Manufacturing The Message

Everybody has a message. And Terry Smith, owner of Printedge in Cedar Bluff, is quick to note that his company has the marketing tools to get the message out.

“For four years in a row we’ve been voted the best printer in Knoxville by Cityview readers,” Smith says. “I think it’s because they can tell they’re dealing with experienced, knowledgeable people. We instill in our people all the time, ‘No matter how busy you are, you slow down and help customers with the project they’ve brought in.’ Customers comments online tell the whole story: ‘Printedge always pulls it off.’ ‘They make us look good.’

“Business cards, brochures, signs, banners, direct mail, promotions, trade show exhibits and handouts, vehicle graphics, elevator door wraps, apparel… name anything you want to name and we do it because we manufacture marketing tools,” he says. “That’s what makes us so different. We either print it, copy it, build it, sew it, design it, paint it. It’s a unique place to come to. We have a combination of equipment that does everything and we have amazing people who have been here on average 15 years. When someone comes in the front door, they’re dealing with knowledgeable staff.”

Smith says a large portion of what Printedge does isn’t traditional printed material.

“We do a lot of environmental graphics,” he says. “You make a space enjoyable to be in and communicate a message. For example, working with Robin Easter Design, we’ve done work in the baggage handling area at Tyson-McGhee Airport. The whole area has been changed to tell about TN state and national parks and make you feel as if you’re in a forest.

“We do a lot of business lobbies, including wrapping elevator doors with a message. A lot of companies change the message every three months. Another great place to get your message out is with vehicle graphics and wraps­—it works.

“We’re a family business,” he says. “My wife Melody and I have four boys and one girl.

Being an entrepreneur, I guess I’ve been a role model. Two of my sons have a business together in Maryville. My son Benjamin has been with me for 27 years. My youngest son, Guyer, who goes to Pellissippi, also works with me; and my daughter-in-law Lori, and my wife.”

Smith has lived here since 1984, but grew up in Dayton, Ohio. He went to architecture school at Ball State University and then shifted his career path to printing, starting as an entrepreneur owning Pip Printing stores.

Along the way, his parents also chose to live in Tennessee, planting themselves in a large house in Knoxville so friends traveling down I-40 could stop and spend the night. Eventually, to Smith’s surprise, he found himself in a Pip Printing training class with his father, who had also decided to get into the printing business.   

“One time when I came back to Knoxville to visit my parents, my dad said, ‘I’d like to retire, so why don’t you buy the store from me?’ I liked Knoxville so well I decided to do it. This is where I wanted to stay and live. We became an independent business and have expanded what we offer.”

Now Printedge has 20 employees and one of the things Smith says he’s proudest of is the opportunity to provide employment and a warm, family-like atmosphere for his employees while meeting the needs of his impressive list of customers. 

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