By Jim Denton
December 14, 2023

Impact on Edmond: Rhonda Wade & Edmond Printing

Explore the journey of Edmond Printing, from its early days to becoming a cornerstone of local business.
Rhonda Wade, owner of Edmond Printing (Photo: Brent Fuchs)

“Daddy was an easy person to work for,” Rhonda (Haley) Wade easily proclaimed as she described how she was hired by her father, Charles Haley, in early August on the eve of the 1978 football season. While Edmond Memorial’s highly-ranked squad was sweating through annual ‘two-a-days,’ Haley’s Edmond Printing was in the middle of its annual designing, printing, and assembling the school’s then 100-paged game programs for the upcoming 1978 Bulldog home schedule. Three of the four workers of the print shop failed to show up for work that late summer day.

His college-aged daughter, Rhonda, was working next door for her mom, Gloria Haley, in the family’s other business, Central Office Supply. Charles popped his head in the front door and looked directly at Rhonda, saying, “Are you ready to come to work for me?” “Wow!” thought Rhonda. But she’d already thought about this. Daddy was much more laid back, and Rhonda had expressed her desire to work in the family print shop. This was a no-brainer, and Rhonda replied with a grin, “Yes I am!”. From then on, Rhonda has been at the center of Edmond Printing.

Edmond Printing’s origins

History is a little unclear, but we know that Edmond Printing Company got its start as a part of the Edmond Publishing Company, which Frank Dobyns owned in the first half of the last century. We also know that the Edmond Publishing Company was the publisher of local newspapers known as The Edmond Enterprise, The Edmond Sun & Booster, and ultimately, The Edmond Sun. We also know that later, Charles Haley, along with a business partner, acquired the print shop at 13 South Broadway, where Frenzy Brewing is now located, in 1965. Charles subsequently bought out the partner after a few years. Edmond Printing is still in business and very much thriving today at 455 North Fretz in Edmond, Oklahoma. 

Charles Haley started working at Edmond Printing when he was in high school in the early 1940s. He got permission from the school to work afternoons, cleaning and helping the men who ran the printing machinery. Herman Kolb, one of the workers, took an interest in young Charles. Kolb taught him how to operate the “linotype.”

Rhonda described the shop as having trays of fixed type for headlines that took up a large portion of the shop. The Linotype printed text was typed using an unconventional keyboard. For a line of type, workers termed “printers” smelted slugs of ore to make the metal type that formed the letters on the printed page. A hot furnace was used to melt into long molds that hardened into type after cooling. The line of type (branded Linotype) operator had to learn a different way of typing on a very different type of typewriter. Due to the process, the shop always smelled smoky and was hazy from the smoke-producing furnace of seemingly eternal fire. 

While Charles was developing printing skills, Rhonda’s mother, Gloria, worked at the Rexall Drug run by Gloria’s sister, Nova, directly across Broadway from the print shop. Charles became a regular at the Rexall, stopping in for a Coke during his work breaks, at lunch, and after work each day. Gloria and Charles were soon married, and Charles headed to the Korean Conflict. Charles got to see their oldest daughter, Sharon, for the first time. She was already one year old upon his return home. He picked right back up at Edmond Printing and then eventually became its proprietor.

The seventies

After owning Edmond Printing for a decade, Charles and Gloria bought Ann’s Record shop in 1975, sold all the vinyl inventory, and turned it into Central Office Supply. Mother and Dad told Rhonda (a sophomore in high school) to have dinner ready every night while Mother worked at the office supply until late in the day. Initially, Rhonda was unhappy with the arrangement but was later grateful for the experience her parents demanded of her. 

Recommended and motivated by her high school journalism teacher, Mrs. Marsha Preston, Rhonda stepped forward to work on campus for Dr. Stan Hoig, who oversaw the annual CSU Bronze Book. Rhonda created yearbook layouts during her freshman year. She enjoyed the layout preparation for women’s sports and sororities. It was a great experience that would pay off later at Edmond Printing.

Early in her career at Edmond Printing, Rhonda recalls having to develop pictures using a darkroom. The preparation and printing of full-color photography was a significant process. Most of the work was physically demanding and required precision in every step. Back then, desktop publishing was the newest thing. The shop had purchased a “Quadratech” machine that had four different fonts and shot a laser.

Other than the three workers who walked out in 1978, Edmond Printing had a steady team of employees. Several worked until their last days of life. Charles was easygoing but still would require employees to devote time to their work. Young men could be difficult. Rhonda recalled a certain teenage boy who would often use the shop’s wall telephone to call one of his series of girlfriends. There was a long list of phone numbers of each of the girls’ numbers crossed through as he would move from one to the next in line. It was quite a list! Charles became weary of the time the adolescent was spending on the phone, and he would proceed with running a noisy folding machine while the young lad was doing his courting on company time. Needless to say, his flirty phone calls were abbreviated! 

She also remembers a teenage boy worker who had a forceful argument with Charles, and the kid left in a huff in his all-too-robust truck. He peeled out in the alley and sent gravel flying, shattering a large glass window. The young man returned hat in hand and apologized to Mr. Haley.

Charles was systematic at finding college students to work at Edmond Printing. He would annually darken the door of Central State’s Baptist Student Union (the BSU). His experiences proved that the students who were engaged at the BSU were usually good prospects for print shop workers.

The Wades arrive

Rhonda and Jeff Wade, owners of Edmond Printing (Photo: Brent Fuchs)

Jeff Wade started working at the shop while he and Rhonda were dating. Jeff worked weekends and between other jobs. Jeff’s family were business owners as well. Jeff recalled that the shop took two breaks every day at specific times. Everything stopped. The place emptied, and everyone headed over to the Around the Corner Restaurant, where the shop workers would congregate. This was somewhat frustrating for Jeff because he had just gotten his machine working right or was in the middle of a process, and then it was break time. He later construed that this was how Charles built the shop’s culture and developed life-long relationships with his team, shop vendors, and people in the community. 

