The Printing Express : The Right Man for the JobAugust 2012 By Erik Cagle, Senior Editor
Michael Meredith was a picture of frustration. After 19 years as a commissioned salesman for an industrial chemical company, he officially despised his job. The company had been taken over and Meredith did not appreciate the changes that were taking place.
So, when his friend, Mark Earley—a Republican running for governor in the state of Virginia—asked him to work for his campaign as a statewide operative, Meredith jumped at the opportunity. Earley, however, was unsuccessful in his 2001 bid for the state's top post, losing a tight battle to Mark Warner. Meredith was back at square one.
As the countdown to election day ticked on, he ambled into The Printing Express—which had produced flyers in support of Meredith's historical book printing hobby—and chatted with the proprietor. "The owner asked me what I thought I would do when our candidate lost," Meredith recalls. "I jokingly said, 'Ed, would you hire me?' "
The two were kindred spirits, as 'Ed' also hated his job with a passion. Ed had purchased the Harrisonburg, VA-based print shop three-plus years earlier, was in full regret mode and made that clear with some colorful adjectives. Printing and Ed, apparently, did not go well together.
"He grumbled a few obscenities and said he'd be interested in selling the f&*#! place," Meredith notes. So began the absolute worst sales pitch in the history of the printing industry. But 60 days and one second home mortgage later (coupled with one-third financing by the overjoyed former owner), Meredith was the proud new conductor of The Printing Express.
Just one problem...he had absolutely no printing experience whatsoever. What Meredith did have, in spades, was sales experience and a confidence that if it was possible to turn The Printing Express into a winner, he was the man for the job.
Up to Challenge
"I had a fascination with the free market, along with what I thought was my ability to build business relationships," he says. "I was quite accomplished in sales and cocky enough to believe I could do much better than most people. I absolutely love the opportunity to operate in a country that avails itself to people, like me, who take a chance, work hard and receive a reward for their efforts. That motivates me every day I come into work."