The birth of Utley Brothers Printing is a classic Made-in-Detroit story which actually has it’s beginning in western Kansas when the older of two brothers sold his clarinet to purchase a mail order table top printing press. Much to his mother’s dismay, Wheeler Utley, decided as a high school student he would rather make money than make music and turned his focus towards his new hobby.
1933 was not a good year for Wheeler Utley to start a printing business. After all it was in the midst of the Great Depression. Wheeler pushed ahead through high school, gaining printing experience with his mail order press. The hobby turned into a passion at about the time the Utley family moved to Detroit, Michigan. The boys’ father, L.C. Utley, was a preacher and wrote religious tracts. He needed someone to print his publications so he encouraged Wheeler to become a “real” printer. They bought an old hand-fed press that had been stored for years in a chicken coop. Wheeler took the press home, cleaned it up and set up shop in the basement of the family home. Wheeler adopted the name Globe Print Shop for the new business. Small-yet-steady progress eventually led the young entrepreneur to open a “real” print shop on Manchester Street in Detroit, Michigan.
In 1945, World War II was ending and younger brother Bob returned from service with the Marines in the Pacific. Bob joined Wheeler in the business and they formally established Utley Brothers Printing on March 18, 1945. After years of war the country began to shift its focus and Detroit transitioned from being the Arsenal of Democracy to becoming the Motor City. So on a cold winter night in 1952, Bob and Wheeler visited a local car dealer to see the new car models. The cars were beautiful but the business cards they received were awful...really drab-looking!
The brothers went back to their printing shop, designed some colorful cards and set samples to a selected list of car dealers. The first year they sold 300 orders of cards. Wow! They were sure they had found their niche. For the next 29 years the two brothers worked as a team to build the family printing business.
Read the rest of the UB story here.