TR Trades Reproduction Ltd. was established in 1969 by Ron Tomilson and Jack Richardson, the ‘T’ and ‘R’ of TR Trades. Two months after the small storefront opened on Vancouver’s West 4th Avenue, Harold Duncan joined the business as a delivery driver. Approximately one year later he bought out Jack and Ron to become sole proprietor.
Upon taking over the business, Harold joined the International Reprographics Association and immediately capitalized on his membership by travelling extensively, visiting hundreds of reprographics shops around North America. He surveyed larger and more advanced reprographics businesses, discovering the newest technology and bringing that knowledge back to Vancouver to implement into his business. TR Trades has remained a member of the IRGA for nearly forty years and the Duncan family continues to practice this model, keeping their finger on the industries’ pulse.
In response to the market’s demands and TR Trades’ success, the business expanded in 1976 to a larger location at 1744 West 4th Avenue. The business continued to expand up until 1989, purchasing and building into the adjacent lots in 4 stages. Having undergone multiple renovations to accommodate the development of their production facilities and equipment, TR Trades remains at this location today, owning nearly half the block at 17,000 square feet.
As pioneers of Vancouver’s reprographics industry, TR Trades was a leader in the transition from analog to digital printing. The company has changed drastically over the years, supplementing the reputation they originally established within the large format and blueprinting industries decades ago. These changes have always prioritized the use of state-of-the-art technology, including TR introducing their customers to high-speed modems years prior to the Internet era.
In the early ‘90’s, TR Trades purchased the world’s most advanced colour copier at the time, the Canon Colour T, making them the first in Vancouver to offer the revolutionary technology required to print colour copies fast. As more architects and engineers experimented with colour line prints, TR Trades recognized the shift in the market and purchased one of the first large format colour inkjets within Vancouver. These postscript machines allowed photographs to be printed at a large scale. The subsequent introduction of large format colour scanning technology replaced the use of darkrooms while allowing integration with digital output devices.
In 2010, Harold Duncan commenced his retirement and his two daughters, Danielle and Carla, transitioned into ownership. With a combination of hands on experience and education between them, the two Duncan sisters have continued to successfully develop TR’s products and services.
TR Trades proudly celebrated their 45th anniversary in 2014. Annually, they celebrate their solid team of employees, several of which have been with the company since near its inception. This team is comprised of staff with over 40 years of industry experience, allowing them to guarantee excellence in printing standards.
1992 – TR Trades, Production Floor. Staff operate some of the first large format copy machines. These machines were enormous, accepted up to 42″ originals and allowed the enlargement and reduction of prints. The introduction of automated machines sped up production and greatly reduced labour costs.
1992 – TR Trades, Xerox 9400. An operator kneels on a stack of paper in preparation for a large specification run on one of the original Xerox 9400’s. Xerox invested a fortune in creating a series of these machines in order to compete with offset printing, which had previously been responsible for the majority of the world’s specifications. TR Trades purchased the 9200, 9400 & 9500 of the Xerox series as soon as they were available and closed their offset printing department.
1992 – TR Trades, PMT Camera. An operator uses one of the original automated PMT Cameras which reproduced very high quality photographic prints. These prints could then be used on the lower resolution Xerox equipment to produce reasonable quality copies fast and inexpensively, to compete with offset printing.
Early 1970’s – Diazo advertisement. TR Trades poster ad produced on the diazo machine with 2 colours. Note the blueish and red cast—this was printed using the same ammonia-based process used for early blueprints.