George Bayless, Jr.

George Bayless, Jr. • Written May 2009 • Died October 2017

George Bayless Jr.

George Bayless Junior was born in Seattle and is a graduate of West Seattle High School. He joined the US Navy in 1943 and was discharged in 1946. He graduated from the University of Washington with a Business Administration degree and an ROTC Army Commission, serving six years in the Army Reserve.

George joined his dad in the bindery business in 1949 and purchased Bayless Bindery in 1971. He is the past president of both the Seattle Club of Printing House Craftsmen and the Washington-Alaska Printing Industry. He was named Printer of the Year in both organizations and received the Ben Franklin Award from the Oregon-Washington Printing Industry.

Maritime history was his hobby and he served on the boards of the Puget Sound Maritime Historical Society and Northwest Seaport. He published the cruising navigation books Maritime Atlas, Volumes 1 and 2 for about 40 years, and did a 500-page history of the Puget Sound ferryboat industry going back to the turn of the century.

Bayless Bindery grew to 100 employees and a 45,000 =-square-foot building in Renton. He closed the plant in 1995 when Bon and Tip Bayless, and Dan Lowe started up Puget Bindery in Kent.

George retired after 55 years in the industry, and he and wife Ann reside in Sunriver, Oregon.

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The early years of the graphic arts industry in the Seattle area will be done a little late and on the shoulders of only a few of us that are left. My recollections go back to the 1930's, but dates will not be as accurate as I would like, and some names long forgotten. I have used the limited edition of the history of the Seattle Club at Printing House Craftsmen by Burt Hagg, published in 1975, and a book put out by the Pacific Society of Printing House Craftsmen, also published in 1975 to jog my memory.

My writing will be based on my experiences as a Trade Bindery owner and those people and plants we worked with at that time.

George Bayless Sr. (L) with George Jr. in 1966.
My earliest recollection of the printing industry took place in the late 1930's. George Sr. took me to a Sherman Printing Company holiday party at the printing plant. I was introduced to the General Manager, Fred Anderson. Sherman Printing Company had the contract for many of the Miller Freeman Publications. Miller Freeman was the father of Kemper Freeman, developer of the Bellevue Shopping Center. One of my good high school friends was one Beverly Anderson (now Beverly Wing), Fred Anderson's granddaughter. Beverly worked her way through the University of Washington as a linotype operator for Roy Rosenthal, owner of University Printing Company. A lot of family connections within the industry, even at that time. Sherman Printing lost the Freeman contracts to California. The plant eventually closed.

Ward's Bindery was founded by J. C. “Brick” Ward in about 1918. Ward had been an apprentice and journeyman with Lowman and Hanford Printing Company. My dad, “George Sr.” obtained his journeyman's card in Atlanta, Georgia about 1915. He was working in Fort Worth, Texas when drafted into the U.S. Army and sent to Fort Lewis, Washington. He met my mother in Portland, Oregon and took his discharge in Seattle after the war.

He applied for a job with “Ward” and purchased the plant from his estate in 1941. I joined him after my three years in the Navy and graduation from University of Washington in 1949. At that time the trade binderies in Seattle were not very large and the work was done mostly by hand. There were three binderies in Seattle, Ward's, Reault's and Hopper's, plus a one room rebinding plant, “Anthony's.” All the binderies and printing plants in those days were unionized. Up to the time George Sr. purchased the plant he was business agent of the local bindery union. His opinion of unions reversed itself when he was on the other side of the fence during negotiations. I can remember his putting his foot through a carton when he found out what they were asking at that time in increased wages. He was still proud of his union card though and carried it until he passed away at 85.

I will now list some of the printing plants that we did business in those early days: Metropolitan Press, Farwest Litho, Washington State Grange Printing Plant, University of Washington Printing Department, Allied Printers, Pacific Builder and Engineer Printing Plant, Western Printing, Dammeier Printing, North Pacific Bank Note Seattle and Tacoma, University Printing, Frayn Printing, Washington State Printing Plant, Gateway Printing, Newman and Burrows, Craftsman Press, Cone Printing, Heath Printing, Lowman and Hanford, Trick and Murray, Acme Press, Argus Press, Bellevue American, Orrin Drew Printing, Century Printing and Eastside Journal. Others in the area were Hutchinson Press, Active Press, Sound Printing, May Flower Press, Totem Press and Publications Press. Some of these plants still exist, but most are long gone.

