Turn down the alley at Rockwell Dry Cleaners to find the small-but-mighty Rockwell Printing Inc. Inside, the room flows effortlessly from one printer to another, machines humming from morning until evening, and the space is impressively tidy and organized, or, as owner Bill Dayka said, “it’s everything a big shop has in one small space.” 

Fun fact: the original owner, Carp local Steve Rockwell, took printing classes at Carpinteria High School for four years before starting a printing business in his family’s garage. In 1986, his father, Clyde, built the printshop behind the family dry cleaning business you visit today. That same year, current owner Bill Dayka came along, managing the business alongside Steve, until taking over in 2009. 

“I don’t know if I’ve received great business advice, but I acquired it over the years,” said Dayka. “It’s all about customer service and quality. Keep putting out both, and people will be happy.” 

Born and raised in Santa Barbara, Bill worked at another small print shop in Carpinteria before moving to town. Now, with three kids, all born in Carpinteria, he proudly considers himself a Carp local. “I kind of grew up (at Rockwell Printing). I’ve worked here since shortly out of high school,” Dayka said. “All my knowledge has been from working with Steve Rockwell directly, making mistakes along the way, as any business will do. Steve and I learned from those mistakes together.” 

So, what makes Rockwell Printing different from other printers? “We try hard to stay compact in our space, and we can bob and weave and change as needed,” said Dayka. “If a customer calls, I can walk right on the floor and talk to my guys to stop the job or change it. We can be more flexible and change our schedule as needed.” 

When asked the key to his success, Dayka said it’s a faithful tip many business owners rely on: consistency. “I haven’t changed much, and I had no interest in changing the way we did things after I took over, other than staying on top of the equipment and technology,” he said. Using quality paper is part of that equation, too, and Rockwell Printing uses a semi-local company, the Kelly Paper Store out of Ventura. And it’s paid off over the years, as a good reputation makes a business a long-term success. “We don’t do a whole lot of advertising; it’s really word of mouth.” Conveniently located on Carpinteria Avenue, Rockwell Printing creates business cards, greeting cards or “anything on paper.” Scoring, trimming and gloss finishing all happens here as well.

When asked about a trade secret, Dayka laughed. “If I said it wouldn’t be a secret! But honestly, this question stumps me, because customer service and quality are always paramount. That really is the cornerstone on trying to make people happy.” If he could advise his younger self, it would be the same advice he’ll give his oldest daughter, Kaitlyn, who may take over the family business one day: “Steady as she goes. Keep doing what you’re doing.” 

This family business runs smoothly, thanks to his wife, who works part-time with the books and Kaitlyn, a recent college graduate, who is learning to manage the business. “We try to keep home, home, and work, work,” Dayka said, possibly revealing his number one trade secret after all.

Rockwell Printing is located at 4850A Carpinteria Ave. For more information, visit rockprint.com or call (805) 684-0013. 

 

 

 

Megan Waldrep is a columnist and freelance writer, currently living on a 34-foot sailboat. To learn more about Megan, visit meganwaldrep.com.

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