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Lifetime Achievement Award

Lifetime Achievement Award

Dick Kouwenhoven, Chairman and CEO, Hemlock Printers

Less than a year immigrating to Canada from The Netherlands in 1961, Dick Kouwenhoven began to form what is now recognized around the world as a trailblazing printing company not just in terms of its high-end sheetfed perfecting capabilities and bleeding-edge adoption of imaging technologies, but also in its environmentally progressive position.

The day after Kouwenhoven arrived in Vancouver, BC, he found work as a typesetter based on the experienced he gained from eight years of learning and working the trade in his Dutch hometown of Delft. Six months later he joined a small storefront printery by the name of Hemlock Printers and soon after took on an ownership role. In 1968, Kouwenhoven bought out his partner and incorporated Hemlock Printers, borrowed some money to install better presses, hired staff, and moved to larger premises.

During the 1970s, Hemlock Printers expanded with two large-format presses and began producing two-colour direct mail for Eatons, Simpsons-Sears and other major retailers. Hemlock became a true force in the Vancouver print market in the 1980s with the installation of more presses and, in 1986, moved to its current location in Burnaby. The BC facility expanded again in 1993 to make room for Hemlock’s full-service prepress department as the company began its world-first journey into computer-to-plate imaging with Vancouver’s Creo Inc.

Hemlock, which was one of the first independent printers in BC to reach into the U.S. market, is now one of the largest commercial printers in the Pacific Northwest, housed in a state-of-the-art 79,000-square-foot facility employing more than 170 people, with sales in excess of $30 million. It remains a privately owned family enterprise built on what Kouwenhoven describes as service integrity, quality products and a commitment to continuous innovation. Hemlock also now operates 100 percent carbon neutral and is a global business leader in sustainability.