Lowman and Hanford was owned by the Pelly family and was the oldest continuously operating plant in Seattle at the time. It was purchased by Dick Lea and the Craftsman Press. The plant was renamed L&H. When it came time to close down L&H Printing Company I received a call from Dick Lea who was also owner of it and Craftsman Press. Dick wanted to know if I would like to see it as much of the old antique printing equipment was still on the floor. Dick knew I was a marine history buff and would be interested in seeing the old plant. After the tour I gave Dick a bad time about closing up what could have been a fine printing museum.

The Metropolitan Press was owned by George Hanley Sr. and his sister Agnes Hanley. After George Hanley Sr. died the plant was managed by Agnes Hanley and George Jr. until she passed away. George Hanley Jr. and Max Wells purchased the company with George Jr. having 49%, Max Wells 49%, but George had control with his aunt's 2%. I have a book printed and bound in leather by the metropolitan Press dated 1910. History of Teddy Roosevelt's “Great White Fleet” and its cruise around the world. The General Manager was Mike Hynes. Mike was an active member of the Seattle Craftsman Club, as were many of the owners and managers of most of the plants in Seattle and Tacoma at that time.

The Craftsman Press came on the scene after WWII and was owned by Dick Lea with Ron Renny as plant president. The Craftsman and Metropolitan were the two largest plants in the area and first to put in web litho presses.

As the printing plants were growing so were the trade binderies. Hopper's Bindery owned by Ralph Hopper eventually sold to Leo Diers and Leo's brother Glenn who joined him later. The Diers brothers were sons of the Diers Press founder. Ralph Hopper went onto be President of the Bookbinder's Union and held that job for many years. Renamed Diers Bindery, the plant moved to the foot at Queen Ann Hill.

Seattle Bindery, owned by Ed Woods, was sold to Milt Vine, and it too outgrew its facilities and moved south.

It was interesting that the two larger binderies were started on Spring Street downtown Seattle. Wards, now renamed Bayless Bindery, outgrew its quarters and in 1948 moved to new location on Wall Street across from Farwest Litho Plant. They outgrew that location and moved to their own building on 9th Ave North just in time for the 1962 Seattle World Fair. We had fun watching the space needle grow.

The largest printing job to hit Seattle in the 1950's was the T.V. Guide. The Craftsman Press, with its web press, was figured to obtain the job. Reault's Bindery put in the machines to do the binding. Western Printing, owned by Torchy Torrence, did the Horse Racing publication for Triangle Publishing Company, who in turn owned T.V. Guide. Torchy and George Sr. went to California to meet with Triangle. Torchy got the job, but George Sr. figured the job too demanding and would tie up our plant full time. Since Reault's had the equipment already to do the binding, they moved their plant up next to Western Printing. Western at that time was our largest account. However as it turned out the T.V. Guide did what George Sr. thought it would do and took up much of Reault's capacity and Bayless started getting much of their work. In the end Bayless had to put in more larger equipment to handle the increased load. Eventually Western closed up; Craftsman Press obtained the contract with T.V. Guide. Reault's sold but eventually went out of business. Bill Reault retired to the San Juan's and died trying to save a man blown out of his boat into the water. Bill dove into that cold water, carried him up to the ambulance and had a heart attack and died that night. I came into Friday Harbor the next day on my boat, no gas at that burned pump for awhile. I talked to Bill's daughter the next day and she said he died like he lived.

Bayless was still growing, added onto the building three times and took more space up the street. Later Microsoft entered the picture; we had to have more and larger equipment and were forced to move the bindery to a 45,000 square foot building in Renton. Most of the larger printing plants were moving south also.

