East Haven and Hamden, CT owner Ron Burlakoff (center) with daughter Britany (left) and sister Ruth (right).
East Haven & Hamden, Conn. – Ron Burlakoff comes through no matter how busy he gets as the multi-unit Minuteman Press franchise owner with locations in East Haven and Hamden, Connecticut. Whenever they are needed, Ron and his team are determined to please their clients with all things print and marketing. Together, his entire staff across both locations knows how to best serve their clients as they build brands and effectively craft strong messaging for target audiences.
Buying the established East Haven franchise in 2003, Ron was able to grow the business even further. He joined the Minuteman Press International President’s Million-Dollar Circle in 2005, and has remained a member for the past 15 years, achieving yearly gross sales of at least $1 million. Ron’s daughter Britany owns and operates their second location in Hamden, and his brother Harry owns Minuteman Press in Shelton.
Every strong leader has a strong partner, and for Ron, that begins with his wife and business partner today, Sandi. “I learned many tricks of the trade over ten to twelve years, but I caught wind that the last company I worked for was going to be sold and I did not want to wait around and see what was going to happen. I wound up calling Minuteman Press International Regional Vice President Jim Galasso and we had a meeting at the Trumbull Marriott where I learned all about how the franchise could benefit me. I liked what I heard and most importantly I liked Jim; plus, Sandi told me I could definitely do this.”
Sandi had great foresight because today Ron operates two family-owned Minuteman Press centers. As any business requires hard work to succeed, his first center needed his personal business intelligence combined with the support and special equipment pricing afforded to him by his franchisor. “Even though my first location, East Haven, was already doing a fair amount of work, I knew we could do even better, but I wanted to have certain equipment on the floor and I wanted to do a certain amount of volume. The drive to be better is strong in me and I am not one to stagnate. We saw to it that the first franchise grew and then bought our second when our daughter stepped up.”
Ron was motivated when the couple’s daughter, Britany, approached him with excitement about turning his franchise venture into a family business. He knows if she hadn’t, he still might only have one location. “If our daughter wasn’t interested, I don’t think I would have done it. Britany went to college and worked for a national chain but then decided she’d like to see what Sandi and I do every day; she worked for us and decided it was fun. From there, I called Minuteman Press World Headquarters and asked if she could go to training. She did and seven years ago we had a grand opening for our second, brand new center in Hamden.”
“Sometimes we grow a lot and sometimes we grow a little, but our drive to keep moving up is at work in our favor.” -Ron Burlakoff
Since the 2013 purchase of the second franchise, Ron has proven to be a man of his word as their Minuteman Press family business did so well, they moved the second center to a bigger location and combined some of their production for efficiency.
When it comes to customer service, Ron proves himself a savvy manager, knowing the strengths of his team and putting them to work to benefit all his nearly 2,000 clients. “I try to be hands-on, but we have so many clients and I have the talents of my sister Ruth and Britany as well and both of them are fantastic at taking care of all of them. I do have my advice ready, especially with new clients and together we take good care to find solutions that fit each project. Our philosophy is to never ‘try to make a sale’ but instead help every one of them be better. Once we prove we can do that, they give us regular business.”
The effort and energy needed to run his empire could be assumed to be tiring, but quite the opposite is true for Ron. “I am a ‘technology guy’ so taking care of that end of the business and using it to help our clients succeed through design and print combined with a strong strategy for their brands is fun for me. I am not saying if I won a big lottery that I would not retire because running two centers is a lot of work with a few hundred jobs running at any time, but we love doing it and when our customers grow, it makes it all worthwhile.”
“We take new entrepreneurs and help them create a brand identity from the beginning. Often, people need direction and quickly learn to trust us for our knowledge and expertise. We have helped so many brands and we will continue to offer more effective ways as time progresses.” – Ron Burlakoff
He has the merit of a “hard-nosed businessman” but the heart of a family man and his entire operation benefits as Ron manages all with care. “I don’t see myself as some ‘Commander-in-Chief.’ I did not like the way I was treated when I was an employee, so now that I am a boss, it is important to me to be the best boss. I realize I am responsible not only for my business growth and clients, but also for my employees and their families and I don’t want any of them to feel as I did when I was an employee. Most of my employees have been with me for about seventeen years and that they stayed means something.”
Today, Ron has a wealth of knowledge to share with his clients. He also knows that everyone at Minuteman Press International both at the local level and at World Headquarters is there to support him no matter what and he appreciates that aspect of franchising. “What’s nice about my franchisor is that if I need them, they are here and they are attentive, but if I do not, they leave me alone and let me do my thing. They do look out for us and if something does not seem right, Jim Galasso will call to check in with me but he does not dictate what I should do.”
There is respect all around and as the new decade launches, Ron adds, “Minuteman Press International is the best. When the Million-Dollar Owners all get together each year, we are with the Titus family and other representatives. It really feels like you are working with family. It does not at all feel like a big corporate machine.”
As for taking Sandi up on the nudge she gave him to buy his first Minuteman Press center so many years ago, he concludes simply, “It was the best thing we have ever done.”
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