Enquirer Printing Co. serves Hartselle for nearly 90 years
Shannon Parker remembers melting hot lead to be used in a Linotype machine in his father’s print shop as a child. At 12 years old, Parker worked for $1.10 per hour during the summer.
“I think back to some of the stuff I used to do up there when Daddy would let me come in and work,” Parker said with a laugh. “OHSA would probably shut a place down now for the same thing.”
The print shop, Enquirer Printing Co., has been in business since the 1930s and has been in the Parker family since 1972, when Shannon’s father, Clifford B. Parker, became business partners with his former employer Jack Hoffhaus.
In the late 1940s, Clifford’s start in the printing business was a humble one – filled with long days and nights at multiple jobs. Shannon said his father was, as a young man at the time, working for a doctor in Decatur who had a small print shop in the back of the old Lyons Hotel. When the Hartselle Enquirer was in need of a hardworking linotype man, Clifford was “lured” to Hartselle by owner Jack Hoffhaus.
At that time, the printing company and the newspaper were one business.
“Daddy would work during the day at the Decatur Printing Company and catch a bus at the courthouse at 4:30 p.m. to the old Texaco station across from where the print shop was at the time, and he’d work until about 10:30 p.m., then catch the last bus to Decatur around 11 p.m. and do it all over again the next day,” Shannon said. “I’m a hard worker, but that generation – there’s just something special about them.”
In 1972 his father accepted an offer to buy part ownership of Enquirer Printing.
After serving in the Army, Shannon returned to Hartselle and joined his father, becoming a second-generation commercial printing man.
“In 1993, with his health failing, Mr. Hoffhaus retired and moved to Florence, so he sold his interest in the company to me,” Shannon said. “He actually sold 49 percent to me and the other one percent to my dad, so he would have more controlling interest … I was still a nobody.
“Everyone always said, ‘You have got it made because you work for your dad’ and it did come with its perks,” he added. “I was a big deer hunter, and it was flexible work – but when you work for your parents, and especially my dad, they expect twice as much out of you as they would a regular employee. My dad was hard on me, and I had to live up to his standards, but it definitely made me who I am today.”
Shannon said he was fortunate to learn “the old craft of printing, and I saw the evolution to the new technology … My dad, he had been in it all his life, and he probably couldn’t turn a computer on,” Shannon said.
He said he has plans to retire one day but doesn’t see it happening anytime soon.
Little has stayed the same in the commercial printing business, Shannon said. “The first computer we bought was $4,000 and had to be custom built. I still have the Line-o-type machines that are a century old, and they’re still operational,” he said. “They really belong in a museum. There’s been a lot of changes from shoveling and melting lead to changing out toner cartridges.”
While the Hartselle Enquirer newspaper recently relocated its office to nearby Cedar Street, Parker said the Enquirer Printing Co. will be staying right where it has been since Thanksgiving weekend of 1976 – at its home on Chestnut Street.
“We’re still here,” he said. “The sign out front might eventually be replaced, but we have no plans to move.”
When he’s not running the print shop, Shannon said he enjoys spending time on his farm in Union Hill. He is engaged to Laura, and the couple plans to marry next year.
Enquirer Printing “runs the gamut” of commercial printing jobs, from business cards to books and pamphlets. Other services offered include faxing, emailing, digital printing and color copies. The business is open Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., located at 405 Chestnut St.
“Hartselle has been good to me,” Shannon said. “Morgan County has been good to my family through this business for all these years now.”