At Around the Corner, Charles held court with many constituents. Jeff recalled that Charles would meet with his two main paper suppliers together. He helped them get to know each other and himself as well.

 “Daddy’s business goal was to just make payroll,” Rhonda recalled. Mr. Haley banked at First National Bank of Edmond. Bill Palmer, the bank’s president, was an Edmond High School chum of Charles and would loan him money on just a handshake when times were lean.

Rhonda takes over

The roles were reversed when Rhonda took over the business in 1995, and Charles became her employee. Rhonda reviewed the pricing and found that the shop was not pricing to fully cover its overhead and profit. Charles gave the Edmond schools, Deer Creek schools, and the City of Edmond discounted prices for significant work because he sensed an obligation to reduce costs for the community. To turn a profit required Rhonda to adjust prices and educate her customers on the value of using Edmond Printing. This became a multi-year process.

Her husband, Jeff, came on full-time in the first five years of her ownership. Working and being with a spouse all day is difficult on marriages. She and Jeff both had ideas about how to best do something. “Most of the frustrations are about technology not working right or how to price a job and not really the two of us working together,” claimed Rhonda. “Years ago, we concluded that we are both on the same team and working for the same goal. When we both realized that fact, things started clicking better.”

Surprisingly, one day, another local print shop owner named John Taylor walked in with a stack of files full of negatives and laid them on the front counter. He soberly looked at Rhonda and explained that he’d been diagnosed with cancer, and he knew he was not going to be able to serve these clients, so he was turning them over to Edmond Printing. Rhonda looked through the stack and noted that the files represented some larger, profitable accounts. She inquired why he was not selling them. John said, “I’m paying Charles back for all the favors he did for me…he always helped.” Note that John is a cancer survivor to this day. Ultimately, the clients that Taylor provided have led to Edmond Printing’s largest and best steady customers.

Location, location, location

As far back as Rhonda can recall, P.J. Stovall owned the downtown building at 13 South Broadway, where Edmond Printing was previously located. Stovall kept raising rent and bristled at selling the building to Rhonda and Jeff. Rhonda was wise and knew that owning the real estate where your business is located was essential to controlling the business and creating future wealth for her family. Stovall’s nephew took over the rental and quietly sold it to someone else after his passing. Then, in the next few years, the property changed hands five times. The owners never approached Jeff and Rhonda to buy it. The Wades purchased a triplex on Main Street, thinking they would move the shop. It stayed rented, so the plan did not work. 

“When we were located downtown, lots of random people called us for printing work,” mused Rhonda. She would advise a prospective customer that the shop was located next to Around the Corner Restaurant. They would sometimes reply, “no you’re not!” To her own amusement, Rhonda would counter, “yes I am!”

Frustrated with her downtown landlords and the new limitations on customer parking, Rhonda explored moving the shop out of the immediate downtown area. A potential property was eyed on north Fretz. Rhonda knew the traditions of Edmond and that the municipal government was rumored to be restrictive about businesses located in residential areas.

Mayor Sandra Gragg-Nafiah happened to be in the shop one day, and Rhonda asked her about the property on Fretz Avenue and whether the City would have any heartburn on relocating the shop to there. The Mayor said she “hadn’t been down Fretz in a while. Let me go check it out.” She came back and reported, “no problem with Fretz Avenue. We’ve got so many other items to address. Your print shop locating there will be fine.”

Concerned about not remaining in the downtown area, the Wades asked John Taylor if that would be a problem for clients. His reply was, “wherever you are, they will find you.” He was right. Once customers were directed to the location, they were very comfortable coming to the new shop. The new location has allowed for more flexibility in the Wades’ schedules. Jeff also enjoys making deliveries for their customers’ convenience.

The impact of COVID

In 2020, COVID protocols resulted in revenue losses for Edmond Printing. Football programs went digital, band concerts were canceled, in-person church attendance was squelched, and printed documents were no longer required or, in most cases, were substantially reduced. Losing significant business all at once is a shock, but Rhonda and Jeff continued offering unmatched quality and service to their customers. Most customers have returned bigger and better than ever. 

“There are so many things that we see the hand of God working in our lives,” reflected Rhonda. Without exception, the Wades’ immediate family are full-time vocational ministers, volunteer leaders, or heavily involved in their church. The couple have been engaged in college ministries for many years and often counsel young people who come by wanting their mentoring. Tears have been shed at the shop’s front desk while the couple will counsel and pray with young people who seek God’s guidance in their lives. 

The Wades continued to employ several employees for as long as they wanted to work past retirement age, but now, it’s just the two of them. Rhonda’s father, Charles Haley, worked part-time until his death in 2019. “He was fascinated with digital technology,” recalled Rhonda. “Daddy stood looking over my shoulder for hours as I worked many times, marveling at the speed and capabilities, asking me how I knew what to do next?” Rhonda would reply, “Daddy, I was taught by the best!” She likely gestured his way, and I could see Mr. Haley being Mr. Haley, humbly shrugging as he personally basked in the glow of a job well done and a life well lived.

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About Jim Denton

Jim Denton, CPA/PFS, CGMA is Partner Emeritus of Arledge & Associates, PC where he is responsible for providing leadership to the firm’s Wealth Management firm, Summit Capital Advisors, LLC. Mr. Denton empowers his clients, so they may live their best life. He may be reached by email at

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