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Jet Age?

In the mid-1970s, Jeff Blow was introduced to the contraption on which he would base his career.

Jeff Blow has worked all his life to become a jet setter of the central Vermont printing community

by Craig Bailey

(Originally published in Business People, April 1999. Photos: Jeff Clarke)

How Modern Entered the Jet Age

In the mid-1970s, Jeff Blow was introduced to the contraption on which he would base his career. As a teenager who occasionally spent more hours working at his family’s Barre print shop than he did in school, Blow immediately recognized the company’s first envelope press as an opportunity that practically hummed his name.

Twenty-five years later Blow has traversed three generations of shifting family involvement, finicky suppliers, Act 250 and a meddlesome neighbor to rise to the top of Jet Service Envelope Co. Inc. The Berlin business, which evolved from the former Modern Printing Co. Inc., is Vermont’s only printer specializing in the increasingly competitive field of envelope work.

Blow, 43, seems proud of that distinction, but prouder of his business’s rich history in the Granite City. If he has any regret it’s not that he’s spent his life working in an industry suggested by his family. Instead it’s that the relative simplicity of operating a small business is a thing of his past.

 Jeff Blow hopes his children will be interested in carrying on the family business someday. Jet Service Envelope Co. in Berlin grew out of Modern Printing Co., the Barre business Blow’s grandfather purchased in 1945.

“You always want to grow. Unfortunately you grow with headaches,” Blow says. “Whether you do $200,000 a year — or $2 million or $25 million — you’re going to have headaches in proportion.”

If growth is trouble, Blow has no one to blame but himself. The proposal to grow Jet Service out of Modern Printing and move it to a separate facility 10 years ago was his.

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