Gowanus Lounge: Serving Brooklyn

Urban Environmentalist NYC: Rolling Press Q&A

January 16th, 2009 · 1 Comment

The Center for the Urban Environment (CUE) found Rolling Press owner Eugene Lee through the Sustainable Business Network NYC (SBNYC), a network of NYC business owners dedicated to building a vibrant, diverse and responsible local living economy in New York City. For more information on SBNYC check out www.sbnyc.org.

Q: Where are you from originally?

Lee: New York City. I grew up here, in Park Slope, Brooklyn, and I never lived outside of the neighborhood. Not only am I still here (just closer to the Gowanus), but I recently moved into Rolling Press.

Q: You’re an eco-friendly printing company. Tell me more about the environmental ethics that inform your business decisions?

Lee: There really isn’t a formal list of criteria that exists to guide our business. Over the years, I have internalized the understanding of sustainability, reinforced by my ongoing research of new methods and green technologies. As a business, we are following the Triple Bottom Line model as a moral compass: People, Planet, Profit. In addition to analyzing our profits, we need to be fully aware of our social and environmental impact.

Q: When did Rolling Press open and what lead you to start up the venture?

Lee: My father and I started Rolling Press in 1998 just after he decided to close his printing company of over 20 years. My foundation as a traditional graphic artist, and my understanding of printing was all born out of my father’s original company, though I was working elsewhere during the last few years of his diminishing business. Unable to fully accept the closing, I left my job to help extend the life of our family business by partnering up with my father, my mentor, starting anew.

Q: A number of small businesses are run by families. How do you think that shapes the ethos of the local business community in general?

Lee: Family-run businesses are integral in the small business sector, especially in a residential community like Brooklyn. Their contribution maintains the feeling of tradition, culture, and stability – a healthy contrast to the fast-paced, technology-driven world of so many businesses. We happen to balance both tradition and technology.

Q: How did you choose the location of your business and what do you like best about your community / customer base?

Lee: The location was the same as my father’s business; we merely changed the name of the company and held onto what was left after he closed. Although in 1998, and the decade before, the area was far from civilization, and even farther from charming. Only in recently years has there been a wonderful influx of life and vitality. I welcome the new community and I’m eager to see small businesses opening up around us. The new cafe around the corner was certainly a breath of fresh air for us.

Q: Many talk about the challenges of the current economy—are there any opportunities to a life of greater austerity?

Lee: The economy is an impossible thing to predict accurately. Those who are able to weather this oncoming storm will be able to enjoy the benefits of being a well-rounded company. Thankfully, we have great clients who continually support our steady growth.

Q: If you could pass a law tomorrow that would help small businesses locally, what would it look like?

Lee: To craft a policy that can financially benefit both employer and employee will probably be most difficult. But, I’d be inclined to favor some kind of significant tax relief (or government subsidy) for small business owners to help alleviate the burden of financial interruption. In theory, with better cash-flow, operations will run smoother, financial commitments are better met, customers are happier and will return with enthusiasm; profits are earned, and therefore employee wages can be increased, jobs created, and other benefits considered. However, as a theory, there are plenty of variables not considered here. And reality will probably interpret this policy differently than its intention. Though, I’d like to think good things can come from this.

Tags: Urban Environmentalist

1 response so far ↓

  • 1 Maureen // Jan 18, 2009 at 7:04 pm

    Eugene and Rolling Press do beautiful work! The postcards he made for our business blow away anything we’ve had made anywhere else. And, on a lucky day, there are green parrots in the tree outside his shop!