COEUR d’ALENE — During a quarter-century as pillars in local business and the community, Marshall and Gail Thompson have seen more than a few changes in Kootenai County.
“When we moved here the population sign for Hayden said 2,500,” Gail said.
The longtime owners of Commercial Printing — which has been a staple in downtown Coeur d’Alene since 1906 — have finally decided to stop the presses for good.
Effective Thursday, Commercial Printing and its accounts were transferred to Allegra Marketing Print Mail on Schreiber Way.
“On one hand we’re sad that Commercial Printing is going away,” Marshall said, “but it will live on at Allegra.”
Marshall, 70, and Gail, 65, moved to the area from Southern California in 1992 to acquire Commercial Printing. They’ve run the company ever since.
“Southern California is a busy place, and we always thought we wanted 5 acres, deer in the yard, fresh air and no traffic,” Marshall said.
The couple can still remember the first day they arrived in Coeur d’Alene in March 1992.
“It was like a T-shirt day — it was unbelievable,” Marshall said. “We were walking down the sidewalk and a couple of teenagers walked by and said hi. We thought that was pretty cool.”
“It was like ‘Oh, this is a friendly place. This is where we want to live,’” Gail added.
After 112 years providing printing services to Kootenai County — making it Coeur d’Alene’s oldest non-newspaper printing company — the decision to close the doors was bittersweet.
“It’s the end of an era here,” Gail said, “and there’s a sadness to see Commercial Printing go.”
Roger Stewart, partner and COO at Allegra, will be the man tasked with carrying on both the Thompsons’ and Commercial’s legacy.
Stewart, 58, believes the transition for the companies and their customers will be seamless.
“We are going to work really hard to maintain that same level of customer service and quality,” Stewart said.
“The No. 1 thing on our mission list is clients first,” he continued, “so we have the same core values as Gail and Marshall.”
Marshall said he wholeheartedly trusts Stewart and Allegra to provide the same service that Commercial did to its 1,200 customers.
“I have absolute confidence that [Roger] will be able to carry on good service for our customers,” he said.
And it’s the customers’ satisfaction that the Thompsons care about the most.
“They’re not quite family, but we care about them,” Gail said.
Those 1,200 new accounts will increase the customer base at Allegra by one-third, according to Stewart.
To help ensure a smooth transition, Marshall will assist Stewart on a part-time basis over the next few months. Several Commercial employees will also be moving to Allegra.
“I think he’s going to be a lot busier than he thinks,” Marshall said with a chuckle.
With all that in mind, Stewart said he doesn’t expect customers to notice any difference in their quality of service.
“The only difference is that we’ll be able to provide even more enhanced services,” Stewart said.
As for future plans, the Thompsons have a trip to Hawaii planned in March, and will be traveling to California in June to witness the birth of their first grandson — they already have two granddaughters.
For the most part, though, they plan to enjoy some downtime right here in Kootenai County.
“We’ll be back for the summer — there’s no better place to be in the summertime,” Marshall said.
The couple also plans to continue being active in their involvement with community organizations.
In the past, Marshall has served on the Kiwanis board and the Chamber of Commerce board among other positions.
Gail has been involved with Women in Business and Cancer and Community Charities.
As for the building, Marshall said he has a tentative buyer who should occupy the location at the corner of Fifth and Lakeside by April 1.
Most importantly, though, the couple agreed that throughout their 25 years of business in Coeur d’Alene, not a moment was wasted.
“Our time was well-spent,” Marshall said, “even if we were just making a 10-cent sale.”