Jennet and Dan Foster own Minuteman Press in North Olmsted, Ohio, which offers their community design, print and marketing capabilities with a personal touch.
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Cleveland & North Olmsted, Ohio – The Minuteman Press printing franchise in North Olmsted, Ohio is run by dynamic husband and wife team Dan and Jennet Foster. In 2019, they celebrated 15 years in business and took home a regional franchise award for outstanding customer service. Now, in 2020 and celebrating 16 years, they continue to show that print is essential.
While being enthusiastic supporters of scouting in their community, Dan and Jennet sponsored a recreation center youth baseball team which brought home a 2019 championship trophy last year. Jennet’s high level of involvement in the business community was also recognized as she was named the North Olmsted Chamber of Commerce’s 2019 Bright Star.
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So, how did a gal from Dallas and a guy from New Zealand, come to call Cleveland’s West Side home?
Dan says, “Jennet and I met in 2003 in New Zealand. She had been traveling and adventuring. Her family had moved from Dallas to Cleveland in the 1990’s due to changes in the steel industry. It was my father-in-law, Will Kelly, after leaving that corporate world, who was the driving force to start our family business. Jennet and I were quick to sign on and help make it a reality.”
“We started in 2004 as a brand-new center with no customers. We all came in with different skills, but here we are now, with 15 years under our belts. Our kids are now 9, 11 and 13 years old and I can say that one of the things that franchise ownership gave to us was a lot of flexibility as parents. We are a few minutes’ drive from our children and home, so we’ve been able to juggle our time as needed between family life while running our center strongly, in partnership.”
Will, who was instrumental to their launch, has since joined his wife in retirement. Comprised of a small, but well-oiled team, their first employee Jack, is still part of daily operations. “Jack is our printer extraordinaire. He was working in the printing industry for 25 years prior to coming on board with us and is a strong asset. He has a disciplined and organized approach heading up our offset production and finishing process. We also have always had a prepress and design professional, right now that’s Darren, who has been with us for 18 months. We’ve had about a dozen people in that role over 15 years, a few years at a time. We are always encouraging and excited for employees who have upskilled in their role to the point that they have new opportunities, and of course, are happy when they can stay a little longer too.”
In 2004, offset presses ruled the corner of the world in which Dan, Jennet and Will began as allies in the b2b services industry. It was merely a launching point as Minuteman Press franchise owners say “We Are The Modern Printing Industry” for good reason and that is continued progress. Dan explains, “We started out with both offset and digital technologies. While we have actively upgraded our digital equipment through several generations of tech, the business we established on the back of offset technology continues to reward us. Our digital production has expanded to dominate what we print in-house, and having the flexibility of multiple production methods gives us a competitive edge. It has helped us forge connections with other area franchisees when they need offset work completed.”
As warm and family centered as Minuteman Press North Olmsted feels, every move made on behalf of progression is calculated, including the introduction of new technology. “We invest in technology carefully, using what we already have in smarter ways where possible. Recent acquisitions include a creaser/perforator and an inserter to increase our efficiency in the direct mail arena. Being an official USPS Mail Service Provider has helped boost our profile for local mailing opportunities. We also purchased dye sublimation equipment at the previous Minuteman Press World Expo in Orlando. Being able to offer quick turnaround on unique or personalized items like mugs creates ‘foot-in-the-door’ introduction opportunities to secure that new prospect’s core print products.”
The work done on their behalf by Minuteman Press International in New York has secured solid vendor partnerships. “We have a wish list for equipment. Having strong vendor relationships allows us to cater for gaps in our onsite production and grow those business segments to the point a new purchase is warranted, without missing out on the business happening now.”
Minuteman Press in North Olmsted’s pricing strategy is to remain competitive, thanks to strong proprietary software, updated price surveys and the human element that their family run center brings into the mix. Dan and Jennet both want to do right by every person trusting them. “I feel our pricing is competitive. We aim to offer a fair market price, and reference local and online printers as part of that formula. Do we aim to be the cheapest? Sometimes (depending on the opportunity) but mostly no. To be honest, our goal is to secure repeat business as part of a business to business relationship. Pricing will always be part of the decision-making mix but takes a step down as the primary focus over time.”
“Customer service is always going to be a priority for us,” says Dan. “In more recent years I feel like we have an increasing number of customers that rely on us as their ‘in-house’ team. Our consultative approach and proven track record bring peace of mind upon print approval. Sometimes in stark contrast with a previous vendor experience, when that was the time to really start biting their nails. This type of relationship is extremely valuable to them, and greatly influences future decision making to our benefit.”
There is plenty of proof in the pudding when it comes to the excellence churning out of their digital print, design and marketing center and Dan names a specific metric. “We have a good reputation with 100+ 5-star Google Reviews. Personal accountability is a huge part of it. If we make a commitment to a customer, we follow through. We do not pass the buck. When things go wrong, as they sometimes do, no matter the reasons, we communicate with a solution-based approach. Setting realistic expectations at the beginning of a project helps to minimize issues down the road”
“After all,” he adds, “Our clients are our livelihood and we really want them to feel they have had a good experience, the first of many.”
Dan and Jennet feel their personal style works well in tandem with the Minuteman Press environment. “We have a solid relationship with Minuteman Press World HQ. Our ability to make independent decisions, and with assistance from MPI has definitely been beneficial. For instance, early on, key vendor agreements with Konica enabled us to proceed with confidence, and our regional people have shared important perspectives during lease negotiations for premises. Having someone in your corner who knows the question you don’t even know to ask is invaluable when completing a deal.
So, what does the future hold? “More customers, bigger jobs!” Dan laughs. “We are both really excited to get back to basics and significantly grow our business. Now that our kids are becoming more independent, we can both be more present and engaged with the next stage in our growth. Chances are we’ll be introducing them to the family business in the not too distant future, at least as an after-school gig initially.”
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