Rockaway At Work Mitchell Kohn, Co-Owner, Rockaway Graphics

NEWS
Typography

Have you ever wondered what people do all day at their jobs?  I have, and that’s the basis for this column, Rockaway at Work.

I wondered what kind of store Rockaway Graphics was, and what Mitchell Kohn did there. So I found out.

Kohn is a designer. He designs images for his customers and puts the images on different merchandise. He takes orders and reproduces the images on tee shirts, plaques, trophies, hats, business cards, signs, and refrigerator magnets. Images can also be placed on sheet metal or plastic or vinyl. The list goes on and on. He can make one item or hundreds, all the same or each one different.  When I was there, a customer called, wanting to make sure the 76 plaques he ordered would be ready for pick-up the next day. They would be.

Kohn does his designs on a computer and then he transfers them onto the different items. Sometimes the customer gives him the design, and just wants him to reproduce the image. But most of the time, he does the designing himself, by taking information about the business from the customer, and making the design. 

The customers’ ideas are very important to Kohn, and also encouraged. He says, “I do my best work when the customer is looking over my shoulder, making suggestions, and giving input as I go along.”

Kohn told me he loves his job because it is different every day. “I don’t do the same thing twice,” he said. “In one day, I can be doing ten different jobs. I’m always designing something, and then I have to build it.”

As soon as the customer places the order, he checks if he has the style, color, and sizes requested in stock to fulfill the order. If not, he places orders from his wholesalers, which get delivered to his store, and then he gets to work. 

A sizeable part of his business is “off-set printing.” What is that? He designs flyers, business cards, menus, letterheads, labels, bumper stickers, etc. on the computer and makes them up for the customer. When I was there, I got to watch him design a business card. He was very meticulous, making sure the design he put on the back would show a certain way as you flipped the card from front to back. The customer is probably very thankful he thought of that…I wouldn’t have.

He also does “signage,” making signs for the customer by painting onto sheet metal or plastic.  He can also make car and truck magnets, photos on canvas, lettering for a truck, etc.

I got to see the huge 54-inch Bubble Jet Solvent Style Ink Printer that Kohn uses to produce the images. The printer is hooked up to the computer where he does the designing. A vinyl image is printed, and the machine has a razor-blade attachment that cuts the image. He can then transfer it to whatever the customer ordered.

I also got to see his embroidery machine that just arrived in May. It sews letters and designs onto clothing. Kohn monograms bathrobes, puts names on backpacks, shirts, jackets, golf bags, hats, etc. Want some logo embroidered onto a shirt, in 16 different colors? Done! I was very impressed by the quality of the embroidery, and the multitude of fonts available.

His father, Lenny, approaching 90 years old, started the business, doing off-set printing, in 1975. In 1981, Kohn joined him, and expanded the business, adding signage and shirts and trophies, and transformed it into what it is today. This father-son duo is assisted by Hector Adorno. Kohn talks about how valuable Adorno is to the company, and jokingly refers to him as a “full-time hanger-outer, and a part-time worker.”

Rockaway Graphics is located at 91-19 Rockaway Beach Boulevard, and is open Monday to Friday 9:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m., and Saturday until 4 p.m. Six days, long hours, designing and producing different things all day… Rockaway works hard.

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