A Century of Investing in Downtown: Topeka Blueprint & Supply Co.

By Adam Vlach
Photography by Rachel Lock Photography

Since its founding in 1927, Topeka Blueprint & Supply Co. has seen its share of ups and downs.

blueprintJust a couple of years after the business opened, the Great Depression hit. With building projects almost at a standstill, the business focus was simply on survival. They stayed in survival mode until the end of World War II, when construction began to pick up, and the company, once again, began a thriving business.

Craig Trapp, president of the employee-owned business, says its ability to adapt and work with different clientele is what has kept the doors open for so long.

“Our main business is the construction industry,” Trapp said. “We do construction documents and specifications for architects, engineers, electricians, plumbers, concrete guys.”

Trapp said most of the company’s business comes from northeast Kansas, but it does work with agencies from Nebraska, Iowa, Missouri and some from Oklahoma.

But while the main focus is on architect, engineering and construction firms, Topeka Blueprint provides many other services to the general public.

“We do other printing, from business cards up to full banners and posters and color brochures, letterhead and envelopes, even antique prints,” Trapp said.

Topeka Blueprint also sells office and printing supplies as well as new and used furniture.

Eighty-five years ago, the services the company provided were completely different from what they offer now, given the evolution in technology. Topeka Blueprint worked Photostat machines, which were used to make copies of birth certificates, death certificates and other documents.

As technology advanced, the company continued to adapt and find ways to create products and offer different services. Now in the digital age, there are more options than ever before.

“I’ve been here almost 46 years, and in the last 20, technology has changed so much,” Trapp said. “Now you can take a digital file and every print you come out with is an original. You’re not making a copy from a copy anymore, and it’s so much cleaner and sharper.”

New technology is also hurting printing. “The printing companies around the country are just dropping like flies,” Trapp said. “Everybody is just doing it themselves, or find they don’t need a printer anymore.”

But Trapp believes there is still value in having a physical printed copy.

“People still like to hold documents in their hand and read it instead of trying to move it around on a little three-inch screen,” Trapp said.

Topeka Blueprint is doing everything it can to combat a declining printing industry, Trapp said.

One service the company offers that is not widely known, Trapp said, is its ability to take a photograph from a camera or cellphone and blow it up to poster-size. It is just one of the many additional services the business offers as it continues to adapt to changes in technology and demand.

Topeka Blueprint & Supply Co. currently employs four full-time members and two part-time members. It became employee-owned in 1996, which was for the betterment of the company, Trapp said.

“Everybody benefits. [The company] is kind of their retirement package,” Trapp said.

Trapp said one of the most important things for small businesses like Topeka Blueprint & Supply Co. is for people to shop and do business locally.