123 YEARS STRONG
Just over 123 years ago, when William McKinley ran our 45-state country from the White House, when Teddy Roosevelt and his Rough Riders charged up San Juan Hill in an incredibly decisive battle during the Spanish-American War, when Hawaii was annexed by the U.S. as a territory and when Will Kellogg accidentally invented a breakfast cereal called Corn Flakes, a man with a desire to help his family planted the seeds for one of the oldest and most successful printing companies the United States has ever seen.
TIMELINE OF EVENTS
THE COMPLETE HISTORY OF INTERNATIONAL TICKET COMPANY
THE EARLY YEARS
Charles Manshel immigrated to the United States from Austria with his parents as a young boy in 1891, settling in Providence, Rhode Island - one of the largest cities in the country at the time with a population of close to 175,000. Life was good. Work was plentiful for Charles’ father, and Charles’ social circle grew due to the ever-growing immigrant population that the bustling community attracted. Providence became a hub for the jewelry, silver and manufacturing industries.
The Manshel’s lived a happy life, until tragedy struck when Charles’ father died when Charles was just 16-years-old. Becoming the head of the household and seeing the need to support his family despite still being enrolled in high school, Charles taught himself to run a printing press in the family’s basement, selling business products to the ever-expanding town as well as tickets to a brand new, electric trolley system that was the main source of transportation for many Rhode Islanders. Charles could be regularly seen along Mill Street in Providence delivering his wares in a two-wheeled pushcart.
Gaining invaluable experience in the printing industry under his own accord, Charles soon found work with Sun Printing Company, which he eventually purchased from the owner’s widow upon the owner’s death in 1898. The company was quickly rebranded as the Sun Ticket Printing Company, as the new owner sought to focus on printing complete lines of tickets for railroads and other types of transportation lines.
1898 was a monumental year on a personal level for Charles too, as he wed a Lithuanian immigrant named Anna Bliss. The couple had three children – Milton in 1900, Harold in 1904 and Charlotte in 1908. All three would go on to play an integral role in the history of their father’s printing company.
Charles purchased the company at the right time, as the motion picture industry was just getting off the ground in 1903, forcing neighborhood theaters to sprout on every corner. Paired with the bustling business of printing tickets for railroads, Charles added the moving pictures to his portfolio, becoming the go-to for theatre tickets in rolls.
Towards the end of World War I, Charles thought it prudent to move the main operations of the organization to New York City to be in closer proximity to the theaters and railroads. In 1917, a 40,000-square-foot factory was constructed on the corners of Grafton Avenue and Oraton Street in Newark, New Jersey, where the company’s main offices would be held until the turn of the century. At this time, Charles rebranded the company once again, dubbing it the more familiar name of International Ticket Company – or ITC.
Charles Manshel was a man who made ideas come to fruition. Not only was he a printing entrepreneur, but he was also an inventor. Looking to efficiently change the ticket printing game, Charles developed a specially built rotary press in 1921 that put the section, row and seat numbers on the end of each printed reserved seat ticket used for the opera, ballet, theater, sporting events and more. Prior to this development, that information would be handwritten on each individual ticket. The addition of Charles’ design allowed the company to print a million tickets a day.
Business was booming. Not only did the move to New Jersey allow ITC to better serve the theater and railroad clients, but Charles positioned the company to become a leader in the garment, shoe and furniture industries. Realizing that these industries needed labels for identification, tags for advertisement, piecework production control tags for the garment factory workers who worked on bundles of goods guided through the various plants and payroll tickets for the company owners in order to properly pay their employees, ITC began heavily producing such items. Unlike typical, woven tags and labels, ITC became one of the leading producers of processed silk, satin, linen and cotton labels that enticed garment industries due to their extended life and cheap price. Clients at the time included two of the largest American retail enterprises in Montgomery Ward and Sears. ITC’s slogan became “tickets, tags and labels.”
By the 1920s, what Charles Manshel originally intended to be a way to keep his family financially afloat after the untimely death of his father in the late 1890s grew to become one of the most successful printing companies in the United States. Things only got better.
CHANGE BRINGS OPPORTUNITIES
As the world changed, so did ITC. The advancements in machinery and technology altered the way printing was done, as well as the items that were printed. The old way of manufacturing was phased out. As these transitions took place, so did transitions within ITC.
Charles’ sons, Milton and Harold, as well as son-in-law Arthur Krieger were brought into the family business, and this new generation helped move ITC into the new age.
An engineer, Milton ran the manufacturing portion of the business before following in his father’s footsteps as ITC’s second president upon Charles’ retirement in 1948. Harold became vice president and was instrumental in the marketing of the company. Arthur, who was married to Charles’ daughter Charlotte, was educated in textiles, running ITC’s vat dye engraved label business until his early death in 1967.
