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Sarasota family printing business succeeds by maintaining mutual respect

Shared philosophies keep the presses rolling harmoniously at Serbin Printing. "You’ve got to have open lines of communication, and you just can’t be a right fighter," says Mark Serbin.

Mark Serbin, here with Britney Serbin Scragg, says he was aggressive about growing the company in its early days.
Mark Serbin, here with Britney Serbin Scragg, says he was aggressive about growing the company in its early days.
Photo by Mark Wemple
  • Manatee-Sarasota
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Serbin Printing fulfilled its first order on Dec. 24, 1971 — a request for Christmas cards, naturally, Since then the Sarasota company has grown into a local leader for printing, mailing and marketing services.

Current company president Mark Serbin has been involved in the family business since the day his parents started it, buying into the company with wife Robin in 1976. His daughter, Britney Serbin Scragg, is now poised to take over the business whenever he decides to retire.

Not that he’s not in any big rush.

“I don’t feel the need to have to leave; I enjoy this so much,” says Mark, 70. “But do I have the absolute comfort to know that I could leave tomorrow if I wanted to? I do. I know that can happen — she’s got it more than covered.”

Plenty of big things remain on the horizon for the company, which moved into new digs on 61st Street off U.S. 301 at the beginning of the year. Its mailing division, which started out as a separate company run by Britney, has now been folded in to the original printing company, and at this point in the year business is already “way ahead of last year,” says Mark. He expects the growth to continue, especially since Serbin Printing is a Xerox Premier Partner and picks up work from around the world through that relationship.

“We probably wouldn’t be where we are now if it wasn’t for the fact that my father allowed me to do some things,” says Mark. “He was getting on in life, and I was aggressive about growing the company.”

He bought the business’s first multicolor press, and since then he’s continued a strategy of forward-thinking innovation. “My thing throughout the history of the shop is anytime we go to buy another piece of equipment, I want it to have some capabilities that we don’t already have,” he says. “Britney’s very much in that same vein as me — if we’re going to expand, we’re going to do something bigger and better. We feel the same way, so it works.”

Working together

Understanding each other’s strengths plays a key role in dividing up the work at the company. “We all have our lanes,” says Britney, 39. “I think we’re very good at acknowledging the things that we’re good at and can really dive in and do well. And then also to relinquish and say, ‘What would you do? This is something you’ve got more expertise in.’”

The father and daughter avoid stepping on each other’s toes and share a common goal of keeping the company successful and growing. “Even if we don’t agree on something, it’s not who’s right and who’s wrong,” says Britney. “It’s just a matter of figuring out what’s best for the company as a whole.”

Serbin Printing, now led by Britney Serbin Scragg and Mark Serbin, was founded in 1971.
Photo by Mark Wemple

Britney’s husband also works at Serbin Printing, and her brother Scott did for awhile too before becoming the majority owner of Joyland Live music club in Sarasota. But Mark’s always been good about knowing where to draw the line between business and family.

“From early on, I’ve always separated what I’ve done at work from home,” he says. Both he and Scott are musicians, and “when I’m playing with him in his band, he’s the boss,” says Mark. “And when he was at work, I was the boss. And when we’re out having a family dinner or get-together, then we don’t worry about either one. And the same has been followed through with Britney.”

“It’s almost easy for us now to deal with work during work hours, clock out, and go have dinner and the work doesn’t affect the family dinner,” adds Britney. “It doesn’t affect the family holiday; it doesn’t affect a vacation. I think we have a very good separation with that.”


Things have gone relatively smoothly for the Serbins when it comes to combining family and business, primarily because they get along well and respect each other both in and out of the office.

“I think if you don’t have a good base relationship, don’t move forward [with a family business],” says Britney.

“That’s key,” agrees Mark. “If you’re not getting on at home, chances are it’s not going to get any better at work. It starts with that relationship, and then after that it’s like a marriage. It’s give and take; it’s live and learn. You’ve got to have open lines of communication and you just can’t be a right fighter. You’ve got to realize when somebody else has a good idea and accept that.”

The Serbins don’t disagree much about business plans and strategies. If they do, they focus on reaching consensus and moving on.

“You can’t take it personally,” says Britney. “Nothing is a personal attack. You’ve got to have thick skin in business anyhow to take the good, the bad and the ugly. An argument or a disagreement or you not getting your way can’t affect the rest of your work week moving forward.”

“We’re a team,” says Mark. “That’s the way it’s got to be. We need to present that to our employees; we need to present that to our customers. And in our case, it’s not a false front. I think we walk the walk and talk the talk. I think it’s real for us.”

Their biggest challenge might be getting Mark to slow down a bit. “I see me being extremely active for another couple of years, five years maybe,” he says. “But I also have a hobby that gives me an opportunity to travel and play in a band. And we travel around the country, so I’ll have a little more time to do that.”

“My goal for him would be that he’d always be my sounding board,” says Britney. “He’s been in the industry for so much longer and seen so many things, it’s just nice to always have somebody to turn to when I may not know the proper direction or have gone through some things before. Kind of like when your child leaves home for college but you leave a room there, it’ll be a long time before he doesn’t have a desk here. There’s no push out. We do work well together and I respect him so much that there is a comfort in keeping him around.”



Beth Luberecki

Nokomis-based freelance writer Beth Luberecki, a Business Observer contributor, writes about business, travel and lifestyle topics for a variety of Florida and national publications. Her work has appeared in publications and on websites including Washington Post’s Express, USA Today, Florida Trend, and Learn more about her at

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