Beddor: One of a Kind —Michelson
FRANK BEDDOR JR., who died last month at the age of 83, was one of those rare individuals who made life happen while others were still pondering how to live theirs. A consummate entrepreneur and showman, he would enter the printing industry in Minnesota in 1950 and go on to create a printing conglomerate comprised of 10 companies in three states. In all, Beddor started more than 25 businesses over his lifetime—some successful, some not. But that did not deter him; he credited his failures with paving the way for his successes. In fact, he even delighted in creating a list of “Frankie’s Failures” for a speech about entrepreneurship.
A sampling of his endeavors: While still attending the University of Minnesota in 1948, Beddor opened the Tub Inc. near campus, one of the nation’s first self-service laundromats. The same year, he came up with the Plexi-Top, a clear plastic hard top for use with convertible cars in cold weather. In another venture, Frank created a company to market a type of beer (geared toward women) that tasted like champagne. After seeing a water ski show in Florida, he founded a water ski act— called the Ski Antics—that eventually toured the Midwest. To promote the act, and his home state of Minnesota as a vacation destination, Frank set a world record by water-skiing 1,800 miles down the Mississippi River from Minneapolis to New Orleans—while wearing a Paul Bunyan costume. Always an adventurer, he even rode his Harley from Minnesota to South America, pulling his Great Dane “Rowdy” behind him in a cart.
In 1950, Beddor went to work for his father in sales at the Japs-Olson Co., before eventually leaving in 1961 to launch Magtronics Inc., a specialist in magnetic ink imprinting (MICR) on checks. That “failure” led him to other industry sales posts, starting his own print brokerage and, ultimately, the acquisition of Printing Inc. and then several other ailing printing companies. Beddor also started Instant Services Inc. in 1969 (IWCO) and several other firms. A 1987 Printing Impressions/RIT Printing Industry Hall of Fame inductee, he sold five printing companies to Banta in 1988, two to D.B Hess in 1992, and IWCO to venture capitalists in 2005.