As the Craftsman Press and Metropolitan Press grew, George Hanley and Max Wells wanted to retire and sold the Metropolitan Press to Dick Lea at Craftsman Press. The Metropolitan Press and equipment merged into the Craftsman's facility in the old Ford Plant at south end Lake Union on Boren Avenue. When Dick Lea retired the plant was closed in Seattle and moved into a new facility in Reno, Nevada. George Prue had been the plant manager and purchased the plant when it moved. Major reason for moving was union cost and Nevada tax structure. As these two plants were growing so were many of the others. Diers Press was purchased by Harry Strang, Theo Jenkins and Bud Bushel. Bud had been manager of Seattle Printing Industry and when he left, Frank Hurlburt was hired to take his place.

The Farwest Litho was considered to be one of the finest color litho plants in the northwest. It was owned by Milt Bell, Wendel Daggett, and Ernie Lotz. Oakley Lotz joined his father after serving in the U.S. Navy in WWII. The Farwest Litho was sold to Bill Bonnello with small shares of stock to Oakly Lotz and Rod Olzendam. The plant was merged with G.A.C. Printing at Portland, Oregon, but the merger did not work out. Bill Bonnello became ill and the plant was closed down. Oakly went on to become manager at Northwestern Mutual Insurance Company printing plant which later moved to Bellevue, and renamed Unigard Insurance Company.

Acme Press owned by Frank McCaffrey was also a fine color plant. Frank was also a fine printing craftsman and was a former president of International Printing House Craftsman Club. Burt Hagg, University of Washington Print Shop Manager, was also a past president of that organization. One year Frank had the contract to print the University of Washington Annual “Tyee” a very large bindery job done by Bayless. Frank, on his own, designed the inside end sheets to match his side line publishing company Dogwood Press logo. The people at the University of Washington were not too happy. Frank also ran for mayor but was not elected. Frank sold his company to Phil Spaulding with Rod Olzendam as sales manager and Al Jenson as Plant Manager. Later the plant was purchased by Farwest Litho and Bill Bonnello. Frank went on with his Dogwood Press, printing small run artistic hand-crafted books. Acme Press obtained the contract to print the 1962 Seattle World Fair Program. This was a large run with glued on covers. Bayless had the binding contract that required a glued on covering machine. We found a used machine in Portland and by today's standard's it wouldn't even be a good boat anchor. It did get the job done, however.

When Bayless was located on 9th Avenue North the favorite watering hole was the “Dart Inn Restaurant” on Westlake. Many times I would have coffee with customers and suppliers and one of these would be our favorite “publisher” putting together ideas that would eventually become the “Marketing Magazine.” I must have been in a weak condition when our “Larry” talked me into being his first advertising customer. However I was very glad to do so. The rest is history.

Another large printing plant in Seattle at that time was North Pacific Bank Note Company. Although the plant was owned by the N. P. Bank Note Company in Tacoma, the Seattle plant was larger. In the early days Frank Pritchard Sr. was general manager, only to be followed by Frank Jr. When Frank Jr. retired, his place was taken by Roy Johnson. The company outgrew its Seattle building, name changed to United Graphics and sold to a group headed by Chuck Steely and moved to Renton.

Frayn Printing was owned by Mort Frayn “who also ran for mayor.” He also was unsuccessful. Darrel Taylor was the plant manager. Bob Frayn took over ownership when his father retired. Company no longer exists.

Dammeier Printing in Tacoma became one of the larger plants in the northwest. Founded by Ferman Dammeier and eventually taken over by his son Brian and Brian's son Kurt. The company was a big player in Microsoft era and moved into larger quarters in Fife, Washington. The company was eventually sold and is no longer in existence.

Jim Knapp, Knapp Printing in Salem, Oregon, put together a group of printing plants in Seattle called Impressions Northwest. General Manager in the beginning was Jim Barrett, followed by Ed Whitehead. Four plants were involved, National Litho, Kelly Printing owned by George Bovick and Howard Tucker, Everett Printing, and Master Print. Master Print was a fine plant owned by Virg Gale and Bill Quackenbush.

Impression Northwest, under Jim Barrett and Bayless under Dan Lowe were the first northwest graphic arts industry companies to install computer systems to process job costing, profit and loss and balance sheets.

George Bayless Jr. and Dan Lowe
President/GM George Bayless Jr. and plant manager Dan Lowe, late 1970s.

Dan Lowe and George Bayless were invited to make a presentation to the Vancouver B.C. Printing Industry on the subject.

