Homs Printers: An Intriguing Look At Angeles City’s Best Offset And Letterpress Printer
& The Making Of Harry The Horse Word On The Street
Photos and Story by Justin Collins
As an alien in a foreign land I often feel the need to be extra attentive when it comes to doing business, especially with regards to placing an order for goods. When something as small as my dinner request comes out incorrect say, 62% of the time, you begin to wonder if you’re just not speaking English clearly enough, slowly enough, or if you have just flat out lost your mind. I know I’m not alone – every foreigner who has read this far in to the article would back me up for sure.
As ironic as it sounds, that is part of the process. After all, [insert finger quotes here] it’s “More Fun in the Philippines.” Through all the nuances of miscommunication, from tricycle rides to the public market, it pretty much goes without question that it’s certainly not uncommon for foreigners to be taken advantage of monetarily, that is, if the occasion arises.
However tricky as it may seem this particular philosophy does not apply to Homs Printers and owner Florian David, whose dedication to the art of printing, customer care, and quality assurance is unlike many establishments you find in the area. The proof is in Homs’ impressive client list, which includes numerous notable businesses utilizing their services such as the CDC, CIAC, Fontana Leisure Parks and Casino, Yokohama Tire, and Angeles City Hall. If you have you ever seen a copy of the City Guide map, produced for the Clarkton Hotel, or the Bluebook Advertising magazine, then you’re already familiar with Homs’ work.
The Origin of Homs
The history of Homs Printers begins as few local stories do – in the Middle East of all places. After nearly 9-years of working abroad during the 1980’s, Florian returned to Pampanga in 1989 with a desire to work for himself. Looking for an investment but not knowing what kind of opportunity to pursue, Florian chose to focus on printing after his brother gave him his first offset print machine. He officially started Homs beside his home while living across from the Don Bosco Academy in Bacolor.
Having made it through the Mt. Pinatubo eruption in 1991, along with the economic calamity it caused, a few years later the business had yet another major setback. The house and print shop in Bacolor were wiped out completely by the October 1st, 1995 rains that brought down the remaining pyroclastic materials from the slopes of Pinatubo, killing hundreds of people under a 25-foot high mudflow in the area Florian and his family resided. “We barely made it out alive, we were on the roof and it still wasn’t high enough,” Florian recalls.
Undeterred, he moved his print shop to Angeles City, and started printing where the current site of NT Realty is located on Malabanias Road. Shortly thereafter, the business made its final move to Barangay Anunas, where it has been operating at 353 Mekong Street in Riverside subdivision since April of 1996.
What began with a single machine eventually grew into a much larger operation, and Homs now has over 20 machines devoted to various aspects of printing, cutting, and binding.
Keeping It All In The Family
Having spent a fair amount of time around their office, you get the sense that Florian has done more than just build a business - he’s built a trusted brand where his 22 employees are like his family, and his real family reciprocates by assisting in every single facet of the operation.
His wife Ailane, and his 3 of his 4 son’s Howard, Hebert, and Harley, handle everything from logistics to machine maintenance, order fulfillment, all the way down to folding and stapling. Furthermore, his brother also has a print shop located in San Fernando. Speaking of keeping it in the family, it really does not get more family-oriented than this. Many of the staff with different specialties throughout the shop have been with Florian for several years.
“My principle in life is to achieve success especially when it comes to my family and my business. You need to focus on what type of business you do, the quality of your product, and the value you can provide. To be fair and honest to all your clients, and above all give thanks to God for the blessings He provides.”
Florian is a god-fearing man who has built a reputation for himself as an honest, hardworking individual who serves his community through charitable work, Couples for Christ, and as a head of the Ministry for Ancop (Answering the Cry of the Poor).
What You Might Not Know About Offset Printing
Producing a quality product requires an expert operator and staff. Each layout created by a graphic design artist must encompass the imagination and ideas of what is to be conveyed, and the operators must be highly skilled at running offset machines to achieve the desired result. If you can envision your simple home or office printer having the occasional mechanical hiccup when churning out just a few copies of your travel itinerary, imagine the odds of generating thousands upon thousands of prints without failure, all the while meeting the demands of your clients in the process.
Homs currently has four 2-color Heidelberg machines, as well as two 2-color GTO machines, which it uses to create orders ranging from full colored brochures and fliers, to guides, magazines, and well….newspapers obviously. These particular requests are often the most challenging because of the schematic colors necessary to complete the work. On another note, Homs does things like receipt books, office forms, and business cards, which are less complicated to print.
What’s In A Name?
Curiosity got the better of me when I approached Florian about doing this article. At first, the thought had slipped my mind to ask about that name: “Homs.”
People around town will say, “Where did you get that made, Homes?” “Homs, I reply back.” It goes without question that people either pronounce it right and then second guess themselves because the word “Homs” isn’t exactly proper English vernacular, or people will say “Homes” without noticing that they’ve gotten it wrong. After all, you wouldn’t call it MurcDonald’s, but then again after a few San Migs, who knows.
So which is it, “Homes” or “Homs?”
According to Florian, “Well, I chose the name Homs from the names of my first son and the son of my brother, but it is also a shortened version of Holmes Printers, which I discovered in the UK way back in the day.”
Word On The Street
I am amazed at the attention to detail Homs has provided over the last half year, up to an including noticing that the wrong month appeared on the template file for February’s print.
To think, had it not been for a key staff member no one would have noticed that February’s edition would have said “January” instead. They actually printed February’s cover page and went back to overtype the entire 5,000+ copies covering up the word January with February.
This paper, along with most other media-type prints that you’ve picked up around town, are fairly manually intensive in terms of the actual man-hours they take to produce. Because this isn’t a massive operation that only automation can solve, the equipment necessary to produce tens or hundreds of thousands of copies isn’t justified in the case of Word On The Street et al, and therefore Homs relies on good old-fashioned hand organizing and hand folding of each and every copy that goes out the door.
All these years most of us not familiar with the print industry have simply taken it for granted. It is safe to say that the production of this newspaper has well over 300 hours of labor in it each month, beginning with the keyboard and camera, and ending with the bound volumes of newspaper that are circulated.
The next time you pick up an in-flight magazine, a newspaper, tourist guide, you name it – pay a small homage to the people behind the scenes who made it all happen.