Meet Your Merchant: Rasmussen trades IVs for ink
Sallie Rasmussen planned to spend her life as a nurse.
But after nearly 40 years running Economy Speed Press in Carson City, Rasmussen has made her life’s work more about ink than IV drips.
“That’s where I wanted to be,” said Rasmussen, 72, of the career she went to school for but ultimately never pursued. Instead, she’s been preparing things like envelopes, business cards and wedding invitations for people and businesses in Carson City since 1973.
The print shop started inside a 250-square-foot converted hotel room in North Carson City. In 1974, the business moved to its current location, inside an old home on Curry Street.
When Rasmussen first started, she would take the orders, set the type on the press, make the copies and call the customer.
The reason for all the responsibility? “There wasn’t anybody else,” she said.
Things have changed since then.
Today, she’s still working with her five employees, including graphic designers and her pressman, Eric Neusel, 49.
Many of the machines in the shop were manufactured in the early-to-mid 20th century, including a German-made Heidelberg and a paper cutter from the early 1900s. Nearby are two digital Xerox machines Rasmussen recently added to the business.
Looking back on her time spent at Economy Speed Press, Rasmussen said she’s most proud of providing jobs for locals and a service for the community.
“I guess I wasn’t supposed to be (a nurse),” she said. “I sold the place three times and had to come back each time.”
There have been ups and downs over the years.
“I got my finger caught in the press one time,” she said.
Rasmussen said she was stuck for about an hour. The fire department eventually came to her aid, but they told her they would have to destroy the press to get her finger out.
“I said this is my income, you will not destroy the press,” she said. Instead, they used a torch to remove just enough of the machine to free her finger.
Business has picked up a little since the recession started. In the worst of the economic downturn, Rasmussen said she was only making enough to cover payroll.
“We all need to earn money,” she said “That’s why we’re all here is because we need to earn a living. I just think it’s so important to keep this many people employed and not have to be afraid every day that their job is gone.”
The most important lessons Rasmussen has taken over the years is the importance of customer service.
“I think we furnish a need for keeping things local and keeping people that are interested in the town to stay involved,” Rasmussen said.
She adds, “The only reason we’re here is to do what the customer asks for.”