The Washington State Grange had an inhouse printing plant, originally managed by Gordon Durr. Gordon was followed by Bob Benson at Grange who was later appointed Washington State Printer for 12 years under Governor Dan Evans. Bob then went to the University of Washington Printing Plant and retired from there.

Cone Printing Company, Mort and Jerry Cone, played an important part of our industry. Cone grew and they eventually moved to a building on Boren Avenue. Company no longer exists. Mort was very active in the printing industry and participated in many conventions and meetings.

Microsoft was to have a large effect on the graphic arts industry over the years, and the trade binderies in Seattle and Portland played a big part. When Bayless was still on 9th Ave North in Seattle they received a call from a Bellevue customer “Lee Ellis”. Lee had a small shop and a customer he did not know walked in with a request for some printing. It was a large order for his company and Lee called Bayless and said the person was unknown to him, but he would need help with the binding, however, if the customer did not pay him, he could not pay Bayless.

Believe it or not, I ran a credit check on “Bill Gates.” The credit company laughed and told us not to worry. To this day I do not know whether I received a report on Bill Jr. or Bill Sr. At the time I did not know there were two Bill Gates. Jean Walker was part of Lee Ellis Company and went on to become a manager at Griffin Envelope Company.

The work for Microsoft increased over the years and resulted in millions of dollars spent on expensive printing and binding equipment to handle it. The Craftsman Press had a web press, but it did not fit the size of the new software books. Bayless had to move to Renton to find a building large enough to handle the new machines, storage and truck loading bays. Other printing plants also had to move for the same reasons. Microsoft changed its paper from uncoated to coated and before I could get a new truck to handle it I was cited three times for overloads. Most of the industry operated in two and three shifts to get the volume of work out the door.

George Jr with Tip and Bob
George Bayless Jr. with sons Tip (L) and Bob in 1992.

Later the printing market started to change and the union was becoming harder to deal with. Their wage scale was highest north of California, four week's vacation, nine paid holidays and Blue Cross Triple Choice Medical. George Jr. decided enough was enough. The plant employed over 100 people. Many of the best people joined Dan Lowe, Bob and Tip Bayless in their new plant in Kent. Puget Bindery “non-union” has done very well as of this writing, and George retired.

The printing, graphics industry in the northwest helped Bill Gates Jr. make history. Little did we know what the future for Microsoft would be.

University of Washington had its own inhouse printing and publishing facility. In the early days it was managed by Burt Hagg. Burt was also a strong Craftsman Club member and went on to become International President of that organization. He also wrote the book on the history of the Seattle Club of Printing House Craftsman 1925 to 1975. When Burt was International President the convention was in Seattle. Helen Hagg, his wife, was sitting at the head table with Burt when they had the drawing for the raffle prize. A new color TV set. Helen drew Burt's name. We all laughed but they took the set home. Color sets were very new at that time. The convention was a great success.

Another inhouse plant was owned by the Pacific Builder and Engineering publications. Relta Gray was manager and Jim Watson was the shop foreman. This publishing company kept Bayless busy for many years.

Trojan Press owned by Marv Hurtgen also moved to Kent area for a larger building. They became the printer of my Marine Atlas publication. The plant was sold when Marv retired. The new plant still does the Atlas for Tip Bayless. P.S. Puget Bindery still does the binding.

University Printing was one of the early printing plants in Seattle which was founded by Roy Rosenthal and John Reed. John was on the Seattle School Board for many years. Bert Raymond was General Manager. Howard Rosenthal eventually took over the business with Wally Reed as sales manager. Howard eventually sold to Bob Knowles at Forward Press. Howard was a former president of the Seattle Printing Industry. These plants do not exist anymore.

Evergreen Printing, as I mentioned before, was started by Gordon Durr and followed by Stan Maxted, also a former President at Seattle Printing Industry. Stan was a P-38 pilot in WWII and flew many missions out of Burma into China. Eric Busby was the owner when the plant was sold, which is no longer in existence.

Heath Printing Company owned by Clem and Howard Heath. Howard went on to develop a special printing press used in the check industry.

Other customers in early days were Newman and Burrows owned by Louis Completa, and National Litho owned by Art Whitehead and Larry Lowe, Dan Lowe's father.

