MacVan carries every map imaginable

Cartographer Des Shoreland updates MacVan’s Denver Street Guide, drawing new streets near Denver International Airport.

Cartographer Des Shoreland updates MacVan’s Denver Street Guide, drawing new streets near Denver International Airport.

Bob Stanley used Google Maps on his smartphone once when he was delivering maps in Denver from MacVan Publishing, where he works as general manager.

“I didn’t know Denver well and my smartphone took me out of the way,” Stanley said. “I was doing things I shouldn’t be doing — not practicing what I preach.

“It actually took me longer.”

After getting lost, Stanley finally pulled out one of the maps he was delivering and successfully mapped out his own course through Denver.

With two cartographers on staff, MacVan Publishing creates and prints its own maps. Recently relocated from the Westside to 1045 Garden of the Gods Road, the company creates custom maps for specific purposes and road maps for emergency medical personnel. It publishes retail maps, advertising maps, atlases, a phone book for Teller County and more.

They’re distributed in a multi-state region.

Retail map heaven

Globes greet customers at the retail shop. The orbs come in a wide variety of materials including magnets, gems and a wooden globe from the Frank Lloyd Wright collection. Inflatable globes reminiscent of elementary school and pool parties hang from the ceiling. Walls are decorated with maps — maps of the world, maps of the United States, topographic “topo” maps of game management units in Colorado and more.

“We cater a lot to hunters,” Stanley said, and, motioning to a cabinet, added, “All these drawers are full of topographic maps — over 1,800 topo maps of Colorado from the USGS [U.S. Geological Service].”

Topographic maps detail the land’s contours along with trails, roads and water features. MacVan reprints maps from the USGS; those maps are not copyrighted, but instead are in the public domain, Stanley said.

Soon, MacVan will be able to print the topo maps on waterproof paper using ultraviolet ink for hunters, hikers and other outdoor enthusiasts.

“We’re on the edge of having that capability accessible to us,” Stanley said.

MacVan’s retail store alone sells 4,200 items. The breadth of the selection of maps and other items reaches throughout the globe. People planning a trip to Russia will be able to obtain maps of the area they’re about to visit. MacVan Maps has maps of Vietnam, Canada, Brazil, China, India, Iceland, Samoa, New Caledonia, New Zealand and more.

“If they make a map, we’ve got it,” Stanley said, adding that total sales top $1.5 million annually.

MacVan’s best-selling wall map is a large map of the Earth.

“You move into a new home and you have an office and want to enhance it. People get it mounted and framed,” Stanley said, motioning to the 4-by-6-foot wall map that sells for $34.99.

People will use wall maps and map pins to show where their children and grandchildren are traveling or where they have traveled, Stanley said.

“We cater a lot to hunters.” 

– Bob Stanley

EMS maps 

MacVan also makes street guides, also known as road atlases, with details of every road and street in Colorado Springs and Denver.

These maps are used by American Medical Response ambulance, Colorado Springs Utilities, the city and county of Denver, Colorado Springs police, Comcast cable company, Yellow Cab taxi service, Federal Express, United Parcel Service, Kaiser Permanente and others.

MacVan formerly had another company print all its maps, but three years ago, the company began printing its own to save money and eliminate waste, Stanley said.

“We’d buy 15,000, sell 5,000 and then throw 10 away,” he said. “That didn’t make any sense. This way, it costs a little more per book to make, but we don’t have any left over.”

The company’s back room has two commercial printers, a trimmer, a hole-punch and a binder, machines MacVan needs to print its own inventory.


MacVan’s staff cartographers create new maps for custom map jobs or update current maps. The company is on the 28th edition of its Colorado Springs street guide.

Last week, cartographer Des Shoreland was updating MacVan’s Denver Street Guide with new roads leading to Denver International Airport. The self-taught cartographer with an art background has worked for MacVan for 35 years.

He drew freehand using a black pen, and Google Maps showed a satellite picture of DIA on Shoreland’s computer screen.

“I’m doing some cleanup on the approaches to DIA,” Shoreland said. “It’s a little different than what we have.”

Shoreland keeps his maps and his information updated by maintaining relationships with developers in the Colorado Springs area. Developers and the county planning and building departments will provide new plats to Shoreland. He also drives Denver streets to update his information there, he said.

From Shoreland’s drawings, cartographer Kevin Perrson inputs the information into a computer.

“He takes what Des draws and turns them into the maps you see on the walls,” Stanley said.

New media

The Internet has “definitely taken a toll, no doubt,” Stanley said. “But at the same time, you’re better off with a map than anything.”

Stanley said smartphone applications are not updated as frequently as the MacVan maps, which are updated every year. Furthermore, he said, “It’s very fulfilling to have a street map.”

On the other hand, map sales through MacVan’s new website have skyrocketed, he said.

Prior to the move from the Westside, MacVan sold $1,200 in maps and items from its online service annually. From January through July this year, the sales have topped $6,000, Stanley said.

MacVan Publishing, Inc.

Info: 1045-B Garden of the Gods Road, 633-5757

Number of employees: 8

Under current ownership since: 1997