The future is female for Jellison Press Printers — now under leadership of Wendy Huggins. An assistant for 21 years, Wendy became the business’s first female owner when she bought the business in July 2021.
For nearly a century, Jellison Press Printers has supplied local businesses and individuals alike with everything from stationery and wedding invitations to custom cards, funeral pamphlets, signs, notepads, posters and more. “I loved helping people with something that is special to them. It’s personal,” says Wendy.
The company has adapted and evolved with the latest printing trends and technologies to continuously operate for nearly 100 years in Southern Pines — including changes of hands, locations, printing presses and processes. Wendy is its fifth owner.
The Legacy of Jellison Press
This isn’t the first time a Jellison mentee took the reins from the mentor. In the 1950s, original owner and founder Bill Jellison handed down the business to his son after opening its doors 30 years prior. And the most recent owner, Phil Enlow, had previously purchased Jellison Press from his former boss, Nick Chaltas, upon his retirement in 1988. After Phil’s 33 years at the helm, a new page turned when Wendy signed the papers on July 1, 2021.
A New Chapter for Wendy Huggins
Though Phil and Wendy had spoken about transitioning the company to Wendy over her 21-year tenure, the timing never lined up for one reason or another. Then in 2020, Wendy’s dreams nearly crumpled as Jellison Press slowed down due to COVID-19. “There weren’t many events or openings,” says Wendy. “I was out of work for more than a year. In 2021, I told Phil I had to come back or move on.”
On June 23, 2021 Wendy returned to work at the shop. One week later, on July 1, 2021, the ink was drying on the sale. “I prayed on this,” says Wendy. “I said if you want me to buy this business, just let everything go easy. And then it happened and I was in shock. That was a huge thing to completely buy a business in a week.”
Wendy’s Printing Press Journey
Wendy first learned about the printing press industry when she was in high school and was asked to help print envelopes. Years later, she returned to that same shop. What started as part-time work in a small in-house business turned out to be a five-year all-around experience in designing, ordering, printing and more. She worked in the dark room and learned how to burn negatives and make plates. “It was a small business, so I learned to do it all. I would always be covered in ink — looking like I jumped in a can of this stuff. I learned a little ink went a long way…and then was gifted an apron with my name on it so I would stop ruining my clothes.”
In October of 2000, Wendy joined Phil at Jellison Press at its previous location on Broad Street in downtown Southern Pines. Phil also worked in ministry and eventually would leave Wendy for weeks at a time, allowing her to learn the ins and outs of daily operations. “I always knew how to run the business, but I am now learning how to own it,” says Wendy. “If I have a question today, I can still call Phil and he’s there.”
Wendy has made a few aesthetic changes to the shop and slightly adjusted the logo. “If you look closely, the “J” and the “P” are connected at the top and it looks like a little excited person. I think that’s me,” she says. She has set her sights on getting a larger-format digital press for the shop to expand in-house production in the future. She is a one woman show making all that paper. As Wendy likes to say, “we print everything but money.”
Stay tuned to hear how Wendy will celebrate her first year in business this summer. For Jellison Press business inquiries, call (910)-692-8041, email firstname.lastname@example.org, or stop in at 160 Pinehurst Ave., Suite I, Southern Pines, North Carolina 28387.