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Posted: 5/6/2015
‘Invisible Printer’ Making Magic in Your Mailbox
By Tim Altork /The Beacon Newspaper

Publication date: Jan 3, 2009

You’ve probably never heard of or seen the name “Stezzi Direct” on so much as an office pen. But chances are that something that they made will be in your mailbox (or your newspaper) sometime this week.

Joe Stezzi is the owner of  the company and he’s just fine with the fact that you’ve probably never heard of it.

“I’m just a production shop,” he said. “Whether they use my name or not, I don’t care. I just want them to pay their bill.”

Stezzi runs a full-service direct mail printing shop that takes designs given to them by clients and turns them into newspaper inserts, postcards, brochures, etc.

“We’re getting lists. We’re doing data processing. We’re printing all the binding work on it,” he said. “We address it, sort it and take it to the post office. Really, the only thing we don’t do is creative work.”

Stezzi got started in the direct mail business with a firm in Philadelphia that handled the direct mail for Colonial Penn Life Insurance in  1970’s and early ‘80’s. At the time he was the vice president of the largest direct mail producer in the world.

Joe Stezzi has built his direct mail printing company from scratch since moving to the area in 1986.

But controversy over the company’s relationship with AARP led Stezzi to seek a way out of the corporate web. So he took the advice of a  friend and moved south in 1986 to open his own business.

“I was the vice president of 100 people. I know what that looks like,” he said. “I left that world where we were flying around in jets and doing stuff to having to clean my own bathroom and start my business.”

He’s been in the Atlanta area ever since, and has slowly built his business into one of the most reputable direct mail printers in the area.

He considers himself a “wholesale printer” meaning most of his business doesn’t come from customers off the street, and he doesn’t employ a single salesperson. He maintains his business primarily through relationships he has built with brokers who represent  companies who need get their message out via direct mail.

That’s what allows him to stay behind the scenes. Those direct mail pieces are intended to get his clients’ message out, not Stezzi’s. And he’s perfectly content with that.

“If the brokers are using us they’re all using their own names,” he said. “We’re kind of a well-kept secret.” “We’re the invisible printer,” he added.

Stezzi is equipped to handle the largest of jobs. He has a 16,000 square foot warehouse off of Peachtree Industrial Boulevard that is  equipped with the latest in printing and labeling technology. He keeps a limited staff of around 15 people or so to run those machines and drive the trucks. It’s a relatively low overhead that has allowed him to stay successful for so long.

“If somebody says to me, ‘Can you mail five million pieces for me?’ I can do that because we’ve got the hardware on the floor to do it and we can man it,” he said. “But I don’t run that full time because I don’t really want to at this point.”

Stezzi is a tried-and-true quality over quantity type of guy, and he stands by his work.

“We’ll do a good job for you. If we don’t, we’ll do it again or we’ll give you your money back,” he said. “We don’t want to have unsatisfied customers.
 
“Direct mail is about repetition and being out there, and that takes deep pockets,” he said. “So that’s why I try to convince people to be economical. It’s more important to be persistent than it is to create a dazzling piece.”

After 40 years in the business he still gets a kick out of taking someone’s idea and turning it into a product that thousands of people will look at. And he gets a kick out of seeing his clients reap the benefits of that.

“I want to talk to you 10 years from now when you’re a success and we can have a drink and toast about it,” he said. “As opposed to making a couple thousand bucks on you today. Life’s too short for that.”

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