Middlesex Printing: 100 Years of History
Founded in 1921, our company has a long history here in London, Ontario.
Our story began with two brothers, Herbert G. Morton and Christopher B. Morton. The pair, who had immigrated from England with their families in 1911, stemmed from a long line of printers – printing is a family tradition that dates back to the 1800s.
The Birth of Middlesex Printing
After 10 years of working and growing their families in the city, they decided to build a business of their own. The brothers purchased two Chandler Price hand-operated presses from the founder of Sears Ltd., W. H. Sears, and secured space in the basement of the Empire Brass Company building in London’s Smokestack District.
Middlesex Printing Brings Forth a New Partner and a New Location
In 1924, they took on a new partner by the name of John M. Pearson and made a move to 143 King Street. The new location’s second floor unit proved logistically challenging for stock and equipment deliveries, and when Onn’s Fish Market moved into the unit below it precipitated another move to 557 Dundas Street in 1926.
Middlesex Printing Sees New Growth
The company was growing steadily, producing print publications and advertising for many businesses well beyond the boundaries of Middlesex County. Some of these included the University of Western Ontario and many local religious organizations like The Salvation Army. They also produced an advertising newspaper called “The London News.”
The Turning Point
In 1943 they purchased their first Heidelberg Press, a game changer for production producing prints at a higher speed and quality. Six years later, in 1949, they began construction on their very own building nearby at 425 Adelaide Street.
The Family Tradition is Passed
By 1964 they had 10 presses running and had grown to employ many press operators and typesetters, some of them family members. It was during this time that the torch had been passed to two of the founders’ sons, H. H. Morton (Bert) Jr. and R. G. (Reg) Morton.
Middlesex Printing Welcomes the Hull Family
In the late 1970s, the Morton cousins would put the business up for sale, and in September 1979 George and Marilyn Hull, along with their sons Jody and Terry Hull, became the new owners of Middlesex Printing Company. George Hull had a career in typesetting, working for newspapers in both London and Toronto before settling in Mt. Brydges with his family. There he worked for a typesetting company before he and his wife, a schoolteacher, started their own business, Supreme Typesetting.
As the advent of desktop publishing resulted in less demand for outside typesetters, the Hulls looked for a new opportunity and found it in Middlesex Printing Co. As the new owners, the Hull family worked side by side with the Mortons in their early years, learning all the nuances of the print business. They ushered in a new era of growth with a greater focus on offset printing, and within five years they found they had outgrown their location.
New Growth Demands a New Home
This is when Middlesex Printing arrived at 966 Leathorne Street where it still lives today. As the Hull boys found their places in the family business, they were ready to take over the helm when their parents retired. New equipment had been introduced to the shop floor over the years, but the addition of a four-colour press really improved efficiencies, as it allowed greater run sizes which cut down on production times. The bindery department added a folding machine and a bookmaker as well as a cutting machine. There would be many innovations over the following decades: incorporating computers and adding a plate maker replaced the need for typesetting, films, developing chemicals and darkrooms.
Middlesex Printing Goes Digital
One of the biggest innovations of the print industry was the introduction of digital, and the Hulls added their first digital machine in 2005. The shop was busy and still servicing some of those original customers such as Western University and The Salvation Army, as well as a long list of new customers that included Fanshawe College, Centennial Windows and Elections Canada.
Middlesex Printing Welcomes New Owners
In 2019 as the Hull brothers contemplated retirement, Brian and Sandra Hoekstra were looking for a change. Brian had a long career in industrial management and Sandra had spent many years in interior design and sales, and they were now ready to focus their energies on a business of their own. It was important to them that they not only find an established company, but also one with opportunity for growth. That is when Middlesex Printing Company, along with Allegra Marketing Print Mail, came into focus.
The long history of success that Middlesex Printing had achieved in London and far beyond was apparent. The opportunities that partnering with Allegra offered meant continued support and unequalled access to professional marketing, print and mailing services and a large network of vendors and suppliers across Canada and the U.S.
The Hoekstras have admittedly been fortunate enough to inherit an amazing, dedicated staff of press operators, graphic design, finishing, and sales professionals including Terry Hull – who, when asked how his day is going, can still be heard saying “tremendous!”
As the third family to own Middlesex Printing Co., now branded Allegra Marketing Print Mail, we are grateful for all the support that we have received and excited to see where the next chapter takes us as we celebrate this momentous 100 year Anniversary!