Ask Don Russell how CBI Print came about, and he'll say the business began in the formal dining room of the family's home.

But in reality, the genesis for the business, which now employs three  generations of family members, began in an eighth grade class Skelly Junior High in Tulsa. 

It was then, Russell met his now wife, Monica, and was sharing his new found discovery of letter press printing.

"I thought it was the neatest thing, and I was telling the girl in front of me in English class," Russell said. "She said, 'well I do typesetting myself.'"

It turned out, Monica's father owned and operated several printing businesses in Tulsa. She began working in the printshop with her father at the age of 10.

Russell said from that moment on, he knew he would eventually "marry that girl."

"Forty years later, we're still going," Russell said with a smile. "It's a love affair. It's not work if you really enjoy it."

The couple would eventually marry after high school and begin operating two different typesetting companies. 

"I grew up to love this art," Russell said. "It's fun to take a blank piece of paper and make something.

"I love this industry and I love the little girl who brought me into it."

In 1994, the couple moved the present business to Grove out of a desire to live near family and raise their children in northeast Oklahoma. 

It's had several locations, including one storefront in Miami, but for the last few years, its been housed in a nondescript on Highway 59, between the Fairland turn off and Buffalo Ranch.

The business began as Copy Box Ink, but as changes to the industry and the product line came about, the family rebranded it as the shorter CBI Print name. 

"Because we do more than just copies," Russell said. 

More about the business 

While more than 98 percent of the company's business comes from national-based clients, Russell said they are building a pool of customers in northeast Oklahoma.

"I like doing business with local people," Russell said. "I like seeing clients walk in, holding an idea in their hands [for us to create]."

In addition to Russell and his wife, members involved in the business include his father, Don Russell Sr., and the couple's children: sons Jason and his wife Shannon and Josh and his wife Rebekah, and daughter Chrystal.

Technically a fourth generation is preparing to enter the business as the Russells have five grandchildren, with a sixth expected later this summer.

The current 18,000 square foot facility includes everything from typesetting and letter press to newest multi-color printer made by HP. The business creates multiple products ranging from business cards, books, signs, posters, window decals, embroidered hats and shirts and more.

"It's just always a challenge to see what we can do with a piece of paper, especially if we do something somebody else hasn't thought of," Russell said. "I like to do something unique and different."

They are considering adding another 10,000 square feet to business later this year, with future expansion pending.

A Christian-based company, Jason Russell said the business currently employs 19 individuals. He said the company is in the process of expanding from a small business to a "middle-sized" business. 

They hope to do more work within the Grand Lake region, because as Don Russell explains "it's neat to look people in the eye and see how they are satisfied with the product."

Jason Russell agreed. He said the family likes to find ways to support organizations and businesses within the region. They especially like helping small businesses find ways to meet their printing needs.

"We've been blessed and we try to help out as best we can," Jason Russell said, adding that the company can offer businesses and organizations a way to ensure branding consistency throughout their product line. 

"Quality is a big thing for us," Jason Russell said. "The key things are customer service, quality and meeting all of the time deadlines."

Don Russell said their business is only limited by the number of people it can employ. He hopes students might look to the graphic arts area and find a lasting career.

"The industry is growing so rapidly," Russell said. "From laser engraving to the HP Indigo Crossbreed copier and press. It's phenomenal what they are coming up with."

Of their many clients, Russell is most proud of the work the company has completed for Mothers Against Drunk Driving, working through the Taylor Corporation.

"When you work as hard as we do, it's nice to know something you did makes a difference," Russell said. "A t-shirt you've made might make someone think before they get behind a wheel. Or it might get someone to sponsor the organization. 

"It helps a little bit do do work for companies that make a change in peoples lives."