Joe Lanich will tell you that he fell in love with the machinery.
“The machines have a soul. People stood behind these machines for generations. They helped people build homes, and feed their families.”
His sense of grounding and intentionality is heard loud and clear. He cares about the way the letterpress transitioned from a trade to a craft. The legacy of letterpress matters to him, which is why he left the world of engineering to follow his dream with Andrea.
Andrea Lanich also tells a story about purpose. Her drive towards letterpress was motivated by her own creativity. She wanted to design her own wedding invitations. As an architect, she was attracted to design and structure. And, as an architect, she was also feeling restless in her career. She wanted to change things up. It was fate that her first project was pressing her own wedding invitations. Her passion was punctuated when she then quit her job and letterpressed her resignation letter.
Alan Runfeldt, a mentor and owner of Excelsior Press, may have described the couple’s determination the best.
“You two are like bumble bees. They aren’t supposed to fly, but no one ever told them that, so one day they just did.”
And fly they did.
They got everything they needed to set up a proper shop in 2010, but it took a rescue mission to do so. The machinery housed in a basement near Philadelphia set them up for weeks of adventure. The heart of the journey, though, lied in the fact that the Heidelberg and the Chandler and Price presses that they saved would carry on the legacy of a business that a husband once shared with his late wife. It is a story the couple still carries with them.
With help from Andrea’s dad the machinery made its way to Kane, PA. Disassembled, reassembled, moved, and shuffled several times–the machines finally found their final home at 59 North Fraley Street. At every step of the way, the machines, Joe and Andrea, and their vision had a fan club. Families rallied, a community embraced them, and the business sunk its roots deep.
The Laughing Owl Press was meant to have an imperfect story because beauty lies within that imperfection. That’s the heart of letterpress.
The business was crafted and curated through hard work, friendships, challenges, and laughter just like the work that leaves the shop every day.
From tabletop to a garage, to storefront, a dream was built. And today, Joe and Andrea have a team that shares their vision. Every day when the door opens at the Laughing Owl Press, friends walk in and do amazing things. It’s no wonder clients adore their work—it already has a story.