About Cushing | Our Printed History | Blueprints to Color | Cushing

In a commoditized industry, Cushing has persevered by choosing outstanding people, enhancing service offerings and focusing on innovation.   But the path is not a straight line by any stretch of the imagination. We have utilized three and a half generations of input to guide us down this path, and we continue to reinvent Cushing with each passing change in technology. If you like history, or stories about great American small businesses, please read on…


In 1929 (yes, the year of the Great Depression) Cushing opened as a blue print shop to serve a growing coterie of architecture and engineering firms. An ex-driver of a delivery truck, our founder, F. John Cushing Sr. made every sales call himself, to rebuild the company (National Blueprint Co.) he purchased from his employer.   Changing the name shortly after, Cushing and Company was branded with the colors orange and blue, mimicking the University of Illinois, and later the Chicago Bears, who housed their offices above Cushing for two decades.

Learn about a classic piece of equipment that appeared in the Cushing shop.

Coating diazo paper in the 1950’s for our own use, Cushing also became a converter of photographic and drafting films in the 60’s. Converting various Diazo media in blue, black and sepia tones, Cushing became a key player in the world of manufacturing and distribution. Jack Cushing Jr. uncovered a niche that afforded our expansion in this area: selling the paper and films to printing shops in the Midwest.

In the late 70’s, we complemented our service offerings by placing the industry’s first manned, on-site printing center in Chicago.   Shortly thereafter, Cushing was the first reprographic firm to add color copying services in downtown Chicago, blazing a new trail in the commercial real estate and corporate printing communities.

The next 10-15 years included the addition of electronic (CAD plotting) services to meet industry demand, a move from the Loop to River North and an expansion of color services to include wide format color display graphics.   Vertical markets expanded to include retail point-of-purchase displays, trade show and event printing and commercial printing outside the AEC community.


Significant Men of Cushing's Past Shaped Foundation for Future Success

As market opportunities expanded, high speed digital presses provided an avenue into custom book printing and brochure printing. Cushing added branded environmental graphics, signage and construction barricade canopy graphics to their list of services, complementing our design and construction offerings.

Owners Cathie Cushing Duff and Joe Cushing represent Cushing in the larger community, volunteering, sharing experiences, knowledge and best practices. Both are active in a number of industry and community associations with an emphasis on Family Business Development, including: City of Hope, Canstruction, SMPS, ACE Mentor Program, DePaul’s Chicago Family Business Council, SOS Villages, March of Dimes, ReproMAX and the Chicago Printer’s Guild.

The Cushing suite of services now includes cross media marketing, a cost-effective method to track customer engagement with printed collateral and digital outreach. It also includes scanning, fine art printing and die cutting; a service to bring just about any print marketing idea to fruition.

Additionally, we are certified nationally and with the City of Chicago as a Women’s Business Enterprise (WBE), led by our company president of twenty-five years, Cathleen Cushing Duff.   Ownership diversity is an added benefit to using Cushing for projects or public entities. Through our certification, we’ll help you fulfill your vendor diversity goals.

While much has changed in 80 years, Cushing continues to stand for:

  • Chicago’s very best printing service company
  • Loyal staff. Consistent follow through
  • Problem solving – We provide more than pricing
  • Enjoyable place to work with great staff rapport
  • Large loyal client base
  • Thought Leader in Print and Digital Communications
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