One thing, inherent in almost every small town in Canada, is a local printing company. Port Perry is no different and Port Perry Print, now known as PP Print, is an established business in town. One of the reasons this small, entrepreneurial firm has done so well is because of the man at the helm, Tony Janssen.
Born in Scarborough to Dutch immigrant parents, Tony and his family moved to Uxbridge when he was one year old. His father, Henry, worked for a family printing company, which printed the Uxbridge Times Journal. After eight years, Henry purchased the commercial print division of the Port Perry Star, and two years later built new premises on North Street in Port Perry.
Tony and his two sisters attended R.H. Cornish Public School, and later Port Perry High School. I asked him about part time jobs and he laughed. “I didn’t have any choice, but to work for my father.”
When he was 14, he and his sisters delivered papers. “It wasn’t a normal paper route,” Tony explained. “Mr [Peter] Hvidsten, owner of the Port Perry Star, would drive us to the [Scugog] Island. He would wait in the car, while we ran from house to house, dropping off copies of the paper.” I guess you might say the newspaper business was in his blood.
“When I was young, both my parents worked in the business,” Tony said. “It was quite common for my sisters and I to fall asleep on skids in the print shop, while my father ran presses and my mother did paperwork.”
After high school, Tony had mixed feelings about his future. He was quite handy and decided to study architectural engineering at Centennial College. Drawn back to Port Perry, and the printing business, he decided to work with his father and eventually take over the business.
In 1983 Tony dedicated all his efforts to growing the business. There were 13 employees and commercial printing was at its peak. Six years later Tony bought the company over a two year period, and his dad retired in 1991.
The young entrepreneur introduced new ideas, including faxing and photocopying for customers, and such services as laminating and selling office supplies. The business grew and Tony met Lana Crosbie, a marketing specialist. Today they run the business together and make time for their five children and five grandchildren.
Printing was great, but newspaper ink was still in Tony’s veins. In 2007, he and local business owner Jeff Reid, purchased CAPS Newspapers from a small Lindsay company, and started Scugog Communications Group.
“CAPS was great,” Tony said proudly. “We had good distribution throughout North Durham and the Kawarthas, as well as very loyal advertisers. Our writing team gave us excellent human interest and newsworthy stories, and our design team turned all the information into a colourful, thought-provoking newspaper.”
Unfortunately, the internet has infiltrated the newspaper business, and a monthly paper could not compete with weeklies, Twitter, Flipboard and in 2018 CAPS folded.
In 2011, Tony and Lana entered the sign business, and after a very successful three years, began a very broad-range promotional division. Today the company specializes in all facets of marketing for small and medium sized businesses, and also produces annual calendars, magazines and brochures.
Tony knew immediately that community involvement was a necessity in any small business. He has been a member of the Chamber of Commerce since the 1980s, and in 1990, joined their Board of Directors. In 2007 he took on the role of president and spent endless hours lobbying to all levels of government on behalf of 250 business members.
In 2012, Tony stepped back to his previous role of Vice President, but in 2016 he once again took up the reins of leadership. “I am pleased the Chamber [of Commerce] and the BIA [Business Improvement Association] are moving back under one roof,” Tony explained. I asked him when and where that would happen. “This week,” he replied. “We will be located in the heritage building at 250 Queen Street, recently purchased by the MSIFN [Mississaugas of Scugog Island First Nation].
For most people, running a successful business, heading up a Chamber of Commerce and balancing a large family, would be more than enough. Tony also finds time to sit on the Board of Emmanuel Community Church, is Vice Chair of the Scugog Economic Development Committee, and is one of the principals of the annual Roar by the Shore event.
What does the future hold for Tony Janssen? “More dedicated time to the community, enhancing my business skills and most important, spending quality time with my family.”
Jonathan van Bilsen is a published author, an award winning photographer, columnist and keynote speaker. Follow his adventures at photosNtravel.com.