BAKERSFIELD, Calif. – In the three and a half years since Mark Barnes purchased the Minuteman Press franchise in Bakersfield, CA located at 4500 Easton Drive, he has more than tripled his sales. Mark shares, “Before the acquisition in December of 2019, the prior year’s sales totaled just under $500,000. Our current 12-month sales (as of August of 2023) is just over $1.75 million.”
In 2023, Mark became one of the newest members of the Minuteman Press International President’s Club for top performers (based on 2022 yearly sales). Mark shares his keys to growing the business as well as his journey to Minuteman Press in Bakersfield. He also gives his thoughts on the printing industry today, what it’s like owning a business in Bakersfield, the ongoing franchise support he’s received from Minuteman Press, and more.
What does it mean to you to be a member of the Minuteman Press President’s Club?
Mark Barnes: “Making the President’s Club has always been a goal from the very beginning! We knew it wouldn’t be easy and it would take a lot of hard work and a little time, but we knew with the right team, and the right approach, it was only a matter of time before we got it. 3 years in, and we made it!”
What are the 3 biggest keys to your sales growth and success?
Mark Barnes: “Our sales growth success has been through a variety of factors. I feel like we have taken an ‘all of the above’ approach.
We incrementally increased our ad spend, and tested and adjusted as necessary
We took a focused approach on our networking opportunities
We added product lines and revenue streams to our offering mix, and we have looked for strategic partnerships that made sense
We were already doing wholesale print for what you might consider our competitors, but we are equipped and positioned to do more, better, with our facility and equipment mix, so when we realized there was some untapped potential to expand on that, we actively pursued those opportunities as well. If we don’t get the account directly, due to, perhaps, a relationship, we will look to get them indirectly through wholesaling to our competition that can’t offer what we can.”
What are your high-demand products and key growth areas?
Mark Barnes: “We have many high-demand products and services. Our high growth areas have been direct mail marketing and compliance mailings, programs for events, signs, branded apparel, and “operational” things like blueprints. Promotional items have also played a large role.”
Why do you think printing remains so vital to businesses today?
“Print remains vital because it drives behavior. Think about your daily life, do you stand in the wine aisle and judge a wine by its label when looking for a decent wine? Imagine if all of those labels were blank and you just had rows of bottles, how would you ‘know’ what to choose? You wouldn’t.
If this is you, you are relying on print to drive your behavior. Maybe you casually look at a speed limit sign to adjust your driving speed, those are printed folks, and you have just relied on print to change your behavior in that moment. Print is ubiquitous and has been around all of us our entire lives; for that reason, print has an inherent trust built in because we rely on it day in and day out, and we don’t even realize it.
I have had people ask me if print was dying and I asked, ‘Why because the credit card companies want you to go ‘green’ by paying your bills online?’ They certainly do this, but they turn around and send you all of these offers for new credit cards via direct mail, because they know direct mail works to drive revenues and new acquisitions.
Need more proof that print is here to stay? Just ask the savvy marketers that rely on us for their campaigns, and even their clients’ campaigns. Spend a day in our office and you will see how high emotions can run when a marketer has waited until the last minute for something, or when blueprints are needed to submit plans by a deadline, and then ask yourself why these people bring us food and snacks as a way of saying thank you. How many businesses have their clients bringing them food? Print is vital – and everyone from marketers to admins that need to make sure they have the things they need for their team – understands this.”
How would you best describe your business community in Bakersfield?
Mark Barnes: “I would put our business community up against any in the nation. We have a robust and growing business community in both our local Bakersfield area and our county as a whole. In fact, this entire region is that way. The San Joaquin Valley where we are located feeds the world when it comes to many fruits and vegetables and nuts. The scale of the reach of businesses here blows my mind. Maybe more importantly, our business community is active and involved, supports one another, and I am honored to have developed personal relationships with so many of the business owners and leaders here. Many have become friends, and even mentors (whether they realize it or not).”
What was your previous background and why did you choose Minuteman Press?
“I was in the corporate world in the oil and gas industry for nearly 15 years. Prior to acquiring Minuteman Press, I was the Regional Manager for an oil and gas manufacturer and supplier of key products for the industry. I was tasked with leading a turnaround effort in that role where the company was looking to regain market share. I earned the trust of the tenured staff, got some wins early, and then we added a completely new product line that I had background with from a previous career.
After getting market share with that product line, we then identified other locations to expand. We opened a new location a few hours away, secured the business we were going after there, and began due diligence on the next location. I was traveling back and forth to our manufacturing facility in Texas and learned a ton about manufacturing processes in general, being lean, and I felt like there was a lot of overlap with Minuteman Press.
Minuteman Press is a manufacturer and I felt like there were a lot of similarities – the processes, the tenured staff in place, the reputation and book of business in place, and I felt like Minuteman Press was simply producing ‘a different widget’ and that the transition would be relatively smooth as a result.
Of course, we didn’t account for a global pandemic three months after taking over, supply chain issues, employee shortages, and those things. With that said, because of my corporate experience and with the support of Minuteman Press, we were well-equipped to manage through these challenges when they did come up. As you can see, we managed through them relatively successfully. We continue to learn and improve as we go. That’s what it’s all about, continuous improvement.”
What has the franchise support from Minuteman Press been like for you?
“The support from Minuteman Press has been great. Obviously, something like the pandemic presented many challenges for all businesses, but being new in business for myself, the support we received was critical. They rolled out new programs; they provided marketing support and operational support when we needed it; and my favorite part has been the best practice training we continue to get regionally.
Every 3-6 months, we have the 54 owners in my region get together and exchange best practices on just about everything from marketing, operations, product/service mix, staffing, accounting, etc. This has been vital as the different owners have their own experiences and insights that we get to learn from. They are also at different locations in the region so we get to see how they have their operation set up and it just goes a long way with exposure to new ideas or confirming what we are already doing. The President’s Club meeting was also important because those owners were top performers and the advice and conversations there, along with the new relationships established, have elevated us even further.”
What are the biggest personal and professional rewards of owning your business?
“The biggest personal reward of owning my own business is simply fulfilling the long-standing desire to own my own business. I’ve always been entrepreneurial and I feel so good every single day that I am in control of my own destiny. I love that I’m able to help provide for staff that can then provide for their families, and that we are able to help our business partners provide for their families (because at the end of the day we are helping businesses grow or become more efficient, and that improves their own lives by extension). Even when things are hard or stressful, that feeling overrides all of that for me, and I feel lucky.
Professionally, I’m just proud to have developed great new friendships and mentorships in the business community here. I’ve been able to give back in various ways; I’m on the board of a non-profit, I’m on the board of the Bakersfield Rotary, and these have led to wonderful opportunities to give back but also to learn from such strong and high level leaders; I’m just very fortunate.”
What are 1 or 2 key pieces of advice would you give to other owners?
“My biggest piece of advice for other Minuteman Press owners is to think big. We look at ourselves as commercial printers, marketers and designers. We are not a quick copy model; we are a commercial level organization helping other organizations achieve their business goals by being a trusted and valued partner of theirs.
We look to align ourselves with organizations as partners – the Robin to their Batman – supporting them from recruiting employees and marketing their value propositions in the marketplace to supporting their operations internally with critical items used in the day-to-day operation of the enterprise. We don’t need the limelight; we just aim to add value to the full life cycle of a given day in their operation.
As our clients succeed, we will succeed… so we have a vested interest in their success and making sure we are acting as a good partner in every way we can.”
Minuteman Press in Bakersfield is located at 4500 Easton Drive, Bakersfield, CA 93309. For more information, visit their website: https://minuteman.com/us/locations/ca/bakersfield/
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