MacVan Map Co., which has been producing maps of the Pikes Peak region for 40 years, will close March 31, a victim of the technological advances in cars, smartphones and other devices that help keep people from getting lost.
MacVan General Manager Bob Stanley, one of two remaining employees of a company that once employed nearly 20 people, said this week he and owner Ken Field agonized for four months, trying to find way to keep the company alive.
"We were just looking for a path to stay open. We went through the books, but it just wasn’t going to happen. It (the business) just wasn’t paying for itself," Stanley said. "I just want to thank our customers. We appreciate their loyalty. They have always been great to work with."
MacVan is best known for "The Book," its annual spiral-bound collection of detailed maps of the Colorado Springs area that has been a staple for real estate agents, delivery drivers, police and firefighters and even journalists. The company operates a retail store at 1045B Garden of the Gods Road and produces more than 40 different maps for cities along the Colorado Front Range and Western Slope, a telephone directory called the "Ute Pass Gold Book" for Teller County and parts of El Paso and Park counties as well as advertising and custom real estate maps.
"It was a booming business at one time. Our customers are just in shock. They can’t believe we are closing after all these years. We are the last map store in the state. The Boulder Map Gallery closed six months ago and Arwin Map in Denver closed four years ago," Stanley said. "People just don’t (get a map and) plan their trips. They just take off and the cars have all these sophisticated systems. Our Gold Book sales have been dropping 20 percent a year for four years and, other than ‘The Book,’ our other map sales have been falling about 10 percent a year."
The company was started in 1978 by Gene Yancy, Mac McCloy and Frank Van – McCloy and Van were the Mac and Van of MacVan – as a way to get accurate maps to find their way around town when selling insurance. They sold the business in 1986 and the company went through several owners after that until Field bought MacVan in 1997.
MacVan’s first maps were hand drawn, but the company eventually converted to a computerized system used digital imagery, computer software, aerial photography and Global Positioning System technology. Des Shorland, who has been the company’s cartographer for most of its history, still helps create the company’s maps along with Kevin Persson, who works remotely as a cartographer for MacVan from his home in Nepal.
Stanley, who said he plans to look for another job after MacVan closes, said the company is putting the finishing touches on the final edition of "The Book," which it will publish if it gets enough orders. Stay tuned.
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