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‘One year of experience 59 times’

Petznicks Printing Company closes doors as owner Ed Ritter retires

Petznicks Printing Company has been part of the community since 1934, moving to the current location at 204 N. Elm St. in 1948.
Petznicks Printing Company has been part of the community since 1934, moving to the current location at 204 N. Elm St. in 1948.

Petznicks Printing Company closed its doors for the final time Wednesday in Creston.

Ed Ritter, owner of Petznicks Printing Company, made the decision to retire this year, with Petznicks’ last day being Wednesday. Ritter said the timing was fitting, given that he started working for Petznicks Printing Company Thanksgiving week of 1960.

“I had been working at a weekly newspaper in Audobon prior to that,” said Ritter.

Ritter first gained his interest in publishing his senior year of high school in Afton, where he was editor of the school newspaper that was printed by the Afton newspaper. Ritter worked at the paper throughout his stay at junior college, working at a different print shop while attending the University of Iowa, working mainly as a linotype operator.

“It’s a very obsolete business anymore,” said Ritter. “Using lead, they would set metal lines of type. The type was put in a form and I would print from that.”

Ritter then moved to Creston and began working at Petznicks Printing, working there for ten years before purchasing the company. Petznicks Printing was founded by Kenneth and Leona Petznick April 1, 1934 on Maple Street in Creston, before moving to the current location of 204 N. Elm St. in 1948. The business was created as a commercial printing department, with the Petznicks later selling selling school and office supplies as well. In 1970, the business was purchased by Edwin and Kay Ritter. Petznicks Printing finished merging with Greenfield Printing in 1989.

“My partner was James Smith,” said Ritter. “He retired three or four years ago. I figured I’m old enough to retire too.”

Ritter says he intends to spend time visiting his children and to get more involved with volunteering at the Union County Historical Village.

“I’ve been out and about,” said Ritter. “I’m going to continue at the village. Maybe I’ll volunteer a little more at church. I like the idea of having more free time. I’m going to miss seeing the people, but I think I’ll be active enough in the community that I’ll still be around them.”

Ritter says he has learned various lessons throughout his years while working at Petznicks.

“I’ve been here 59 years, and instead of having 59 years of experience I have one year of experience 59 times,” said Ritter.

The response from the community has come as a welcome surprise to Ritter, particularly noting the acknowledgement he received at the Creston Chamber of Commerce meeting earlier this month.

“You could have knocked me over with a feather at the chamber meeting that night,” said Ritter. “That was completely unexpected and I really didn’t know how to respond.”

Ritter takes the most pride in raising his family in Creston. His wife worked as a register nurse and the two raised three daughters in the community. Along with that, Ritter says he is grateful for the community, the customers and former employees of Petznicks.

“Creston has been real good to us,” said Ritter. “I appreciate very much the business the community has given to us over the years. I hope I’ve been as good to them.

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