In June of 1988, two brothers, Ron and Steve Palsa, decided to chart their own course and become business owners at just 24 and 25 years-old. Fast forward to 35 years later, and Ron and Steve continue to be the proud owners of the Minuteman Press franchise in Lafayette, CA. Not only are Ron and Steve still going strong, they are continually building their business and reaching new milestones.
Ron and Steve reflect on 35 years in business, share their keys to success and longevity, explain how they found their niche in their community with non-profits, and offer key reflections and advice for their fellow Minuteman Press franchisees (the below answers are joint answers between Ron and Steve, unless otherwise specified):
Q: Congrats! 35 years in business! What are the keys to your success and longevity?
A: “We’re proud to say that we are 35-year franchise owners. As long as you follow the Minuteman Press system and keep your foot on the gas pedal, then 35 years will feel like 35 months. At least that’s what it seems like!
It feels like only yesterday that we were signing our franchise agreement with Roy Titus (Nick’s grandfather) back in 1988. A good positive attitude and making sure that you and your equipment keep pace with the ever-evolving world we live in, is how we acquired our business stamina. But the most important key to our longevity is “listening to our customer’s needs.” They tell you what they want, it’s up to you to give them what they want … and with 5-star service.”
Q: What are the key ways you’ve grown your business?
A: “Our sales have grown because of a few things:
- First and foremost, I would say our superior sales and support service. Every client is a VIP, no matter how ‘unique’ their order may be, and we’ve seen a few of those doozies over 35 years.
- The Minuteman Press Internet Marketing Program has had a big impact on keeping us in the game and supplements our marketing. This system works, no doubt about it.
- Lastly, we still do quite a bit of direct mail, people still love opening mail, and I like giving them something to open up and look at. Nothing grabs their attention like discounts – 10% or 20% off printing, 2 for 1 deals, etc. Direct mail gets them coming in, with their coupon that came in the mail.”
Q: What are your high-demand products and services?
A: “Believe it or not we still focus a lot on print on paper. Our core products still involve printing on press by means of digital or ink and either in-house or farmed out. Lots and lots of paper. I know there are shops really highlighting promotional products and advertising specialties and I would love to be able to say that we did more of it, but we’ll have to try and get more of that in our mix in the future because I know there is a huge opportunity there.”
Q: How would you best describe your community?
A: “Our community is filled with non-profits, and this is where we’ve excelled. All of the non-profit folks talk to each other, even if they are not affiliated. We did well with the first couple of non-profit organizations by providing an excellent product, with superior service at a fair price. Once other non-profits caught on to what we were doing, then they all started flocking to us with the understanding that we were the go-to source for great printing and related services. It just started to steamroll after that.”
Q: Why do you think printing remains so vital to businesses today?
A: “As much as the digital or online presence seems to be the future, I think that people still love to have something tangible in their hands. We’ve had monthly newsletters go away because they went online, only to come back a year later because of the negative feedback. I have seen iPads try to replace blueprints in construction fields; those workers want large format paper blueprints, not some electronic toy that will probably break after a few good knocks. No matter what might be trending right now, paper is here to stay. High tech has its place in our industry but it will never ever replace it.”
Q: What was your background before franchising and why did you choose Minuteman Press?
Steve Palsa’s A: “I was originally in swimming pool construction and Ron was a print buyer for an education company so he was the one that got us into this. We always wanted to do something on our own but really didn’t know what. Since he was buying printing from a number of different sources, he started poking around and realized the profitability in printing.
Once we decided that maybe this was something of interest, we started looking at franchising. At that time (1988) we looked at Minuteman Press and others and at the end of the day we finally decided on MMP. We were quite impressed by their shear market size and presence. The support mechanism they had in place for your success was jaw-dropping. All of the tools were there for you to make money… just follow the system is what the great Roy Titus used to say.
Minuteman Press proved that this system worked and we were all in. In June of 1988, we made our franchise purchase and never looked back. 35 years later, I can honestly say the exact same things that I would say then. I’m happy to be a Minuteman Press franchise owner and pleased with their product… successful, profitable printing franchises.”
Q: What has the support from Minuteman Press International been like for you?
A: “At any time when needed, Minuteman Press is there for us. This is the part I spoke of earlier about the support mechanism. We knew going into this that it was a home run, how could we lose? We couldn’t. Whenever we’ve had an issue over the years and to this day, a call to our local RVP Bob Ylinen or anyone else at the home office and they have been responsive. Anything that pops up, the whole local and home office support teams have been and are still there to help resolve any issues.”
Q: What are the biggest rewards of owning your business?
A: “Owning our own business had always been a lifelong dream for us. Fortunately, we were able to get at it fairly early, and somewhat easily thanks to Mom and Dad. Getting that check from them wasn’t as easy, but we made them proud since we were only 24 and 25 years-old. Being a young business owner at that time gave us some nice bragging rights so we worked our tails off to make sure that we could continue our bragging about young business entrepreneurship. But now 35 years later and somewhat out to pasture, we’re just pleased to say we made a nice comfortable living in the printing/copying world.”
Q: What advice would you give to other business owners / Minuteman Press owners?
A: “If we were to give any advice to any up and coming business owners including my fellow Minuteman Press franchisees, it would have to be these few tidbits of info:
- Believe in yourself and that you can do this. Positive mental approach goes a long way in achieving your goals.
- Stay the course, and try not to vary from the system. The system has been proven to work, you just need to make it work for you to make money.
- And last but not least, ask a lot of questions. Ask how other shops do things, ask how new equipment can improve your production, ask how to keep employees motivated, ask where the best price on paper is, ask what vendor is the best fit for you farm out job, ask, ask, ask.
Do these things, and you’ll thank yourself later!”