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The History of Kaye-Smith


In 1954 Lester Smith and KVSM owner Les Malloy bought KJR in Seattle along with KXL in Portland and KNEW (later KJRB) in Spokane. Smith changed KJR to a Top 40 format, hiring popular disc jockeys such as Dick Stokke, Pat O’Day, Larry Lujack, Lan Roberts, and Lee Perkins. KJR shot to number one and enjoyed almost a 40% local audience share for a decade.

In 1957, entertainers Frank Sinatra and Danny Kaye bought the three stations for $2 million, and Smith stayed on as manager.


In 1964 Frank Sinatra sold his share of KJR to Danny Kaye and Les Smith. That led to the formation of Kaye-Smith Enterprises which owned and operated radio stations in Washington, Oregon, Kansas and Ohio. KJR-AM Seattle, KISW-FM Seattle, KXL-AM/FM Portland, and KJRB-AM/KEZE-FM Spokane were the prominent stations in the group, which lead to other related businesses.


One was Concerts West, a nationwide concert promotion company which promoted tours for artists like Elvis Presley, Eric Clapton, John Denver and Led Zepplin, to name a few. A recording studio and film production company known as Kaye-Smith Productions emerged during the 70s and was utilized by local advertisers and musicians such as Steve Miller, Heart and Bachman Turner Overdrive.

In addition to the entertainment and advertising-related businesses, Les Smith helped bring professional sports to the area as a minority partner in the original Seattle Sounders (1973-1979) and as a managing partner in the Seattle Mariners (1977-1981).


1987 – Lester Smith acquired Lothrop Business Forms. His motivation was he had just sold KISW, and was intrigued by the nature of repeat business from the ongoing account relationships that business forms provided and the company had management in place.

1989 – Salmon Systems, a separate company owned by Kaye-Smith Enterprises, brings programming expertise to Lothrop. Salmon Systems was a Sales Monitoring (CRM) software offering for radio, TV and newspapers. These programmers develop RapsEDI (Rapid Access EDI), an advanced online inventory management system.


1991 – Kaye-Smith acquires Dinner + Klein, adding mailing and fulfillment services to the business forms offering.

1992 – Alex Smith, son of the founder Les Smith, formally joins Kaye-Smith.

1993 – Kaye-Smith acquires TechnaPrint, an Issaquah, WA. based company offering computer pre-press educational services to the local market as well as graphic design and commercial print services.

1994 – Kaye-Smith acquires DataPrint of Wilsonville, OR. and Kent, WA. bringing a broker distributor of business forms and other products into the fold, which further established the company’s presence in both the Portland and Seattle markets.

1997 – Kaye-Smith acquires Califorms of San Jose, CA. providing forms manufacturing, mailing and fulfillment for the California markets. Kaye-Smith exited its California operational presence in 2004 to consolidate sales in its Portland and Renton facilities.


2000 – Kaye-Smith acquires LaserDirect, a local direct marketing and statement processing manufacturer, further enhancing its presence in variable information printing output. Kaye-Smith’s in-house Database department is firming established.

2004 – Alex Smith succeeds his father as CEO; Les Smith remains Chairman.

2006 – Kaye-Smith acquires Olympic Data Services of south Seattle, a data processing and printing manufacturer for statement services primarily serving credit unions.

2007 – Kaye-Smith receives ISO 27001 certification for Information Security Management and SAS 70 Type I and Type II Audit Reports.


2012 – Les Smith, Kaye-Smith’s founder, passes away at the age of 93.

2017 – Kaye-Smith acquires MicroDesign of Portland, OR. adding a distributor of various graphic arts products.

2018 – Kaye-Smith acquires Kore Group, a full-service branded merchandise agency offering warehousing, fulfillment and overseas sourcing.

2019 – Kaye-Smith acquires Global Fulfillment of south Seattle providing a product fulfillment base of accounts outside of the graphic arts manufacturing model. The company recently exited these accounts in 2023 to concentrate on its manufacturing and branded merchandise agency models.


2021 – Kaye-Smith acquires Branding Plus, Orange Peel Creative, and Complete Branding Solutions. These acquisitions significantly added to the company’s account base and service level in all three markets: Portland, Seattle and Boise.

2022 – Kaye-Smith acquires Pod4Print of Tigard, OR. This offering provides high-end marketing materials, mailing and fulfillment in both offset and variable digital inkjet technology.

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