Minuteman Press of Norwalk: Solving Pieces of the Puzzle
Greg Duffey and Joe Brenneis have worked together in the commercial printing industry since 1989 for various incarnations of RPC Printing Co. They served clients as large as USPS, Mars, Nautica, Victoria's Secret and Calvin Klein. When the two discussed joining talents to open a business, they initially thought a franchise printing company was not what they wanted, but after being presented with an opportunity to purchase a failing Minuteman Press in Norwalk, CT, they thought they might be able to turn it around.
"We figured we could bring big commercial talent and experience to a small commercial printer—something we thought was lacking among many such companies," explains Duffey. Papers were signed in September 2003, and impressively, the dynamic duo increased sales volumes by 750 percent.
"We didn't have any magic formula to grow the business," Duffey admits. "But we did know that the only way to survive would be to invest our time, talent, energy and money." They began by launching a direct mail postcard campaign in combination with sales visits to existing customers "and good, old-fashioned cold calling," he says. The team also joined several local business networking groups and reached out to previous contacts.
Next, they invested money in technology. The previous store had one Windows-based PC; an old, single-color press; and even older bindery equipment. "We literally threw out about 99 percent of what existed," Duffey notes, replacing them with new machines and iMacs.
The store was cleaned from top to bottom and repainted. "With first impressions being the most lasting, this was a top priority for us," he relays.
Key Digital Devices
After two moves, the company now occupies a clean, 3,200-square-foot building. A Konica Minolta bizhub PRESS C8000 digital color press and an OKI Data Pro 900 digital envelope press are now operating, the first such installations in Fairfield County, CT. Duffey remembers that he and Brenneis first considered a C7000 model.
"One of the sales reps asked what our needs were," recalls Duffey, "and we explained we saw a trend in printing on heavier stocks. He led us to the C8000." The increase in speed and the ability to handle heavier grades have allowed Minuteman Press of Norwalk to produce jobs faster and better.
At the same time, the company also installed the OKI device because calls were coming in for short-run, color envelopes and short-run, variable address projects. The machine was a perfect fit. "It allows us to do very quick turnarounds on full-color envelopes at a lower price point," he says. The business has become a go-to spot for invitation envelope printing with variable addresses. In addition, small mailings can be done in-house without the additional expense of outsourcing.
The two partners always keep an ear to the ground for companies interested in merging their businesses. In 2011, they acquired Exact Printing & Graphics, a family-owned operation consisting of a father and two sons. The two sons have since join the team at Minuteman Press of Norwalk, making seven total employees. The year prior, when Duffey and Brenneis approached a local sign shop about merging, the owner declined.
So they went to Grimco, a sign supply company, for advice and soon installed a 61˝ HP Designjet L26500 Latex wide-format printer, a Mimaki plotter and a Royal Sovereign laminator. "We now produce banners, posters, poster boards, event signage, P-O-P displays, window and wall graphics, and more," says Duffey.
Latex printing is one area where the owners predict significant growth in the next few years. "Anything that is better for the environment and less taxing on the operators because no ventilation is required will always be a win-win," he remarks.
Last year, the company's revenues reached $1.1 million. Duffey likens the firm's success to putting together several puzzle pieces. "It can be easy to fall into the trap that one's success is measured simply in sales volume, but sales don't always equal profit," he says.
Duffey and Brenneis would eventually like to open a second storefront location in a neighboring town and add additional marketing staff to assist their dedicated salesperson. These plans, among others, will help make their jigsaw puzzle picture-perfect. PI