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Southern Interior’s largest printing company celebrates 100 years

Neil Perry, current president and CEO of Wayside, is celebrating 100 years of business in Vernon.
Image Credit: SUBMITTED/Wayside
June 19, 2021 - 9:00 PM

A printing company founded in Vernon is celebrating its 100th anniversary this year.

Wayside, originally Wayside Press, is the Okanagan’s largest printing company and has offices in Kelowna, Kamloops, Salmon Arm, Revelstoke and Vancouver, according to a press release issued by Wayside.

Founder Harold George came to Canada in 1910 to work in a Summerland sawmill and moved to Vernon in 1921 where he formed a partnership with Ancill Hillier to start the print business on 30th Avenue. Wayside Press started as a fine commercial printer, and over the years, it expanded into signs, displays and tech.

“In 1921, when Howard George Bartholomew first founded Wayside Press in Vernon, above the old Okanagan Grocery on 30th Avenue, he found that his printing experience and knowledge gained working on London, England’s world-renowned Fleet Street, went far in the small town, population 3639,” current owner Neil Perry, said in the press release.

“I can only imagine what Harold George would think of our fully automated, fully integrated Heidelberg offset press capable of printing 12,000 sheets per hour and our fleet of digital presses that can accommodate every clients’ needs. Printing technology has improved so much, especially in the last 20 years, that he’d be blown away by the capabilities of the company he started.”

For three generations, the company remained a family-owned business as Brian Bartholomew bought the company from his father Harold Desmond Bartholomew who took over from Harold George Senior. Spanning five generations, a total of 26 family members have worked at Wayside.

Kay Bartholomew, daughter of Harold George, holds the record for longest serving employee as she started in her teens and worked for the company until she was 97, a span of 80 years.

Well-known locally for her conservationist work with the North Okanagan Naturalist Club, Greater Vernon Water Stewardship Advisory Committee and Ducks Unlimited, Kay passed away in 2018.

Brian never wrote a resume and worked only for Wayside starting as a typesetter when he was 12. Long-time employees Neil Perry and Richard Finn bought the company in 2008.

“A family business doesn’t usually last past the second generation and it’s unusual to get to the third generation,” said Brian, former owner, whose sons, Joshua and Stephen, work for Wayside. “It was time for new blood, new energy, and new perspectives, but it was important to find new owners that would honour the family values that became a strong part of the company’s brand with clients but also the staff.”

Perry was vice president of operations while Finn was vice president of sales and marketing. Perry, the current owner, bought out Finn in 2020. Working his way up the company and holding various positions, Perry started at Wayside as a teenager in 1989.

Perry and Finn changed the name to Wayside to reflect its new direction as a marketing and printing company and launched an aggressive expansion with the acquisition of Peerless Printers, in Kamloops in 2001, Wilde Imagination Sign and Design in 2014, Electric Paper Company in 2017 and Lakeside Printing in 2018.

The three Barts: Harold George Bartholomew (Bart Sr.) B&W top left, Harold Desmond Bartholomew (Bart Jr.) centre, and Brian Wayne Bartholomew (Skip). Three generations of Vernon printers 1921 - 2008
The three Barts: Harold George Bartholomew (Bart Sr.) B&W top left, Harold Desmond Bartholomew (Bart Jr.) centre, and Brian Wayne Bartholomew (Skip). Three generations of Vernon printers 1921 - 2008
Image Credit: Wayside

— This story was updated at 4:42 a.m. Monday, July 21, 2021 to correct the spelling of Brian Bartholomew's first name in one instance.

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