Ricardo García recalls his childhood as "unusual". While his friends and schoolmates played in parks and playgrounds, Ricardo would joyfully wander through the printing factory owned by his father, don Luis. The smell of paper and ink is etched in his soul, and those experiences led him to take the reins of the company, Hera Printing Corp., extending his father's legacy.
"My entire childhood was spent running up and down the aisles of the shop. There have been times when I've talked to people much older than me about certain moments that happened in the past and they say, 'no way, you were too young, you can't know that'. But I have been involved in the business all my life," said Ricardo.
Founded in 1978 by Luis García, Hera Printing Corp. is one of the most prominent printing companies in Puerto Rico and the Caribbean. In an era where digital seems to triumph over physical, Ricardo and don Luis keep their faith in printing, while providing a service of excellence that offers their wide portfolio of clients, superior quality, creative and unique products.
By the 1970's, don Luis was working in an office supply store and after years of relationship with a small printing company that bought rubber stamps and paper, among others, he developed a passion for the shop. Such was his love that when the owner of the printing shop decided to retire, don Luis didn't hesitate to buy it.
"That printing shop was very small, it only had two presses and could only print things like brochures, loose sheets, and simpler projects," don Luis recounted.
Today, the company has expanded far beyond what don Luis ever imagined, with two physical facilities- one in Santurce and the other in Bayamón- with the capacity to print anything the mind allows us to dream of.
"All profits have been reinvested in the business until we got to where we are today. This is something completely different, over the years we have continued buying presses, going to fairs and taking seminars to keep us up to date," said Luis.
According to Ricardo, Hera Printing caters to basically all industries in Puerto Rico, from pharmaceutical, banking, health, government, advertising agencies, startups, and anyone who wants to start a product and wants to do something of quality. Their doors are open for everything.
"We can do anything you can think of on paper, which is our specialty"
-- Luis assured
Aside from its commitment to excellence with its customers, Hera also has a promise to its employees. The company has around 104 employees, most of whom average 15 years or more with the company: some as long as 40 years. And business is one of family. One way or another, all of don Luis' children have passed through its walls, and two have stayed: Ricardo, and his youngest son, Miguel.
"We believe very much in the professional development and growth of every employee; many of them started in one area, and now, some of them are supervisors. Our general manager started as a designer, and now he is the general manager of the entire plant. These are people who have been with us for 25 or 30 years," said Ricardo.
Hera's heart is its people, and this is a great reflection of Ricardo and don Luis, and their willingness to help others. After Hurricane Maria hit, their main building in Santurce was left virtually intact, and both father and son knew they could use the situation to do good.
"We were aware that there were a lot of fellow printers who had shut down business, but they had ongoing commitments to their customers. So, we started working and helping them do their printing for their clients and we did ours. We started working eight hours, then ten, then 12, then 14 and we went up to 20 hours a day. At 20 hours we shut down because we were afraid that the generator was going to go out," said don Luis.
For Ricardo, this as well as other moments with his father have taught him to do things the right way, putting others first. Ricardo believes that his father does not see his competitors as competition, since "he is basically everyone's friend. He has instilled in the importance of providing support to anyone who needs it, understanding that this is the right way to do things.”
That friendship also extends to his relationship with Popular. A customer for the 45 years that Hera has been in operation, don Luis explained that Popular has always been by his side, willing to make all his dreams a reality.
"Our story with Banco Popular begins in 1978, when this was still a dream, an illusion, a fantasy. When I went to the bank, they joined me in my dream and gave me the financial support I needed to move this printing company forward," said Don Luis.
The relationship between Hera and Popular doesn't end there: just as the printer is Popular's client, Popular is Hera's client. From calendars, promotions, invitations and all our printing needs, Hera has been there for the financial institution.
Ricardo and don Luis are optimistic about the future and relevance of printing. Although people think that paper will pass away and everything will be digital, the García’s believe that printing will always be necessary, especially as many companies are replacing plastic with paper products.
While Hera has accomplished many great things in its 45 years, the team aspires to do much more. They dream of growing bigger and acquiring equipment with new technology. They also want to export their product and prove that Puerto Rican-made products are premium quality.
"For me, I may have five, ten, 15 or 20 years left, but Ricardo has many more. So, making this dream a reality is his job. It is his and his brother's assignment. We want to continue this business," said don Luis.
Don Luis and Ricardo's entrepreneurial spirit, their dedication to their customers and employees, their constant search for innovation and their determination to promote the future of Puerto Rico are just some of the reasons why Hera is and will continue to be an agent of progress.
As part of our 130th anniversary celebrations, we present the Stories of Progress, which are portraits of commercial customers that show how Popular puts people at the center of progress.
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