn, they very quickly became part of the community, getting involved in the Downtown Business Association, Chamber of Commerce and a variety of other  organizations. Later, they changed the name to Auburn Printers and while they were Auburn  Printers, Brad served as president of the Downtown Business Association. Then in 1990, he served as president of the Chamber of Commerce. Most recently, their daughter Jackie Weston has become very active with the chamber ambassadors and with Relay for Life. So she’s keeping that family tradition of community involvement very much alive for API-Marketing. They have a very successful business, they provide quality service to our community. They have grown the business … they’ve created jobs and contributed to the local economy.”

Brad Weston has also served as president of the Auburn 49er Lions and is on the board of governors for the Tevis Cup. As a Rotary Club member he was honored as a Paul Harris Fellow.

Merrill Kagan-Weston was a commissioner on the Auburn Mainstreet Commission during the 1980s. She is a member of the Soroptimist Club of the American River and was the inaugural recipient of the Soroptimist Club’s Annabell McCord award for community involvement. She currently serves on Sutter Auburn Faith Hospital Foundation board.

When not working, the family enjoys horses and trail riding. Liz Weston completed the Tevis Cup 100-mile endurance ride when she was 18.

Brad Weston said he is very happy the company was chosen business of the year.

“Merrill and I are both very appreciative of our staff here,” he said. “I think the growth and success of the company wouldn’t be what it was without the people who work here.”

Reach Gloria Young at gloriay@goldcountrymedia.com.