WATERVILLE — Peter Schutte has a reputation for going out of his way to help others, not only in his capacity as a businessman, but also as a volunteer.
“He’s an outstanding individual,” said Ken Walsh, chief executive officer of the Alfond Youth Center. “He’s always there for the community; he’s always there to help causes.”
Schutte owns ColorGraphics, a print management and large-format sign-printing company in Sidney; he also is co-owner of PremierColor/Atkins Printing Service, a business he formed with partner Mike Whitman, after they bought Atkins Printing Service last year and re-established it in Manchester under a new name.
On April 11, Schutte will be recognized for his work as the Mid-Maine Chamber of Commerce presents him with its 2012 Business Person of the Year Award at the chamber’s 50th annual awards dinner.
The award is given annually to a business principal or officer who has shown solid leadership in setting a positive direction for his company and has maintained integrity, professionalism and vision.
Schutte’s love of helping others is evident in the way he describes how he operates:
“Locally, I work harder for people. I will run a little faster, jump a little higher. I want completely happy customers.”
Walsh attests to the dedication with which Schutte approaches a project. In the late 1990s, Schutte helped the Waterville Area Boys & Girls Club merge with the YMCA, serving as volunteer chairman of a marketing committee. He spread the word about the vision for a merger, explained the corporate needs and contacted foundations for funding, according to Walsh.
“He played a very essential role in our organization during that time period,” Walsh said. “His creativity definitely played a strong role for us. He’s very creative, very energetic — and to be successful in any kind of business in central Maine, you really have to put a lot of hard work into it.”
In the printing business 30 years, Schutte, 48, of Sidney, said he started working at 17.
“My dad, Hans Schutte, worked at the Morning Sentinel from 1972 to 1977 as a photo engraver/color separator,” he said. “He started Graphic Color Service with Eddie Atkins in 1977 at 155 Main St. I worked part-time for my dad.”
That was when Peter Schutte was in high school. After graduation, he worked full time at the family business as a color separator.
When his father retired in 2001, Peter Schutte took over the business, changing the name to ColorGraphics.
In the 1990s, Schutte and his brother, Roger, who also worked at the family business while growing up, started Digital Color Service, a company that housed one of the first digital photography studios in Maine. In 2004, Peter and his wife, Pamela, took over Two Bytes Publishing and renamed it Noble House Publishers. In 2005, the Schuttes started their current business, ColorGraphics.
Buying Atkins with Whitman last year helped expand the business offerings. Schutte is in charge of direct sales for PremierColor.
“I handle the mail division of Atkins, which started up last month in Winslow, and Mike handles accounting, inside sales and customer service,” he said.
Schutte was stunned to learn from Kimberly Lindlof, the chamber’s president and chief executive officer, that he was chosen for the chamber award. His father, who died two years ago, won the same award in 1997.
“It just blew me away,” he said. “I wish he was here to see it. I don’t think a day goes by that something he taught me doesn’t come to my mind — and I use it.”
Lindlof said Schutte’s focus on detail and customer satisfaction distinguishes him as a go-to person in the region and beyond for affordable and creative marketing and print materials.
“His work in retaining the former Atkins Printing clients and some staff was also acknowledged by the (chamber’s award) selection committee,” Lindlof said in an email. “I guess the old adage is true: ‘Like father, like son.’”
Meanwhile, Schutte said he loves acquiring new customers and learning how he can help them.
“I have a passion for what I do,” he said. “It all goes back to taking care of the customer. I don’t want them to be unhappy with what I do. I do everything with a sense of urgency and I deliver beyond their expectations.”
Schutte is the print partner to Leo Marketing, a marketing and advertising agency. He is past president of the Maine Graphics Arts Association, director of Graphic Arts Student Mentoring Program, a former member of the board of directors of the Advertising Club of Maine and was a founding member of the Maine Sign Association.
He was on the Foundation Board of Kennebec Valley Community College and is technical adviser to Mid-Maine Vocational Center’s graphic arts program.
Schutte also is a Sidney selectman, was a captain for the town’s Fire Department for 13 years and was assistant chief of a town station. He and his wife have four children: Corinne, 23; Ross, 21; Austen, 17; and Anna, 15.
Amy Calder — 861-9247