From the 1940s to the 1970s, ITC truly blossomed as an industry leader. The company was active during World War II, producing war ration books for the federal government when sugar and gasoline were rationed. Additionally, ITC also made labels for every garment and tent the government bought for a time during the war.
Following World War II, ITC continued to produce tickets for the railroads, landing huge accounts with a majority of the railroads along the east coast, including the Long Island Railroad and Pennsylvania Central.
In the 1950s, the International Ladies Garment Workers Union (ILGWU) and the Amalgamated Clothing Workers Union (ACWU) decided they would have a label in every garment made by them to showcase American workmanship. For many years, ITC was the sole maker of these labels.
Individual and season tickets for a plethora of professional and college sports teams also became a tremendous source of business for ITC. The company printed tickets for football, baseball, basketball, soccer and hockey teams, including – but not limited to – the San Diego Chargers, Minnesota Vikings, Miami Dolphins, Boston Celtics, New Jersey Nets, Washington Capitals and Tulsa Roughnecks. With the hub of the business being near the Big Apple, ITC also printed all New York Giants, Jets, Yankees, Mets, Knicks and Cosmos tickets, as well.
ITC continued to be the pacesetter in innovation, too, as the company was one of the first in the nation to manufacture pressure sensitive labels (stickers on labels), becoming one of the original companies to print the pressure sensitive labels for United Fruit Company’s Chiquita bananas in 1963.
In the 1970s, the original lottery tickets for the State of New Jersey (Clover Club) were printed by ITC.
With the advent of computers, ITC began printing continuous tag business forms with side hold punches that could be printed on computer printers.
The family business continued to grow. Much like their parents, a third generation of family members began assuming key roles within ITC. An engineer like his father, Milton Jr., ran manufacturing until 1976 when he went on to build a successful law practice. Harold’s son, Roger, came on board in 1961 and served as vice president of marketing until 1976 when he became president upon his uncle’s retirement. Roger continued as president of ITC until 2014 when he became chairman.
While the company maintained the success it built throughout the early portion of the 20th century, the printing industry – especially the ticket printing industry – was declining. As the company approached its 100th anniversary, the developments of thermal paper and thermal tag stock meant business could purchase their own equipment and print their own thermal tickets. Companies and even individuals with personal computers and printers did not need commercial printing services like they once did.
Recognizing industry changes, ITC changed its business model, moving from printing to a printing brokering company. From 1989 to 1991, ITC sold much of its equipment to Globe Ticket in Pennsylvania, Jordan Graphics in North Carolina and Premier Southern Ticket Company in Ohio, all larger businesses in the ticket printing industry, and moved its office from Newark to Whippany, New Jersey. ITC agreed to represent Globe, Jordan and Premier Southern and still uses them as sub-contractors for printing work today with new and long-standing clients, including Academy Bus LLC, The New Jersey State Fair, The Far Hills Races, Coach USA and Katz’s “Famous” Deli in New York City.
MOVING TO THE DIGITAL AGE AND BRANCHING OUT
The advent of the digital age led Charles’ great-grandson, Larry Manshel, to guide the company’s transformation into a promotional products and services business and, ultimately, to the success full-service promotional marketing group it is today. Larry joined the business in 1991, preserving long-standing relationships with legacy clients while building new ones. During this time, Roger and Larry recognized the opportunity for ITC to help its clients grow their businesses through promotional branding.
In 2003, Larry and his wife Elizabeth opened ITC’s New Orleans office, transitioning the company’s business model to one of a successful full-service promotional marketing company while rebranding the business at ITC4Promos).
In 2016, Larry became the outright president of the company, becoming the fourth generation of Manshel’s to run the 100-plus year business. Larry and Elizabeth rebranded the company once again to ITC4Promos, emphasizing the fourth generation of Manshel’s to operate the family business.
Today in 2021 there is a new addition to ITC, a 5th generation, Margaret Rose (Margeaux) Manshel. She is an owner and an important part of the future of ITC. Her insights into the Gen Z mindset and her developing marketing skills are exactly what ITC needs to keep moving this company forward.
The fact that ITC4Promos has been around for 123 years is a testament to relationships built over the years with a wide array of clients who are influential in their own fields in addition to the perseverance of the Manshel family to continue growing and adapting as the industry has changed. Despite the industry shifts over time, ITC4 has maintained its core values of being able to provide each and every client with a personal, innovative and creative opportunity to help better brand their business.
For over 100 years, the business Charles Manshel began in his basement continues today with the rest of the story yet to unfold. Stay tuned!