Gateway Printing was on Westlake Avenue with Ralph VanDyke's pre printing company upstairs. Ralph was past president of the Seattle Club Printing House Craftsman and one of the stories about Ralph, he was out riding his bike with his daughter, and a dog bit the daughter. Ralph filed a complaint, the police officer arrived to take the information and Ralph's dog bit the police officer. Ralph was involved with many different facets of the graphic art business, some more serious than the dog story.

Gateway Printing, with Lars Johnson as salesman, printed the early catalogs for Eddie Bauer when it was a one location store at south end of Lake Union. Lars formed his own printing plant, Century Printing, and continued to do the catalog for many years. Bayless did the binding on those catalogs.

Artcraft Engraving and Superior Publishing was owned by Al Salesbury who was big in publishing local history books on the Northwest some 200 titles over the years. Al retired to West Seattle and had an old house on the beach and became known as “Alki Al.”

West Coast Paper, founded by Dick Abram Sr. started small but ended up one of the largest independent paper distributors in the United States. Their trucks are seen everywhere, Idaho, Oregon, Washington and Alaska. Dick took over the company from his dad. Longtime member of the sales staff, Sam Boren, started with Zellerback Paper Company, then moved to West Coast Paper and as of this writing is still selling paper for the company. Almost 60 years and still going strong. West Coast, when they moved to their new warehouse in Kent, made space for the fine Wm. O. Thornily Printing Museum.

Sterling Engraving was owned by Steve Lea, Dick Lea's brother.

Western Engraving was big in the high school annual business. Its owners were Harry Fogleberg and Ken Miller, both active Craftsman Club members..

Seattle Engraving was owned by Web Harrison, a very active Craftsman Club member in the early days.

The members that made up the printing industry in the early days were not a quiet group. The Christmas parties were legendary. They were a close group, competitors yes, but also friends. In the 30's picnics were common not only the industry members, but the unions as well. Competitors helped each other, a press would break down, and another plant would come to the rescue and finish the job at cost. Craftsman Press binder went down one night on TV Guide. Bayless called their crew back in and we ran till 3 a.m., until their machine was repaired. This was the last time George Jr. ever set up one of the big machines. Dan Low was in the hospital, and I was it.

Most all of the above plants are gone. Most had owners and managers that were strong members of the Seattle Craftsman Club. Bayless Bindery, George Sr. vice president in 1941, George Jr., Dan Lowe and Bob Bayless were all past presidents. George also was past president of Seattle Printing Industry.

A lot of the success of the Seattle printing industry was due to our association manager, Frank Hurlburt. Frank was previously hired to handle union negotiations and our industry Health and Welfare Program. I remember sitting in on negotiations early in my career with Frank Hurlburt and Frank Pritchard. My instructions were to “keep quiet.” They would do all the talking. Frank organized all our conventions and out of city seminars. Many great times were had by all. Frank never wanted our wives to attend these seminars, but he always took his wife Jean. Eventually we all rebelled and the seminars became more fun with the women present. Frank, I believe, enjoyed it also.

Our industry was blessed with a man who had a great influence on our industry before and after the war. Bill Thorniley was known as “the Past-Time Printer.” It was a hobby with him, antique type collector and printing on an old platen press. Bill was also the publishing and advertising manager for the “Black Ball Ferry System” from 1924 to 1945. President and founder of the Olympic Peninsula Resort Owners association and on the board of Washington Automobile Association AAA. He left Black Ball in 1945 to go with J. Walter Thompson Advertising Company as the Ford Motor Company representative in the northwest. Bill was president of the Seattle Club of Printing House Craftsman twice. The second time he helped us put on the National Convention for Burt Hagg. Bill's large printing collection went to West Coast Paper Company and made into a museum. I purchased the Maritime Collection that became basis for my book “Ferryboat Legend on Puget Sound.” He also managed the “Marine Digest” magazine when the publisher passed away. Also on the board of Puget Sound Maritime Historical Society.

I feel very fortunate to have grown up in our industry that had such a great impact on our Seattle culture. The many journeymen that grew up in the industry to become managers and owners were the backbone of the Craftsman Club and the Seattle Printing Industry.