Just the Type: Sentinel Printers Is Local All the Way

Owner of Sentinel Printers, Trula Hickman, has had a long history of working in the printing industry. Starting off as a typographer for a newspaper in Scotts Valley, she has been hooked on printing ever since. Trula and her husband started their own printing business 30 years ago in San Jose, but when the opportunity came up to purchase Sentinel Printers they jumped at it.

Trula moved to the area originally to go to school, and like everyone else, fell in love with the Santa Cruz Community. And being a part of and giving back to that community has been a pillar of her businesses from the beginning. From finding ways to provide environmentally sustainable printing options to their dedication to paying a living wage to employees, from their donations to local organisations to their support of shopping local, Sentinel Printers is a Santa Cruz business that thinks local. They understand that living here and keeping our community vibrant is a responsibility of all of us. 

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Being in the printing business and doing a lot of work for other Santa Cruz businesses, Sentinel Printers has developed a diverse local client base that includes printing a magazine for a local Buddhist organization, brochures for the Museum of Art and History, and our Santa Cruz Holiday Shopping Guide among many others.  

Everyone has something to say. We love getting to meet different people from different walks of life and help them get their message across. It keeps it interesting and fresh every day. I love the artistic element and cross promotion that goes into what we do. — Trula Hickman

Cross promotion is a big part of what they do, and businesses supporting businesses is something Trula is truly passionate about. Santa Cruz has a history of supporting local small business, and we are very blessed to have so many unique locally owned businesses in our community – it really is something that sets us apart. But turning that support into actual dollars spent can be a challenge. Just thinking that you want to try out a new restaurant is not enough, and deciding to shop online because it’s too much work to venture out to a local retailer doesn't keep dollars local. We can often take all of our great local businesses for granted and assume they will always be there. 

And Sentinel printers is doing their part in many ways. Not only do they donate a lot of printed work to local educational and art groups each year, but they have made a commitment to paying a living wage to all their employees. They currently employ eight people, and all of them live and work here in Santa Cruz. It is important to Trula and her husband that they support their employee’s ability to stay in this community; and it really makes them proud to see their employees being able to earn a good living, to raise their families here, and to be able to participate in the premium lifestyle that Santa Cruz offers. 

Sentinel Printers recently moved from their long-time location on Cedar Street to their new location at 1025 Center Street. And after completing what was a very complicated move with all of their large equipment, Trula and her team are so excited to be in their new space. For Trula, "it has been a breath of fresh air to be in a new building that has more space and more light. And we are very excited to be in an up and coming part of town, with Pono across the street and the Food Lounge, with all their events, right next door. The move has been really good for us and has created renewed interest and an uptick in business.“

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Once in their new location, Sentinel Printers participated in Economic Development’s Commercial Signage Grant Program. This program provides matching grant funds for local businesses for the improvement or addition of commercial signage. Signage was a major concern since the former tenant at the 1025 Center location hadn't needed signage, but for Sentinel Printers it was important to have visibility. Having moved from their old location they wanted to make sure people could find them when they went looking.

Premium signage is expensive, and I think you see people live for a long time with a vinyl banner because they are afraid to make that investment. Knowing that the City was willing to support new signage and contribute funds really helped us to make a more significant investment in the sign. It was a pretty simple process to apply for the grant, and everything was very clear and understood from the beginning. — Trula Hickman

Trula worked with Timerie Gordon from Nielsen Architects, who came up with a beautiful statement of a sign design that not only let’s passersby know Sentinel Printers is there, but also compliments the façade of the building.

People are certainly aware that Sentinel Printers is there. Business is booming, so much so that they have plans to bring on another employee. You can learn more about Sentinel Printers and the printing services they offer at  

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