Behind the Counter: Low Pro Graphics
Family-owned Low Pro Graphics prides itself on quality work and on being part of the Parkville community.
It'd be nearly impossible to miss Low Pro Graphics as you drive along Harford Road—they've got two window displays packed with neon-colored high-visibility safety gear. The print shop has been rolling out hand-screened, custom clothing at their Harford Road location since 2008.
The shop is the brainchild of owner Carol Donovan, who has a background in custom clothing, and her son Sean, who's been screen printing since high school.
They got their start in the garage of the home on Linwood Avenue that Carol and her husband Tom have lived in for 27 years.
"It's where God's path took us," Carol said. "We just kind of fell into it."
At first they were doing mostly contract work but they steadily built local business on the back of quality work and word of mouth. Four years ago they moved into the storefront sandwiched between comic book shop Collector's Corner and Just Audio.
"Parkville is such a supportive community, everybody knows everybody," Carol said.
"This community is made up of good, down-to-earth, blue-collar, hard-working people," Sean said.
"A lot of this stuff in the store you could order, but we get customers in all the time who say 'I'd rather keep it local'," Carol said.
Keeping it local is something they do well at Low Pro—self-described Parkville lifers themselves, they've done printing jobs for everyone in town: Parkville High's athletic boosters, countless Parkville Rec sports teams, McAvoy's restaurant, you name it and Low Pro's probably made a shirt.
Or a pen, or a mug, or maybe some pants.
If it can be printed on, they will print on it.
"I once printed some thongs," Sean said. "I've also printed on a clear baseball case that someone had signed."
Tom, who is semi-retired, is also involved in the family business.
Several days each week he drives the Be Safe, Be Seen mobile store, a yellow trailer loaded with the high-visibility work safety gear, down to the Port of Baltimore.
"I deal with truck drivers from all over, they come to the port and don't realize you need a safety vest to get in—I'm right there to help them out," Tom said.
The Donovans never planned on the Be Safe, Be Seen aspect of the business. Carol explained they just sort of fell into it, but it's been very successful—leading to new business with companies like Gray & Son, a construction company based in Timonium, and area steelworkers and dockworkers unions.
Soon Low Pro will get equipped to handle even more business. Currently Sean screen prints each piece by hand using a wooden block and elbow grease to force ink through the screens.
Using that method, an order of 300 pieces takes him two and a half days of work. Next week, though, they're getting a machine that automates the process and will cut the time to complete a 300 item order down to about three hours.
Things are looking great for Carol, Sean and Tom, and one thing is for sure — they're not going anywhere.
"The house is paid off, we've got our business here, we'll be in Parkville forever," Carol said.
Has Low Pro Graphics done a printing job for you? Do you buy your work safety wear there? You can review the store in our directory.