Printing Industry Hall of Fame Inductee Bob Titus Keeps It in the Family
Bob Titus founded Minuteman Press alongside his father Roy in 1973 at just 19 years old. From humble beginnings as a single location, quick print shop, Minuteman is now an international franchise with close to 1,000 centers worldwide, so it’s easy to see why Bob Titus, CEO of Minuteman Press International, has been named a 2020 Printing Impressions/RIT Printing Industry Hall of Fame inductee. If you ask Titus himself, he’ll tell you it’s an honor earned by everyone in the Minuteman family.
“I’ve been in this industry a long time, but if we didn’t have the staff and the franchise owners that we have, we wouldn’t be talking,” he says. “They all made this happen. It’s our ideas and our system, and we guide them and push them through it, but it’s them being receptive to what we suggest and how they run their businesses that makes this a success.”
New company president and Bob Titus’ son, Nick, shares his father’s sentiment: “The whole story from the beginning to where we are today is a pretty incredible journey. From starting the business with my grandpa at 19 and building it into what it is today — the largest and No. 1 rated printing and marketing franchise in the world — is pretty incredible. It’s taken a lot of hard work, determination and a lot of good people around them, and I think that’s a testament to the kind of person he is.”
Started as a Single Center in New York
The international print, design, and marketing franchise that the world knows as Minuteman Press today started as a single center in Plainview, N.Y., a quick printer that soon began to see rapid growth. “We started just like any other quick printer with an electrostatic platemaker, only able to do single-color printing,” the elder Titus recalls. “Soon 3M came out with a Mylar plate that allowed us to produce commercial print quality at quick print prices, and we could do two-color printing. We then opened our second and third stores, which took off like rockets.”
Next, the plan was to build centers close by, in the New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut areas, where they would be close enough to keep an eye on them and help with the running. But before too long, some very persistent people wanted to open up in Boston, and even Los Angeles. Hence, the Minuteman Press franchise was born, and it was so successful that Roy and Bob Titus made the decision to sell their original stores and devote all their time to supporting the franchisees.
“Today, we have about 960 centers around the world, and we have well over 100 centers that are being run by the second generation,” Titus points out. “Minuteman owners are giving their kids jobs, because it’s tough to get jobs out there today and we are in a great industry that’s always evolving. And if they like the business, they eventually take it over, just like I’ve done here with my son.”
The people-focused approach has served Bob Titus and Minuteman well over the years, and perhaps comes so naturally thanks to its family-run roots. His father and co-founder, Roy Titus, made him company president in 1995, and Bob Titus passed the torch to Nick in December 2019 — “great timing by me,” he jokes, referring to the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic that occurred just a few months after. He is already looking ahead to the day his granddaughters join the business, although at four and five years old, he has a bit of a wait ahead.
Atmosphere Built Around Family, Friends
“Caring is a big factor,” Bob Titus notes, describing the benefits of a family dynamic. “With a family, everybody cares about the same thing. I still have four of my friends who I’ve known since I was six years old working for the company, so we built our business with family and friends. It’s been terrific. I know there are a lot of books out there that say never open a business with family and friends, but we’ve made a pretty darn good living out of it for 45 years!”
One of those friends is Jeff Robey, regional VP based in Ft. Lauderdale, Fla. A school friend of Bob Titus, Robey joined the business in 1976, taking up his current role a year later. He echoes the sentiment on the importance of caring, and describes Titus as such: “He’s very caring, not only for his employees, but his franchise owners as well. He really has their interests and their success in mind. That is something I have always appreciated, the way Minuteman Press really looks out for the franchisees. That is a culture that Bobby has instilled in us, how we run our regions, and how we support our franchisees.”
As well as passing the presidential torch to his son, Titus has clearly also passed on his family focus and respect for the people who make Minuteman what it is. “One of the biggest things I’ve learned from him is how important it is to treat people right,” Nick Titus says. “Business is business but, at the end of the day, our franchise owners and our employees are like family to us. We are a family-run business and we instill that throughout the entire organization — we’re all in it together. When making decisions and talking about growth and where we want to take the company, they’re always the first ones that we have in mind.”
As well as surrounding himself with the right people, Bob Titus has made a point of changing with the times and being open to embracing new technologies, processes, and products.
Now a Print and Marketing Powerhouse
Having started out as a quick copy shop, Minuteman now says it can “produce anything you can put a name, image, or logo on,” and has evolved into a print and marketing powerhouse that provides digital marketing campaigns, large-format printing and signage, graphic design services, promotional products, integrated strategies, direct mail programs, and more.
Now with Nick Titus as president, Minuteman will continue to look to the future and evolve. “We have always made it a point to stay on top of technology and make recommendations to our franchise owners as needed. Looking back, and seeing how far technology has come, is just incredible. Where it goes in the future? Speed and efficiency will continue to push companies forward and be a huge benefit for the industry as a whole.”
Robey also holds up Bob Titus as a champion for change, saying: “Bob has certainly transitioned the company from being strictly an offset printing operation to moving into the digital age and expanding the products that we sell in the stores. He puts the manpower out there to learn about what’s going on in the industry, so that we can keep our franchisees up to date and going in the right direction.”
These are extraordinary times, so when Bob Titus looks toward the future of the business during the current COVID-19 pandemic, his focus right now is short-term. His palpable positivity continues to shine through, however, even in uncertain circumstances: “The important thing is to look at the immediate future,” he advises. “We’ve got to figure out how we’re going to do business, as different states and different areas start to open up fully, to see what the new normal is going to be.”
“We need to take a step back and say, where do we go from here? But I can’t look to the future at this point, especially with what’s going on,” he continues. “We’ll be looking at the usual things, getting more customers, sales going up, but I think how you get the customers is going to change, and our great IT staff will help with that. I also see direct mail being very important, as well as advances in inkjet technology.”
The positivity for the future may be bolstered by the fact that people are continuing to buy Minuteman franchises during the pandemic. The business has adapted its model by taking its franchisee classroom to Zoom. The company has also launched an initiative called “Bounce Back” across different countries to help support businesses in local communities that have been hard-hit by COVID-19.
But looking forward isn’t all about business. Bob Titus is looking forward to watching his grandkids grow up, and likes to spend time on the golf course and on his fishing boat. “Fishing is something my father got into all of our blood. We do a lot of deep sea fishing. We bring our owners out on the boat, and they love it!”
With close to half a century in the business under his belt, Bob Titus hasn’t lost his passion for the industry to which he has dedicated his life. “It’s been a phenomenal 45-year ride for me,” he says. “I love this industry, but I don’t know as much about it as our store owners do! I’m a cheerleader; they have to do the hard work. I’m proud of our store owners and our staff — they make us what we are. It’s not one person making this happen, it’s the whole team working together.”
For Bob Titus, success begins and ends with the Minuteman Press family.
Karis Copp is an NCTJ-trained journalist and writer based in Bristol, currently carrying out freelance work in Bristol and London. She has experience writing for B2B retail publications, SEO content writing and editing for commercial websites, as well as fashion and lifestyle blogging and broadcast journalism/presenting.