East West Printing Inc. – Davis, West Virginia

East West Printing Inc.

Davis, West Virginia

Harnessing the Sun: A Rural Business’s Journey into Solar Power

In the quaint mountain town of Davis, West Virginia, nestled amidst the rugged beauty of the Appalachians, lies a hidden gem: East West Printing Inc. Founded in 1981 by Alice Fleischman and her husband Bill White, this small printing company has quietly thrived for over four decades, serving both local patrons and national clients with their unique blend of artistry and technical expertise.

Embracing the Mountain Lifestyle

Alice Fleischman’s, the president of East West Printing, journey into entrepreneurship began with a love for the outdoors. As an old raft guide who has called West Virginia home for over four decades, Alice cherishes the rugged beauty and recreational opportunities that the mountains offer. From rafting to skiing, she and her husband immersed themselves in the natural playground of West Virginia while raising their family of six.

“Living and operating in these mountains is more than just a lifestyle—it’s a deep connection to the land and its people,” Alice shares. “Despite our small population of 600, our town pulses with vibrant culture and economic resilience.”

From Raft Guide to Printer: The Genesis of East West Printing

East West Printing’s origins are rooted in the couple’s quest for year-round employment beyond the seasonal demands of guiding. With Bill’s tech background and Alice’s artistic flair, they embarked on a journey in 1981 to establish a printing business. Alice spent her life savings to buy a hand printing press, first working out of a friend’s basement then working out of an apartment they rented and shared. They used handmade dryers to cure the shirts.

Starting modestly with a hand printing press in a friend’s basement, they gradually expanded their operation to a factory of their own, catering to local businesses and outdoor enthusiasts.

“We started with handmade dryers emitting smoke everywhere,” Alice reminisces. “But through perseverance and creativity, we gained traction, especially with our unique river maps and outdoor-themed apparel.” Their humble beginnings were by driving around in a truck and showing people samples of the rafting t-shirts they made.

Today, East West Printing stands as a testament to the entrepreneurial spirit in rural America, employing a dedicated team and serving clients nationwide.

“There are lots of small businesses here and it’s a tourist economy. Businesses struggle with finding and keeping workers. We really value our staff and make them a priority. Many of our staff have worked in our factory for more than 20 years,” Alice said.

“From the outside people don’t realize how vibrant and sophisticated the culture is here, we have high end art and music, sports, and so much more,” said Alice

Shining a Light on Solar Energy

In 2015, East West Printing made a significant leap towards sustainability by installing a rooftop solar system comprising 40 panels. For Alice, the decision to go solar was not just about reducing energy costs but also about embracing environmental stewardship.

“We’ve always been interested in solar energy, but it wasn’t until we learned about the Rural Energy for America Program (REAP) that we saw a viable path forward,” Alice explains. “With the assistance of a REAP grant covering 30% of the installation costs, we took the plunge.”

Despite initial concerns about weather durability and the impact on their metal roof, East West Printing’s solar panels have weathered the harsh mountain conditions admirably, producing nearly a third of the energy required for their operations.

Empowering Rural Businesses with Solar

Reflecting on the process, Alice emphasizes the importance of access to resources and expert guidance. The streamlined application process of the REAP grant, coupled with the support of local extension agents and experienced installers, eased the transition to solar power.

“To fellow rural businesses considering solar, my advice is simple: don’t expect miracles overnight,” Alice advises. “But investing in long-term sustainability pays dividends, both environmentally and economically.”

As East West Printing continues to thrive as a beacon of innovation in West Virginia’s rural landscape, Alice hopes their journey into solar energy serves as inspiration for others, demonstrating that sustainability and success can go hand in hand.

“In the end, it’s not just about printing shirts or generating electricity—it’s about leaving a legacy of stewardship for future generations,” Alice concludes with a smile.

In the heart of Appalachia, where the mountains meet the sky, East West Printing stands as a testament to the resilience and ingenuity of rural businesses, harnessing the power of the sun to illuminate a brighter, greener future.