Above – David Roszel, owner of The Clayton Press in Asbury Park, said he is closing next month after 114 years in the city. – Coaster Photo
By DON STINE
One of Asbury Park’s oldest businesses will be closing at the end of May and with it goes a way of printing that served the city well for more than a century.
The Clayton Press, at 412 Bond St., is going out of business. Founded in 1900, the print shop has served people from Asbury Park founder James A. Bradley, through the Great Depression and two World Wars, up to its present-day customers.
But owner David Roszel said it’s time to retire noting that the printing business has changed dramatically in the past few decades.
“I’ve been doing this for 49 years and I think it’s now time to retire and enjoy life a bit more,” he said.
When Clayton Press closes its doors next month, the last known letterpress printing business in both Monmouth and Ocean counties will be gone. Roszel estimates there may only be about six remaining commercial letterpress printers in New Jersey.
“The process still exists but it is mostly with printing hobbyists now, not with commercial businesses,” he said.
The Clayton Press was started in Asbury Park, in a building near the northeast corner of Main Street and Bangs Avenue in 1900 by Clark Clayton and a partner, who had left the business by 1902.
Clayton eventually moved the business to 626 Bangs Ave, and, in 1922, Roszel’s grandfather, Fred Davis, went to work for the company when he was 19 years old.
In 1937 Clayton Press moved to its current location and Davis bought in as a partner for $500. In 1951 Clayton died and Davis took over the business.
“I started working for my grandfather in 1965 when I was 14 years old. I would work there after school, on weekends, and over the summers. But it helped put me through college,” he said.
Roszel graduated from the West Virginia Institute of Technology, took his diploma, and then headed back to Clayton Press, where his mother also worked in the business.
His mother, Jean Davis, married David Roszel (Sr.), a carpenter.
“As a kid I loved printing. I was a natural. I never wanted it to be thought that I got my job because I was a grandson- I wanted to carry my own weight,” he said.
Davis died in 1976 and Roszel took over the business. In 1977, he married Nyleen Garrison, who has worked with him for more than 30 years.
But Roszel said the business has changed greatly in recent years.
“In the beginning, in 1900, it was all letterpress with hand- and wood-type that would be set, everything was set by hand. Then the linotype machine came along and now it’s computers and digital printing,” he said.
“It has affected the entire printing industry. There is very little letterpress printing going on right now. Everything is digitally produced,” he said.
Roszel said letterpress printing is making a comeback but mostly among hobbyists, not commercial printers.
“People are opening up a lot of small letterpress shops,” he said.
The two-story, 3,000-square-foot Clayton Press building has been sold and Roszel is also selling off type, plates and other printing equipment.
“There is still a demand for a lot of it,” he said.
And Roszel is not just deserting his customers, either. He has made arrangements to do letterpress work for Maclearie Printing in Wall Township for the next several years.
“I have so many customers who have become friends that I just can’t leave them in a lurch. I don’t want to abandon them without another good home like they’ve had all of these years. I’ll be taking a letterpress and some old equipment to Maclearie ,” he said
Roszel said some travel, playing more golf, and taking more frequent biking and hiking trips are definitely on his future agenda.
“I am in that area between retiring and not being able to do any of that anymore. I need to do it it while I can,” he said.
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