by Leonard Shapiro
If ever there’s a dissatisfied customer at Middleburg Printers, the business’s new owner will have no trouble dealing with any problem at all. After military tours of duty in Iraq and Afghanistan—“yes, people were shooting at me,” he said—conflict resolution should not be an issue.
Meet 34-year-old Albert Patterson, a native Californian who spent eight years in the Army before being honorably discharged as a sergeant in 2012. He’s the proud father of four with a fifth on the way. And he and his father-in-law, Nolan Barzee, completed the purchase of Middleburg Printers from Vince Perricone at the end of 2015.
Barzee owns Mr. Print in Purcellville and Patterson has been working with him for most of the last three years, learning the business and also going to college on the GI Bill.
“I grew up in Los Angeles,” Patterson said, “and I just loved the feel of Purcellville, A small town was a big draw for me. I really liked the printing business and I just decided, this is what I want to do. My father-in-law and I worked out an arrangement that I would stay on and when the time comes, help him retire
Patterson will run the Middleburg operation and over the last few months has had a tutorial on the town and the countless clients from Perricone, who took over the business himself in July, 1986. Before that, Perricone had worked at the Loudoun Times Mirror as the paper’s production manager, and after nearly 50 years in the printing business himself, he wanted to stop, as well.
Enter his friend, Nolan Barzee, and his son-in-law, Albert Patterson.
“Vince and Nolan had known each other for quite a while and occasionally worked on projects together,” Patterson said. “Vince approached Nolan in 2014 and said he wanted another year before he’d be ready to stop. In November we started talking about (buying the business). I’ll head up this one and try to grow it and develop it a little more.
“I looked at what Vince had established here and I really wanted to be a part of it. We hope to have the same great service Vince always had and provide some more options. I guess you could say it’s an adrenaline shot to the business. We do a little more over in Purcellville and we do everything in house—banners, aluminum signs, even wallpaper. We’ll have more printing capabilities and graphic designs and we’ll also do full scale mailings. We’ll just also add some new technology.”
Perricone spent much of December and January working with Patterson, introducing him to his old customers and helping him learn about the town and its surrounding areas. And Perricone has no regrets about retiring at the age of 73.
“I’m going to miss interacting with the people,” he said. “A lot of our customers have ben friends for 30 years. But I’m ready to move on, do some gardening, visit my children and grandchildren and a great grandchild and do all the things I haven’t been able to do. I’m done. I’m tired. I’m 73, doing it 55 years and I’m ready.”
Of course he’ll also be pressed into service helping his wife, Tutti, with her Back Street Caterer business. Perricone grills a mean piece of sizzling beef and will continue to keep those embers burning. He’ll also help out volunteering his services to good causes—helping with the Hill School auction, the Humane Foundation and others. And Patterson said he hopes he stays “on call” whenever the need arises.
Patterson also wants to become equally immersed in his new community. He’s joined the Middleburg Business and Professional Association and “I’d really like to be involved in the town,” he said. “It all starts with the community and then trickles up from there.”
Perricone is enamored with Patterson, who also plans to retain two other Middleburg Printers institutions—Frances Pressley, who started with the business before selling it to Perricone, and Ron Lewsader, who’s been working in the shop for the last 14 years.
Perricone described Patterson as “very competent and extremely enthusiastic. He has the enthusiasm and the energy I had when I started 30 years ago. I’ve used it all up. But it’s definitely now in good hands.”
As it always has been.