By Cathryn Spence
"Shortly after arriving in Canada, though, Andrzej, who had trained in Poland to be a machinist, was injured in an accident and couldn't work.
"But I also had a theology degree," he says. "I decided that if I couldn't work as a machinist, I would establish a Bible course for Polish-speaking people in North America."
To do that, however, Andrzej needed to learn how to use a computer, something he'd never used before.
"To me, a computer was like science fiction," he says. "At first, I thought I'd just be able to talk to it."
After typing up several different pieces for his Bible course, Andrzej had reached the point where he needed to print and photocopy the components of his Bible course. That need took him a nearby photocopy shop, where he explained his project and his needs to the proprietor.
"He showed me a machine called a Risograph, which is similar to a photocopier, but works much faster and more reliably," says Andrzej. "The cost of the machine, though, was so much I didn't feel good. Instead, I decided to provide that service to people myself, at a better cost."
Andrzej started his business, with a partner, in 1994, in the two-bedroom apartment he and Marzena were living in at that time.
"We had no room," Marzena remembers. "Our bedroom was what had been the living room. All of the other space; the bedroom, the hall, was taken up with our photocopy supplies."
Nevertheless, the business attracted customers, and continued to attract them in 1995 as Andrzej and Marzena purchased a house and moved their business into the basement.
"We put up a sign on Point Park Road, directing people to our business, but were eventually told we'd have to take that down because the area wasn't zoned for business purposes," Andrzej says. "At that point, my brother encouraged us to move to the Riverview Mall. He even offered to pay the rent for us for a few months so that, if we tried it and didn't like it, we wouldn't have lost any money."
But the business prospered from its mall location and, eventually, Andrzej decided to buy out his partner so that he and Marzena -- who often took in sewing during the early years of the business in order to contribute to the income of her family -- could go it alone. They decided to call the business Andrez Printing Inc. since few people can properly pronounce Andrzej's Polish name.
"Once we'd decided to go it alone business tripled," Andrzej says, "but the hours were, and are, long. Most days, I'll spend 12 to 14 hours here at the store, and then go home and spend another several hours familiarizing myself with a machine or a new process."
Andrez Printing Inc. now features two laser colour photocopiers, a Kodak photocopier, a Resograph machine and an offset machine that Andrzej and Marzena use to create black-and-white and colour photocopies, business cards, personalized calendars, and to restore photographs. "I have many friends to thank for helping me set up this business," says Andrzej, "but two that deserve special thanks are from Sussex Neil Obermeier and Fredericton Alan Graham.
They are people with their own experience in printing business who took the time to teach me what I needed to know."But in other aspects of the business, Andrzej and Marzena have only their own innovative spirits to thank. One such aspects involves a new, but growing, branch of their business.
Andrez Printing Inc. now offers video conversions."We can convert old films to VHS or DVD," says Andrzej. " We can also convert videos recorded on virtually any system from virtually any country to VHS or DVD."
The idea to offer this service came to the Marciszewskis as a result of their own experience in moving from Poland to Canada, but they soon realized that it was a service that many other people would also appreciate.
"Today, a great many people have family and friends in other countries, or they frequently travel to other countries and record or purchase videos there," says Andrzej. "Unfortunately, when they get home, their North American video systems can't read what video they have -- from Australia, Russia, or France, which has a different system from the rest of Europe -- and it's useless to them."
The problem, Andrzej explains, is that videos in other countries are recorded at a different speed and a different frequency from videos in North America.
"But the process to convert these videos is very simple when you have the right machinery," he says. "You need two units: the machine you would be able to play the video on, and a converter."
Then, Andrzej continues, the one player is hooked up to the converter and the converter reads the video on the machine it can be played on, converts the speed and frequency, and records the video on the machine it needs to be converted to.
"The first time I did this, it took me all day to figure out how to get it right," says Andrzej, who has converted all of his family's videos from Poland. "And, I had no way to know whether or not I was doing it right. Now, though, we have a Polish television so that we can double check our work and confirm, for our customers, that the process was done correctly."
Providing services at the quality their customers demand is a priority for Andrzej and Marzena, but it isn't one they'll be conducting through their Riverview Mall location for much longer. On Jan. 5, 2004, the couple will move Andrez's Printing Ltd. to its new location at 1A Wentworth Drive in Riverview.
"We think the business will benefit from the new, larger space, which is 1,600 square feet, compared to the 700 square feet we have now," says Andrzej. "The larger space will also allow us to purchase another, larger offset machine that will allow us to take on bigger jobs."
In addition, Andrzej and Marzena plan to hire two or three employees to help handle the amount of business Andrez's Printing Inc. is now bringing in. "We're glad our business has, and is, growing in steps like it has," says Andrzej. "It's allowed us to educate ourselves about our business in steps too, which has been a good thing for us."