Anyone stopping in at H.V. Chapman Sons starting Monday might not notice anything different from previous visits to the downtown bookbindery and print shop.
Same name. Same line of business. But the store will be under new ownership and management after 65 years in the Chapman family.
Stan Chapman, the son and grandson of its founders, has sold the business to longtime friend Tim de la Vega. The deal was three years in discussion, the parties said. Chapman retains ownership of the building at 802 N. Third St.
“Tim and I are both third-generation printers,” Chapman said Friday, his last day of running the business. His grandfather, the first H.V. Chapman, had been a printer before he joined his son H.V. Chapman Jr. in starting the business in 1947, he said.
De la Vega’s grandfather, Gregorio de la Vega, ran a printing business on the side in Mexico City, where he was a Presbyterian preacher, the grandson said. Gregorio’s son, Bert de la Vega, emigrated to the United States to complete his education, eventually winding up in Abilene. He worked in a variety of printing jobs, including for the Abilene Reporter-News, Tim de la Vega said.
The new business owner spent 18 years, in two separate stretches, with the Abilene Independent School District. He left at the end of January as manager of printing for the district.
Stan Chapman took charge of the family business in 1986, adding rebinding damaged books to its repertoire of goods and services. He’s taken pride in bringing new life to old books in poor condition.
“We can fix just about anything,” Chapman said proudly. “I’ve been amazed at what I’ve been able to do.”
Someone might pay as much as $500 to recondition and rebind a family Bible dating from the 1870s, he said, but then it’s good for another hundred years.
Some treasured books can be rebound for $100 or less, Chapman said.
“It depends on the nature of the book.”
Printing books is a mainstay of the business, including turnkey jobs involving design, editing, printing and binding. Chapman also binds books for other printing companies, he said.
That’s the pattern de la Vega said he intends to follow.
“My goal for this business is to keep everything the way it was,” he said. “I really like the way Stan’s got everything set.”
Chapman will be a consultant, but his reason for turning the business over is to free up more time for travel to see children and grandchildren. He has grandchildren living in San Antonio, Texarkana and Florida. His youngest child, daughter Laken, serves as a missionary in Norway. So don’t expect to see him around every day.
De la Vega’s motive for buying the business is simple: “I’ve always wanted to own my own business.”
De la Vega said he plans to bring his father out of retirement to help out. And when he needs extra help, he hopes to call on sister Adrienne de la Vega for assistance.
“A dream of mine was to work with my dad,” he said. “We plan on keeping it in the family.”