Stoughton Printing Co. was founded in 1964 and incorporated in 1965 to meet the needs of the growing recording industry, initially providing record label backgrounds and imprinted, die cut labels. Working out of a tiny building on Santa Monica Boulevard near Western Avenue that was so small all of the stock had to be rolled outside into the parking lot each day so you had room to work, Jack Stoughton, Sr. and his partners soon found that business was growing by leaps and bounds. Mr. Stoughton bought out his partners to better focus his vision of Stoughton Printing Co., its market and its service to its customers.
As the company's ability to serve that industry and it's reputation grew, so did it's penetration into other segments of the music industry – 8-Track labels, cassette J-Cards, and “slicks” used for manufacturing jackets. These were paper “labels” mounted to a cardboard shell and made into jackets. Beginning about 1969, these were printed for Modern Album of California (Burbank), Globe Album (South Central LA), Imperial Pacific Packaging (Glendale), United Film and Packaging (Vernon), KM Records and Alshire Records (both of Burbank). These plants were all competitors in the jacket business, but chose SPC for superior product and printing. SPC printed the "slicks" and "back liners" or “inside spreads” for them - and they then manufactured either the gatefold (Doubles) or single jackets that SPC printed for them. SPC didn't call them "old style" then, 'cause they were still pretty much "current style" jackets.
"...As the record printing market continued to grow at an accelerated pace, more employees were hired and additional equipment was purchased ..."
Soon, new and larger quarters were in order. New equipment was added, and not long thereafter, the company outgrew its building again. In 1969, Stoughton installed the first dual installation of Heidelberg's new S-Line presses, two SORMs, replacing a KORD and adding capabilities. Not only were these presses of the highest quality and speed at the time, they were also versatile enough to print cover slicks for record albums—the outgrowth of fine service to the recording industry—as well as record label backgrounds.
In 1972, the company moved to the City of Industry and added a new two-color Heidelberg 29˝ press (SORMZ). As the record printing market continued to grow at an accelerated pace, more employees were hired and additional equipment was purchased. Soon after, another SORMZ was added along with an SORD (36” single color) that allowed 45RPM labels to be printed 54 on a sheet.
The tides were changing away from the paper wrapped jackets and moving to the board jackets (such as Ivy Hill’s “Ivy-Pack”, Shorewood’s “Shorepack”). In 1974, SPC purchased their first of two MEPPI “Discolop” machines for manufacturing these direct-to-board (DtB) style jackets. After it’s founder, they named their jacket the “Jack-Pack”. Meanwhile Modern came up with a paper version called the “Super-jac” and Imperial countered with the “Impak” – which mimicked the look of the direct-to-board jacket, but was still a paper wrap on board.
These “Discolop” machines were limited to manufacturing a single, 12” DtB jacket and had no ability to make any sort of double or two pocket jacket. SPC began printing direct-to-board (DtB) gatefold style jackets – using either the “two piece style” which married two pieces of board together, or the “one piece style” in which a single piece of board was folded over to produce the jacket.
Quickly, the paper wrapped jacket was dead and the direct-to-board jacket was the market. Very few jacket manufacturers offered anything in the paper wrapped variety, with the exception being set-up boxes. Even Modern and Imperial had converted to direct-to-board.
In 1976, SPC purchased its first (used) Winkler and Dunnibier (W+D) “Record Sleeve” machine – which made a higher quality jacket than the Discolops, and at a higher rate of speed. They also could be converted to make a 2/D (2 disc) single jacket with expanded sides to accommodate two discs inside of the one pocket (adding a second new “Winkler” in 1990, the last new Model 802.00 W+D built, basically built from spare parts).
"...By 1978, the LaserDisc industry (first as "MCA DiscoVision" then as "Pioneer Laser-Vision") began to emerge ..."
Requiring more space again, Mr. Stoughton purchased the vacant land just north of the company and built a new plant better suited to its needs. Stoughton Printing Co. settled into its new home at the current address in 1978, adding another new Heidelberg press, this time a 40˝ two-color SORSZ (now allowing 12” labels to be printed 54 on a sheet as well).
By 1978, the LaserDisc industry (first as “MCA DiscoVision” then as “Pioneer Laser-Vision”) began to emerge. Though optic in nature, their discs tracked from the inside out and often, the glue flap in the inside of the direct to board double jackets created a hump or bump that would cause playback issues for the consumer.
This presented an opportunity for Stoughton to manufacture a jacket that could suit the needs of this growing medium. Since the paper wrapped jackets (which were now totally out of style) had no “seam” or glue flap on the inside – this seemed like a perfect match.
These LaserDiscs were the same diameter as a vinyl record, but much thicker than vinyl records of that time. Stoughton made changes in sizes and small modifications to the blank (base cardboard or shell that becomes the jacket) and the jackets were found to accommodate the thicker LaserDisc discs. The problem was with how to manufacture them.
In 1979, the company turned to it's customer, KM Records in Burbank to inquire about them manufacturing them exclusively. KM used the same supplier for the blanks and after some modifications to their machines to make them compatible with SPC’s jacket, they began to make the gatefold, LaserDisc jackets while SPC manufactured the DtB 1/D’s and 2/D’s in-house for both the Record Industry and the LaserDisc Industry.
Oddly enough, the only demand for these paper wrapped jackets was in the LaserDisc market and SPC added customers such as the Criterion Collection, Optical Disc Corporation (ODC) and Imation Optical Disc as it’s customers because of these paper wrapped jackets. The Record Industry stuck by the Direct-to-Board (DtB) style jackets.
