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Travelling the Dusty Trail:

S

uddenly, my body is immersed in frigid air and my nostrils fill with scents of wood, metal, and dust. The fluorescent lights turn on, and I follow Oliver Sanchez into the depths of his concrete workshop. He continues walking to station after station, turning on individual lamps, kickstarting a buzzing sound. The first desk immediately lights up, revealing a whole collection of knick-knacks, each carefully arranged against a wall, behind a huge metal contraption and stacks of paper. I see old and new movie posters, bobbleheads, art prints, stuffed animals, and a sled. Among all these, a sepia-toned west-

ern poster suddenly captures my attention as it effortlessly occupies three-quarters of the wall. I immediately recognize

the familiar face on the poster: The Lone Ranger.

By Elizabeth Miotke

Oliver Sanchez is the owner of Notaro’s Graphic Services Inc. in South City, also known as South San Francisco: the Industrial City. He makes prints and die-cuts for customers interested in paper products, such as business cards and wedding invitations. With the recent advancements and high necessity for technology in the twenty-first century, Oliver has been struggling to keep customers entering his doors. While San Francisco was at one time the largest printing hub East of the Mississippi, Oliver Sanchez owns one of the few companies that is still up and running, offering service to anyone in need. His wife, Adah Lee, reflects on the current state of the company by saying “there are a some handfuls of people that still appreciate him and the company he has.� (Lee). Currently, he works with his daughter,


Dawn Pulos, to help incorporate

ecute. “When learning became more

ing credit, because he already had a

more modern techniques into his

important, I found out I couldn’t

job lined up once school ended. This

business, with the hopes of satisfying

grasp what teachers were teaching

was his first introduction to paper

a wider range of potential custom-

me...I was pretty much a failure in

and die-cutting, although he started

ers. At the warehouse, Oliver gives

school because it wasn’t diagnosed

out operating a forklift. Ultimate-

his absolute one-hundred percent,

that I was hard at hearing”

ly, Oliver realized he didn’t want

but realizes that tasks shouldn’t be

(Sanchez). Oliver decided

taken home. During free time, he enjoys being with family,ooking with his wife, golfing, and watching the Niners play at any restaurant that has cable– the simple things make life worth living.

Growing up with hearing dif-

ficulties, junior high and high school

“I couldn’t grasp what teachers were teaching me...”

to work a forklift for the rest of his

- Sanchez

shop owned by Tom Notaro – Mr.

life, so he decided to look into the other available jobs at the company, particularly the ones that made the dies. As years passed, Oliver decided he wanted to start his own company and stumbled across a one-man Notaro.

was difficult because instructions

to pass on receiving a high school

Mr. Notaro’s shop was locat-

became important to follow and ex-

diploma after realizing he was miss-

ed in a little alley in downtown San


Francisco. Every Christmas, for four

banana split in a bowl, it made me

shaped in order to create the “banana

years, Oliver visited Mr. Notaro with

feel pretty good for a young guy who

split” outline. This paper process

an offer to buy the company, but every didn’t know anything six months

was brilliant, until most recently.

year, Oliver was thrown out until one

With the introduction of Evites

day, he received a call. It was from Mr. Notaro. The offer to buy the company finally came through – the only problem was Oliver didn’t have any money. He borrowed money from Mr. Notaro in order to buy the company. From that point on, the company’s name never changed. Notaro’s Graph-

“There is a future, not a big future, but more in a way of an art form.” - Sanchez

ic Services Inc. still exists in honor of

and E-mail, there is less demand for cards, letters, envelopes – paper products in general. Any service is practically available online with the click of a button. Birthday invitations were simply created in five minutes, at no cost, within the convenience of a home and computer. The delivery was almost instantaneous.

Tom Notaro.

Within the comfort of Oliver’s prior” (Sanchez). He created his first steel-reel die while working at Prewarehouse, I ask him about his very

larger audiences, Oliver shows no

first project – “It was the outline of a

mier Mounting and Cutting Co., his initial job in the industry.

This piece proved signif-

icance to Oliver’s life – he still remembers it as his very first creation, and could possibly be considered a piece of history in the book of Oliver Sanchez. It was a physical thing, an object that took up space. It was personalized: special metals had to be bent and

While Evites have gathered

rancor to the new method. “I think every art form has its place. To get a


letterpress invitation sent to me, it’s a

Colorado with an Oldsmobile – it

business or not” (Pulos). Today, Oli-

good thing. It’s a more personal item.

was yellow, you could see us coming

ver stands as the sole owner of Nota-

It took someone’s desire to have an

a mile away. I was fifteen and didn’t

ro’s Graphic Services, Inc. A man who

idea put down on a piece of paper”

have my license, but he let me drive.

submerged himself into the industry

(Sanchez). Although the need for

It was the craziest trip” (Pulos). Being

at the young age of seventeen still

paper products is decreasing, some

part of a large family, Oliver realizes

continues to pursue a lesser-known

objects are simply irreplaceable, such

a good relationship is key to main-

career that shaped his life as soon as

as a nice wedding invitation or busi-

taining peace and happiness. He is a

he finished high school, and sees no

ness cards. “People are always having

grandfather to eleven kids, a dad to

regrets looking back on his life and

parties, always getting married, so

six more, as well as a loving husband.

career choices. “I lived a wonderful

knowing that makes my day go good.

life, but I really owe a lot of my ability

There is a future, not a big future, but

when the Lone Ranger will decide to

to Mr. Notaro. Without him, I don’t

more in a way of an art form” (San-

head out on the dusty trail, back to

think I would have really been able to

chez).

his home. With the steady decline of a

be a successful person as I was, or that

need for printed paper products, Ol-

I am throughout this life” (Sanchez).

Aside from the daily commute

However, there is no telling

between Mountain View and his

iver plans to pass down the company

warehouse in South San Francisco,

to his daughter, Dawn. Dawn will in-

Oliver also enjoys time spent outside

troduce more modern techniques and

the workplace. Although Oliver San-

technologies to the company in an

chez may recently be struggling with

effort to kickstart the business once

the company, he most certainly does

again. The possibilities

not let it drag him down, especially

are now endless with

with the support of his family. “He

the computer’s role in

is always positive...always laughing,

the printing indus-

always trying to see the best of things”

try, which will

(Pulos).

ultimately

enhance

Sitting in his daughter’s

burgundy painted dining room, I ask

the quality of Notaro’s

Dawn Pulos how it was growing up

by using old-style

with Oliver as her father. With some

techniques, as well as

hesitation and a smile, she says, “he

keeping up with modern

loves to dance! He always asked me

demands. “He is fighting to

what the latest dance move was. His

keep the doors open and is prob-

favorite song was ‘Baby Got Back’”

ably one of the strongest fighters

(Pulos). Dawn also mentions a road

in the paper business, because his

trip Oliver took her on. “We went to

doors are still open, regardless of


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