ORIGINALLY WRITTEN TOM STOPPEL
Braden Suffield has always been interested in making money.
Only 18 years old, Suffield already is a four-year owner of his own printing business in Marion, Zepher Printing.
“I first began my business when I was a freshman in high school,” said Suffield, a 2006 Marion High School graduate. “I was always a kid that wanted to make money and tried to think of ways to do that.”
Braden, son of Duane and Judy Suffield and a life-long resident of Marion, likens his business to a Wal-Mart of printing.
“There aren’t many places around where you can get the entire package like I have here,” Suffield said. “I try to match what I see as a need with what I think will sell.
“People don’t have to look around and match things up, they can get everything in one stop.”
Suffield began his business doing graphic design, but quickly identified other needs in the Marion County area.
“I do screen printing, embroidery, business cards, rubber stamps, promotional items, logo designs and I design Web sites,” Suffield said. “Anything that has an advertising name on it, I sell.”
Suffield credits an MHS class taught by Jim Versch for much of his knowledge of graphic design, but he admits it helps to have a natural ability in the field.
“Graphic design is probably my most favorite area,” he said.
Suffield said he faced most of the tribulations any new business owner would starting out. But one obstacle proved more prominent than others: his age.
“The hardest part of starting my own business was getting suppliers to give me credit,” Suffield said. “For a while, I had a little trouble with people taking me seriously because of my age. But eventually, people saw I knew what I was doing and (age) was no longer a factor.”
Suffield is well versed in Web site design, too.
“I did our high school’s Web site,” he said. “And I’ve done a couple of nursing homes and rehabilitation businesses in Kansas City and back east.”
For now, though, it’s Suffield’s screen printing and embroidering line that brings in the most revenue.
“I do all the designing of shirts for schools and businesses, but I sub-contract the actual shirt printing to other businesses,” he said. “There are a ton of companies around the country that do only contract work.”
Suffield said Zepher Printing has been holding up well in an otherwise challenging economic climate.
“Business has actually really picked up lately,” he said. “I think word of mouth and the fact I’ve been able to devote more time (to the business) have really helped me.”
Recently, Suffield designed and sold rubber wrist bands to McPherson High School. The school purchased 1,000 for a fund-raiser.
New to Zepher Printing is the ability to make signs, banners and decals.
“I bought a new machine a couple of weeks ago,” Suffield said. “I use Adobe Illustrator for my designs on the computer and then transfer it over to the sign-making machine.”
Suffield said he’s now able to produce yard signs, vehicle lettering, decals, window lettering and “anything like that.”
“There are no other places around Marion that sell banners and signs,” he said. “I hope a lot of people will take advantage of this service.”
While local customers are still discovering the availability of Suffield’s services, numerous clients have surfaced, thanks to the World Wide Web.
“I have my own Web site so people can find me,” Suffield said. “Plus, I sell products on eBay. I’ve been able to sell quite a bit on the Internet and hopefully I’ll sell a lot more around here once people realize the capabilities I have.”
These days, Suffield is designing logos for First National Bank in Hutchinson, the Vietnam Memorial Moving Wall in Ohio and a company in Philadelphia.
With aspirations of working at the corporate level and having “a nice-sized building and a bunch of employees,” Suffield is enrolled to attend Tabor College this fall and plans to study in the computer systems administration program.
“I hope to be able to expand into computer repair,” he said. “I’ll drive back and forth from Marion, so I can still keep things going in my business.”
Zephyr Printing is located at 100 S. Third St. Suffield welcomes new customers and feels confident if they have an idea, he has the knowledge and skill to meet their needs.
“I hope to always be able to own my own business,” he said. “But I know the secret to a successful business is to hang in there, don’t ever give up and stay the course through the slow times.”
With four years of business under his belt already, Suffield is on his way to finding that corporate ladder he hopes to climb.
Suffield can be reach at 620-382-4316 or toll-free at 1-877-208-3536. His Web addresses are zepherprinting.com and zephertech.com.