To differentiate these jackets from the DtB version, SPC began using the term "Old Style" to describe it’s gatefold jackets (then referred to as "Doubles”) as early as 1982. KM Records was still doing the manufacturing for SPC then at their plant with SPC supplied wraps. In 1987, Westwood One purchased KM Records and Stoughton began negotiating to purchase their equipment lines from them to make the jackets in-house.
"...Stoughton even hired the entire crew that KM used to operate those machines in our plant, and they are still working for the company today ..."
The deal was consummated in the first quarter of 1988 and SPC brought all of that equipment in-house. Stoughton even hired the entire crew that KM used to operate those machines in our plant, and they are still working for the company today. Along with the jacket equipment came another SORMZ 2/C 29” press.
Other equipment was added or replaced throughout the ensuing years, and to keep ahead of the industry, Stoughton's first multiunit press was installed in 1983. The press, a Heidelberg 29˝ four-color (72V), helped the company venture into other markets, from the video and game industries to commercial accounts.
1985 marked another first, with the company's installation of a Heidelberg four-color 40˝ press with a tower coating unit. This 102V+L was the first such press delivered by Heidelberg outside of the European market. This press ushered in the present era of aqueous coatings in the printing industry.
In 1986, the four-color 40˝ yielded its place to a Heidelberg 102S+L, a six-color 40˝ with tower coater. This press was followed in 1989 by the acquisition of a Heidelberg five-color perfector, again with tower coater. The new 102FP+L opened up many new markets to Stoughton Printing, including compact disc packaging, full color books and catalogs, and other commercial materials for it’s steadily growing customer base. With the advent of the CD, the record companies were dying, though a small number of boutique, independent labels were pushing vinyl.
By the late 80’s and into the 90’s, many of these boutique labels were producing “collector” series of records with re-releases of “evergreen” titles that just would not go away. Even the major labels were jumping on the bandwagon and licensing their product to these independents and having them do the complete project all the way down to distribution as the majors were totally out of the vinyl business. Several of the record companies SPC dealt with were requesting jackets that were done like they used to be, not the "new" direct to board style which had really come in the late 60's through the heydays of the 70’s for vinyl. The reason for the unique “Old Style” name was to differentiate that style from the direct to board (DtB) gatefold jackets that Shorewood Packaging, Ivy Hill and the rest were making at the time. Hence, SPC referred to them as "Old Style" as that was the old, tried and true method of manufacturing. (Stoughton Printing Company was granted Trademark Protection from the U.S. Patent Office for it’s brand Old Style®, Tip-On®, Old Style Tip-On® and Old Style Gatefold® jackets from 5” through 12” sizes).
Following twenty-five years of growth under his leadership, the company's founder, Jack Stoughton, Sr. and wife, Katie, took well-earned retirement. Sons Jack Jr. and Clay Stoughton, both seasoned veteran employees of the company, assumed the present ownership and management of Stoughton Printing.
With rapidly changing markets to service and new technologies to acquire and adapt, it became time to expand the facilities again. Following major construction, a new two-story office building now houses the sales, production and management teams. The old offices were gutted and removed to make way for a state-of-the-art platemaking facility and an expanded, climate-controlled pressroom. The changes to the pressroom were especially important, for the old 72V warhorse gave way to Stoughton's acquisition of more gray German iron, a Heidelberg Speedmaster 74-6-LX. This new press is a high speed six-color 29˝ with tower coater, extension, and automation.
In October of 1999, Pioneer Video had eclipsed 1,000,000 LaserDiscs per month, and Stoughton did nearly all of the packaging. By December of that same year, Pioneer announced they were abandoning the LaserDisc format (except for Karaoke discs) within a year. In late 2001, they idled their plant in Torrance, CA.
Due to the increased demand from the collector record companies and other independents, SPC had begun experimenting with an “Old Style Tip-On®” single jacket – and in December of 2001, SPC rolled out it’s first “Old Style Tip-On®” 12” jacket – a reissue of the "Dave Brubeck – Timeout" album. It was a huge success. The company could not meet the demand between the new, “Old Style Tip-On Jackets®” and the “Old Style Gatefold Jackets®” combined. Capacity was an issue.
Early in 2002, the company purchased two gluers from auction in Philadelphia that were used to produce heart shaped Valentine candy boxes. After some heavy modification to these machines, they were ready to manufacture “Old Style®” jackets and thus raised the capacity.
In October of 2013, SPC purchased the assets of Racine Paper Box in Chicago and began rebuilding and modifying those gluers to put them into production. After much modification, rebuilding and updating all electronics - the company succeeded in doubling it's capacity for “Old Style®” jackets – now offering CD (5”), 10”, 12” and even 13” jackets in Tip-On® Single Styles, Double and Single Pocket Gatefold Styles, even an exclusive Tri-Fold Style all the way to 12” – with one or two pockets.
Now it was time to once again, update the pressroom - and in October of 2014, a new 6/C Heidelberg CD 102+L 2X (Next Gen Press) was added replacing the other 40” Speedmaster presses. This press has auto plate hanging, dedicated tower coating unit, auto color scanning and closed loop inking - printing to a G7 standard - the first press of it’s kind outside of Germany. Plate making was also updated with state of the art Heidelberg Supra Setter Direct to Plate plating system, replacing the older, ProSetter with new, chem-free plate technology.
It has sometimes been a rocky road, but SPC has built this brand and this style – we created the demand by making a superior product, at a fair price and worked unbelievably to deliver it on time.
When it comes to jackets in this music industry, Stoughton Printing Company stands for “Old Style®” jackets in a variety of sizes and configurations. A trusted brand from a trusted and respected house.