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Advertisers Publishing Co. Forges Buyer, Seller Bond

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Advertisers Publishing Co. Forges Buyer, Seller Bond

North Side Firm Spans The World With Specialties

Good Will Products Presented To Public As Business Booster

(Editor's Note: This is the 24th in a series of articles dealing with the history and operation of Ann Arbor industries.)

By Ralph Lutz (News Building Editor)

Advertisers Publishing Co., operating from a converted school building in the city's north side, is basically a businessman's business. But, it is also a customer's business. Its purpose is to create on-the-spot good will between buyer and seller.

It does this through a multitude of products known as advertising specialties. These products are shopped to all parts of the United States, its territories and to may foreign ports. 

Harry S. Hawkins, owner of Advertisers Publishing Co., describes these specialties as valuable, tangible property which their buyer distributes without charge of obligation to his customers. They are usually inscribed with the buyer's name and address. 

Numerous Items

Advertising specialties may be any one of thousands of items, such as bottle openers, calendars, of windshield scrapers. They may be worth a fraction of a cent or many dollars. The local firm is one of the largest makers of advertising housewares in the industry. These are sold under the trade name of "Publicity Park Products."

A type of specialty, called business gift, is more expensive and generally has no inscribed advertising. This is bought by business firms to present to favored clients. Hawkins said that an ideal business gift is one which the recipient will value, but one which he would not be apt to buy himself.

Advertisers Publishing Co. manufacturers, imprints or assemblies more than 100 different items. It acts as a jobber for many more. A large percentage of its buyers consist of banks and loan associations, insurance firms, dairies, railroads, wholesalers and manufacturing firms. 

Commenting on sales, Hawkins said that 58 per cent are out of the state, and about 3 per cent are in the territories or foreign ports. While the firm distributes about 15,000 copies of its catalog each year, it nevertheless depends upon its 100 direct sales distributors and 400 jobbers, scattered far and wide, for 95 per cent of its business.

At Former School

Today, Advertisers Publishing Co. conducts its business from the old Donovan School at 944 Wall St. Twenty-five employees carry on the activities. There are no throbbing machines and engines here, just small printing presses, assembly lines, shipping quarters and glittering show rooms. 

Executives, operating with Hawkins, are his son, Harry P. Hawkins, sales manager; and Robert Houghtalin, production manager, Fred J. and Erwin Heusel are distributors for southeastern Michigan. 

This industry was organized by the present owner and his father, W. H. Hawkins, on Sept. 1, 1926. Its first "plant" consisted of two rooms above a store at E. Huron St. and N. Fourth Ave. After several moves, it purchased the school in 1946. 

Typical of the specialty products are calendars. These come in all sizes and shapes, although the most popular size is said to be 16 by 33 inches. Officials and employees of Advertisers Publishing Co. are especially proud of a calendar which they call the "Black Suedette" series. This attractive calendar has been produced by the firm for 24 straight years. 

Planning Essential

The production of calendars requires great time and planning efforts. Calendars are planned 15 months prior to shipment. Now, the 1956 calendar line is being readied. Sample cases are being put into convenient kits for salesmen to show. 

Hawkins had a few words to say concerning art work on calendars. He said that general scenes were found by a survey to be the most popular with the customers, 37 per cent of them. Other types and their popularity percentages were pegged like this: Mother and child (or related maternal pictures) 23 per cent; hunting and fishing, 20 per cent; pin-up girls, 8 per cent, and the rest miscellaneous. 

As to the advertising specialties industry, it is competitive. There are some 1,600 firms in the industry, and they are highly concentrated in the Middle West. Products are shown several times a year at exhibits in New York City and Chicago. New products are being devised by imaginative persons every day. The local firm receives about 10,000 new ideas each year from all over the world. These must be examined, the best accepted, the other rejected. It all makes for a highly interesting business. 


A NEAT CONVERSION: This school building, the former Donovan School at 944 Wall St. has housed the operations of Advertisers Publishing Co. since 1946. The firm now employs 25 persons.

BOUND FOR FOREIGN PORTS: This printing press is used to insert advertisements on windshield scrapers which are to be shipped to South America. Charles Shingledecker in the operator. 

NEW PRODUCTS TO COME: Selecting new products from ideas that come in from all over the world constitutes an import phase of business at Advertisers Publishing Co. at 944 Wall St. Harry S. Hawkins, owner (seated) holds a brush. Inspecting it are Harry P. Hawkins, sales manager (standing); and Robert L. Houghtalin, production manager. 

GLITTERING SHOW ROOM: This room houses sample products of the thousands of items that make up advertising specialities. They range in price from a fraction of a cent to many dollars. Katherine Mahoney is seen arranging a counter. 

HAND IMPRINTING: Edna Cook is seen putting a buyer's advertisement on a match holder. She is using a small printing press. 

HAND ASSEMBLY: This process of assembling calendars to mountings is all hand work. Glue is used rather than staples. The form also uses some power-operated lines. These women are (from right foreground) Doris Gregor, Bertha Wilson and Jenny Peavey.