The current Knepper Press was originally established in 1873 by Charles Knepper as The Mansfield Item, a small weekly newspaper located in the town of Mansfield, 6 miles from downtown Pittsburgh. In the early 1900’s Mansfield was renamed Carnegie, after Andrew Carnegie, who had endowed the town with a local library. In 1906 Charles purchased the rival Chartiers Valley Signal. The following year he combined both papers, creating The Carnegie Signal Item.
The paper was then taken over by his son John B. Knepper, who in addition to producing the weekly paper, formed Knepper Printing and began to offer the simplest of print services to the town. When John B. passed away the company temporarily passed through several family members hands in a bizarre turn of events. In 1932 his son, James W. Knepper, once again regained full control of the small weekly.
In the early 1950’s, Jim’s son James, Jr. joined the business while attending Pittsburgh’s Carnegie Tech for printing management (now known as Carnegie Mellon). Upon graduating he convinced his father to buy their first offset printing press in 1958, purchasing a single color 17” x 22” ATF Chief. A camera and film arrived at the same time. By 1965, their linotypes and letterpresses were being eliminated as they purchased an offset newspaper web to produce the weekly paper also using offset printing technology.
In 1974, James, Jr. purchased both The Signal-Item and Knepper Printing from his father and incorporated them as Knepper Press Corp. He then went on to expand the newspaper side of the business by acquiring two additional weeklies, The Bridgeville Area News and The Brookline Journal.
Jim Jr.’s son Bill joined the family business in 1978, taking over the daily operations of the newspaper and printing productions in 1981. In 1983, Bletcher-Anchor Printing was acquired, one of Pittsburgh’s larger letterpress shops in the 30’s and 40’s. By 1984, the decision to sell the newspapers and focus exclusively on commercial printing was made.
In 1984, a Didde half-size web press replaced the Chief 22 and the newspaper web. In 1986, Knepper Press moved from the original town of Carnegie to a newer and larger facility in nearby Oakdale, PA. In 1989, Bill acquired Knepper Press from his father Jim, in turn becoming the region’s only fifth generation printing firm.
In 1989, the first multi-color sheet-fed press was added, a 2-color Heidelberg. In 1991, Ted Ford, a life-long friend of Bill’s, joined the company. From 1991 through 1999 Knepper Press installed two additional 8 color Didde half-size webs, allowing for four color production in one pass. The sheet-fed capabilities were increased with the addition of a 5-color 29” ManRoland. Knepper Press was now a true full-service web and sheet-fed printing facility.
In 2001, Knepper Press acquired Charles Henry Printing Company, the region’s second oldest and a highly-respected sheet-fed printer. This acquisition proved to be extremely strategic and provided Knepper Press with instant access to the 40” press commercial printing market. Charles Henry’s older equipment was liquidated and a new 6 color 40” ManRoland was installed, as Henry’s operations were consolidated into the Knepper Press Oakdale facility.
In late 2003, Bob Hreha was hired as President. Bob is responsible for the day to day operation of all production and plant operations. In 2005 sheet-fed capacity was once again increased by adding the region’s only 10 color 40” ManRoland perfector with not only sheet, but roll-fed capabilities.
In 2008, Knepper Press relocated to its current facility, building the region’s largest, most state-of-the-art printing production facility. Since then we have acquired MultiScope Printing, Stanton Station Fulfillment, Mercury Printing, and most recently Type & Print. We have added an extensive digital department, as well as upgraded not only all of our workflows and IT infrastructure, but have also greatly improved our bindery and mailing capabilities.
In 2018, Knepper Press became part of a major art installation for the Carnegie International. The internationally known artist, El Anatsui employed over 3,000 of our previously used printing plates to create a massive outdoor sculpture that was on display at the museum for six months.
In 2019, our footprint expanded to Buffalo, New York, with the acquisition of two companies. One was TBN Direct, the commercial printing arm of the Buffalo News. The second was Dual Print and Mail, a large sheet fed and web printer. The addition of this large printing facility operating a twin of our Rotoman web press provides back up and redundancy between Pittsburgh and Buffalo. In 2019 our sheet fed capabilities were enhanced by the installation of LED UV units on three of our sheet fed presses. LED UV inks dry immediately allowing for superior printing and cost effective special effects such as spot UV and reticulating varnish. Substrates such as plastics and other synthetic materials can be readily printed using this advanced technology.
In 2020, we remain committed to continual reinvestment in the most advanced print, digital, data, mailing, and fulfillment technologies available in the Tri-State region. We also believe that the future includes more personalized and directed communications through a combination of both print and digital mediums, as well as alternative delivery methods. Data and digital asset management are cornerstones to this future, for not only Knepper Press, but for all of our customers.