1925 6th Street, Tuscaloosa, AL 35401

About us

1947-2015: A Brief History

Company History


  •  Mr WB Drake established Drake Printers in 1947.
  • Bill Strickland, Chairman of the Board, started to work for Mr. Drake as a salesperson in the early 1950’s. He became president of the company in the 60’s and became sole owner in the in the early 1970’s
  • George Strickland, President, started in the family business in 1987.


Improvements In Printing Technology


  • Letterpress (show cut samples).
    • Letterpress is just like it sounds. You use actual raised type that you roll a layer of ink over, then you make an impression onto a piece of paper. We still have our old hand type cabinets, where each letter is assembled by hand before printing. We also had (and still have one) linotype machines.that would set one line of type using hot metal, that you would assemble into a form prior to printing.
  • Offset Lithography – based on the principle that oil and water don’t mix.
    • The original process involved taking your artwork, and taking a picture of it using film and a large camera. These negatives would be imposed by hand or “stripped” into flats, that you lay over a plate, use a vacuum frame and a light source and “burn” the plate. These burned areas repel water. You then mount these plates onto the printing press. The press has a water system that rolls a thin layer of water over the plate, and an ink system that rolls ink over the plate, where the ink only sticks to the areas that repel water. This is then transferred onto the paper.
  • Direct to Plate
    • About 7 years ago we invested in new equipment that streamlines this process. Basically the electronic artwork is automatically imposed using computer software and the imposition is burned directly onto the plate using a laser imagesetter. This allows us to be much more productive and achieve much higher quality and accuracy.
    • New Press Equipment: At the same time we invested in 2 new printing presses with many automated features including automatic plate loading, automatic wash-up and automated setup and startup, in addition increased speed and quality.
  • We also have invested in digital printing equipment including toner and ink jet based output. This area of our business continues to grow, and it is perfect for short run color and b&w jobs, as well as large format posters and banners..
  • Environmental Improvements, in ink and pressroom processes is greatly improved with direct to plate, and digital printing. We no longer use any chemical developers for film and plates.
  • Almost 100% of the paper we use is FSC or SFI (Sustainable Forestry Initiative) certified. These certifications include standards for timber producers and paper-makers that insures that the paper is produced in an environmentally responsible way.