Waterloo Business Defies the Odds
Waterloo - 30 years later, Tracey Johnston-Aldworth, owner/operator of Traces Screen Printing, can look back and say her small business in Waterloo defied the odds. It all started back in October of 1985 when Tracey & Murray Johnston, a retired engineer and business owner, purchased some used screen printing machines, & started up Traces Screen Printing Ltd. At the time, Canadians were still reeling from interest rates that had climbed to unbelievable heights and inflation that had taken hold of the economy.
“Starting out was a ridiculous learning curve, not only in screen printing, but in running a business” said Tracey Johnston-Aldworth CEO “ I could have never done it without my father’s small business acumen.”
When Penman’s, one of their largest clients went unexpectedly bankrupt in 1990, Traces Screen Printing Ltd. faced a loss of $20 thousand dollars on their books. It shook the small business to its very roots and threatened to shut its doors. Instead of folding, Tracey personally borrowed money, again from Murray.
Traces Screen Printing Ltd. has never looked back from that troubled time in its history. It adapted to every change it faced from a transition of hand written invoices & hand drawn artwork to typewriters then computers...discarding lead based ink choices & deadly chemical cleaners for environmental inks & air safe, water safe & people safe cleaners. Traces has always been involved in community events and functions.
In 2002, Tracey focused on rewarding her employees for their environmental efforts & hard work, by involving them in the success of the company. For the past 13 years, employees have earned profit sharing as well as an annual trip incentive for achieving company goals.
“They have never missed a year since we started profit sharing and the trip incentive,” Johnston-Aldworth noted. “It’s lucky 13 this year and for the first time, they have all opted to go back to New Orleans. Who has more fun than we do? Everybody goes or nobody goes…the ultimate team builder” Other Trip Incentives have included Spain, San Francisco, Portugal, Costa Rica & Caribbean Cruises.
Traces Screen Printing has also been honoured with numerous business awards including the 2013 Business of the Year (20 employees & under) Greater K W Chamber of Commerce. Award winners in Quality, Service & Environmental efforts, a tradition of excellence & community support. See www.traces.com for more. Tracey attributes “giving back” as creating long-lasting business relationships over the past 30 years.
Noted for her environmental work and community involvement, Tracey Johnston-Aldworth has been recognized with the “Ontario Volunteer Service Award” - Government of Ontario, the “Waterloo Award” highest civic honour for contributing to the community without personal gain - City of Waterloo, and “Woman of the Year, Entrepreneur” - Kitchener-Waterloo Oktoberfest as well as the “Special Recognition for Dedication and Support” award - Sun Life Financial Waterloo Busker Carnival “25th Anniversary” (24 years of consecutive committee volunteer work).