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.
That first equipment was a Webendorfer 22, a 10x15 “Ultra” Windmill, a Multi 1250W with a T-51 head, a C&P 8x12 Platen and a manual Challenge Cutter. That was what you called humble beginnings.
Jack Stoughton, Sr. and his partners soon found that business was growing by leaps and bounds. Soon, Mr. Stoughton bought out his partners to better focus his vision of Stoughton Printing Co., it’s market and it’s service to it’s customers.
The company expanded and moved into the AMSCO building on Washington Blvd. in LA, installing a new Heidelberg KORD press and expanding their label imprinting and die cutting with a new ATF Chief 15, and two more 10x15 Windmills. Later, a KORS was added to compliment the KORD and print a larger sheet size (adding the ability to print label backgrounds 24-up). Quickly, new and larger quarters were already in order.
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 “slicks” were paper “labels” to be mounted to a cardboard shell and made into jackets. Beginning about 1968, these “slicks” became more of a focus for the company and were printed for such companies as 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) as well as a few others. These plants were all competitors in the jacket business, but all 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. 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 ..."
Re-locating once again to 5021 W. Exposition Blvd. in what was one of their largest customers former 45 plant — with room to grow. New equipment was added to again add to the capabilities of the plant. Two new Chief 15’s and another Windmill. 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. They worked side by side with the Heidelberg KORS — using the same size plate for printing, an added benefit to production.
In 1972, the company moved to the City of Industry, at 124 N. Sunset Avenue, 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 the SORMZ was added a 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 print 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.
Virtually overnight, the paper wrapped jacket (with Slicks and liners/inside spreads) 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.
Now the SORD was gone and replaced with a 40˝ two-color SORSZ (now allowing 12” labels to be printed 54 on a sheet as well). This press was virtually identical to the SORMZ’s except it was 40” rather than 29” in width.
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 802.00CD W+D built, basically built from spare parts).
On August 16th, 1977, disaster struck the music industry. Elvis Presley, “the King” had died. Like most everyone in the industry, SPC began to print everything Elvis – label backgrounds, finished labels, jacket slicks, inserts – you name it. The company literally ran around the clock, 6 days a week for nearly 8 months – all records in sales were smashed.
Requiring more space again, Mr. Stoughton purchased the vacant land just north of the company and built a new plant better suited to the company’s needs. Stoughton Printing Co. settled into its new home at the current address of 130 N. Sunset Avenue in 1978, nicknamed “the House that Elvis built”, adding another new Heidelberg press, another 40˝ two-color SORSZ (matching the other SORSZ already in production).
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 virtually 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 new style 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 this new style exclusively for Stoughton. KM used the same supplier for the blanks and after some modifications to their machines to make them compatible with SPC’s jacket design, 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 wholeheartedly by the Direct to Board (DtB) style jackets and shunned the paper wrapped jackets altogether.
To differentiate these jackets from the DtB version, SPC began using the term "Old Style" for 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 those entire equipment lines from the new owners to manufacture these jackets in house.
The deal was consummated in the first quarter of 1988 and SPC brought all of that in equipment house. Stoughton even hired the entire crew that KM had used to operate those machines in their plant, and many of them are still working for the company today. Along with the jacket equipment came a second 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 multi-unit press was installed in 1983. The press, a Heidelberg 29˝ four-color “Speedmaster” (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 “Speedmaster” 102V+L was the first such press with a dedicated tower coater delivered by Heidelberg outside of the European market. This press ushered in the present era of aqueous coatings in the printing industry. Sticking with what was familiar, this press took the same size plates as the SORSZ’s and had the exact same feeder.
In 1986, the four-color 40˝ yielded its place to a Heidelberg “Speedmaster” 102S+L, a six-color 40˝ with tower coater. This press was followed in 1989 by the acquisition of a Heidelberg 40” five-color perfector, again with tower coater. The new “Speedmaster” 102FP+L opened up many new markets to Stoughton Printing, including more efficient compact disc packaging, full color books and catalogs, and other commercial materials for it’s steadily growing customer base. An addition was done on the back of the building adding another 5,000 square feet to house expanded finishing areas and UV Coating capabilities was added with a Sakurai Screen Printer and curing tunnel.
With the advent of the CD, the vinyl side of the record companies was dying, though a small number of boutique, independent labels were still pushing vinyl.
By the late 80’s and well 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. A few of 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 smaller 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 into fashion in the late 60's through the heydays of the 70’s for vinyl.
The reason for the unique “Old Style” brand 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. Employing the newest technology to print the slicks and old world craftsmanship to produce the finished jacket itself. (Stoughton Printing Company was granted Trademark Protection from the U.S. Patent Office for it’s brand Old Style®, 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 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 was a high speed six-color 29˝ with tower coater, extension, and automation.
In October of 1999, Pioneer Video, the companies largest customer, had eclipsed manufacturing 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 virtually idled their plant in Torrance, CA. The workforce dropped by over 60%.
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 classic "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 to were ready to manufacture “Old Style®” jackets and thus raised the total capacity for output.
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 more than 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 delivered outside of Germany. With quicker make-readies and faster running speeds, this press eased what could sometimes be the bottleneck of production.
Plate making was also updated away from the ProSetter Blue Violet Direct to Plate technology and its caustic developer to the new state of the art Heidelberg SupraSetter 106 Direct to Plate plating system. The new SupraSetter features, chem free plate technology – virtually no developing of the plates.
In December of 2015, the unthinkable hit with the very unexpected death of Vice President and partner, Clay E. Stoughton. He had been with the company since 1979 and headed the manufacturing side of the operation. His son, now a third generation printer, Michael, stepped up into his fathers role – and the company nor it’s customers, never missed a beat.
Though it has sometimes been a rocky road, SPC has built this brand and it’s style – it’s Old Style® – we created the demand for Old Style® 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.