A boy’s life … Mays grew up around printing process


NORTH BALTIMORE — Eric “Rick” Mays, owner of Mabar Printing, said he “fell in love with printing” more
than 50 years ago, working in his family’s small, 625-square-foot shop in their backyard.
His father, William McCoy “Mac” Mays, had returned from the service and purchased a 1916 Chandler and
Price letterpress.
“Mac just piddled around as a hobby” in the ‘50s, Mays said.
This was the beginning of Mabar Printing.
Mac saw opportunity in the printing business; he thought opening his own printing service could be a path
to self-employment, which proved to be true.
In 1960, Mac convinced his wife, Barbara Bucher, to build the small shop in their backyard and opened for
business. The spouses named the shop after themselves — a combination of “Mac” and “Barb.”
“With $5 and a prayer, Mabar opened full time Dec. 2, 1960,” Mays said.
At 11 years old, he helped his father in the shop, operating the open-fed letterpress on weekends. He
earned 50 cents an hour but remembers thinking, “Wow, I’m gonna be a millionaire!”
This letterpress — that Rick affectionately named “Chandler” — would later be donated to the North
Baltimore Ohio Area Historical Society in 2015.
“Fifty-one years, millions of impressions … it was like giving up an old dear friend,” Mays said of the
1916 Chandler and Price letterpress, having operated it from 1964 to 2015.
Mays’ connection to this 100-plus-year-old letterpress indicates the close-knit operation of the shop,
machines and humans alike.
Mabar was truly family-owned and operated; as the father and son worked on production, Mays’ mother
worked as a salesperson, locating new customers for the shop. Barb passed away from cancer in 1970.
Despite the difficulties surrounding her passing, “Mabar was destined to become a valuable business,”
Mays said.
After a few years of working for his father, he decided to explore the printing business outside of the
family’s shop. He wanted “to stay close to the printing industry” and found a job at a Toledo-based
paper company.
Ten years later, Rick was back at the family shop.
The art of of the letterpress was dying, but he was still using the skills he learned as an 11-year-old
helper in his father’s shop.
Mays’ love of printing led him to purchase the shop from his father on April Fool’s Day in 1984. Having
seen the progression of the family business, he was both excited and nervous to take on the
“I was 31, scared and fairly young, but I embraced the challenge and enjoyed it,” he said.
Until his father’s passing in 2013, the shop remained in the backyard of the Mays’ family home.
“The shop being in his backyard was going to be difficult to maintain,” Mays said. “I tried, but in
August 2015 I had to sell the property and subsequently move the business to my home.”
He acknowledges the ups and downs of the printing business, but said Mabar became “very profitable” in
the early ‘90s, noting Mabar and other small-time printers in the area “were steadfast and dredged on.”

Although digital printing has taken over, Mays has no plans to stop the presses at Mabar Printing, now
located at 408 N. Tarr St.
“We have had fun producing envelopes, letterheads, statements and such for nearly 60 years and hope to
continue much longer,” Mays said.

No posts to display