Rose Engraving Closes After 80 Years of Business

The Grand Rapids-based business is changing gears.

Grand Rapids, Michigan-based Rose Engraving, a paper engraving company specializing in letterhead, envelopes, and business cards, closed last August. Owner Aaron Muller plans to redirect the business into a greeting card company after having trouble marketing Rose. Rose Engraving was featured on the local Fox 17 channel to say goodbye to Grand Rapids after serving the area for over 80 years.

The business was founded on January 10, 1940 by William R. Hattersley. The size of the company at that time isn’t clear, says Muller, but it may have had upwards of 30 employees. Over time, Rose increased in size and scope and by the early ’50s, had around 100 employees. Eventually, it became a corporation with shareholders.

Including Hattersley, Rose has had roughly four owners. In 2014, the company fell into debt with its landlord, which is when Muller took over. Muller explains the company at that point wasn’t worth anything, so rather than purchasing, the ownership was transferred to a new LLC.

Rose has a long history with a unique process from creating President Gerald R. Ford’s funeral invitations to producing birthday cards for Samuel L. Jackson. What it offered was not the type of engraving you might find in an awards shop, but instead a process called Intaglio.

Muller adds that the shop’s presses are from as early as 1910 and as recent as 1980 with the only option being to engrave and foil stamp. “Rose hasn’t changed much… (and) I don’t think Rose needed to change. Right now, we are seeing a huge surge in local products, like craft beers. People are willing to pay more for a hand-crafted, small-batch product, but how (do we) market to the new buying power, the millennial when they don’t know this even exists?”

The only problem with providing a unique type of engraving is marketing it on a small budget, Muller explains. “Engraving is not necessarily a misleading and incorrect way to describe what Rose does; Intaglio has been called engraving for over 100 years, but it doesn’t fall into the correct categories for either engraving or stationary,” he says.

The plan for Rose Engraving is to slowly redirect customers to existing engravers out of state, since it is the only one in Michigan, according to Muller. “Eventually I would like to change the name to West Michigan Engravers and focus on affordable high-end greeting cards. Digital greeting cards have become expensive and often are too busy, so creating something elegant and simple would be the target.”

Rose Engraving shipped its last order to the president of the University of Michigan, and Fernie’s Greeting Cards, the company to replace Rose, will launch this fall. Muller says he is currently working with local artists for card designs.

As far as the old equipment goes, Muller is open to offers. The equipment includes a Cronite 3’X 8’high-speed press, Cronite 5’X 9’high-speed press, Kluge die stamping press, Champion paper cutter, and a Carver Engraving Press from 1910.

For more information, visit www.roseengraving.com.

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Julia Schroeder

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