Pete Cummings and Chuck Bentley have owned their Minuteman Press printing and marketing franchise in Richmond since May 2014. While the COVID-19 pandemic was certainly the biggest challenge for people and local businesses everywhere, Pete and Chuck managed to remain open as an essential business, adapt their products and services to what local businesses needed during the pandemic, and position themselves for sales growth both during and after the pandemic as a result of their hard work.
Pete says, “At the outset of the pandemic we were as alarmed as anyone else over not only what this could do to our business but our community and even the country as a whole. The prospect of slogging through months of economic slowdowns did cause us some anxiety in the beginning. However, we remained optimistic and determined to take advantage of any unique opportunities that the pandemic presented to those of us in the print world.”
He continues, “It quickly became apparent that those businesses allowed to remain open would need COVID-related printing and signs in order to both safely assist customers as well as stay in compliance with state and local ordinances. We discovered that some organizations had been allotted grant money from the Federal Government to help with pandemic-related safety requirements. We honed in on those agencies to let them know we were open as essential business and local to them. They responded well to our outreach efforts and we ended up doing a considerable volume of business printing floor decals, signs, logo-imprinted face masks, and other safety-related products. Almost every business that chose to remain open had similar pandemic-related printing needs and we wanted to do everything possible, especially for our local small businesses, to provide them everything we could to help them navigate these unchartered waters.”
“We primarily grew our business in 2020 through the expanded offering of signage, floor decals, posters, direct mail, and other essential printed items. We are anticipating that 2021 will see continued growth as more and more local businesses reopen and come back online.” -Pete Cummings, co-owner, Minuteman Press franchise, Richmond, Kentucky
Supporting Local Businesses During and After the Pandemic
Over the past year, Minuteman Press in Richmond has continued to reach out to local businesses as they reopen. Pete says, “We’ve seen a positive response from local business owners. Many of them seem as glad to see that we are still operating and succeeding as we are trying to help them achieve their own successes through these challenging times. I think in some ways we have had a galvanizing effect for local businesses as we are all in this together. It’s that ‘can-do spirit’ that can really lift others up and we are thankful to be a part of it.”
As more restrictions continue to be lifted and other local businesses reopen and recover, Pete and Chuck are ready to help them with custom printing products and marketing services. Pete says, “Because we have stayed open the entire time, Minuteman Press has the experience of helping all different types of businesses at all different phases of the pandemic. We have proven to be a valuable partner and we are excited to provide our business community with as many resources as possible to enhance their marketing and sales efforts.”
Pete continues, “Now that the tide is turning on the pandemic, we are encouraging clients to resume their direct marketing efforts. As conferences and events resume, we are promoting all of our capabilities including imprinted table throws, retractable banners, trade show displays, conference-related signage, and promotional products.”
Direct mail was another key area of growth that Minuteman Press in Richmond experienced during the pandemic. Pete is excited about the future prospects of direct mail as well. He says, “Surviving and flourishing during the past year has required some adaptation. Last year, direct marketing became very challenging with social distancing becoming the norm. To continue growing we looked to direct mailings as an additional revenue stream. Based on the success we saw from these efforts, we have decided to fully embrace direct mail. We would certainly encourage other businesses to utilize direct mailings as a way to ‘connect’ with potential customers as they ramp up and reopen.”
“Contrary to what some would have one believe, printing is not dead. The increased demand for direct mailings can partly be explained by the ‘contact-free’ environment of the pandemic era. With that said, I believe it also underscores how printed advertising campaigns, when utilized effectively, can yield significant results for our customers. We have also diversified our offerings with signs, promotional items, and apparel. This provides our customers with the convenience of getting everything done under one roof through someone they trust will give them the level of service and quality they expect. So, the printing industry has evolved but those who evolve with the industry will see continued success.” -Pete Cummings
Meet the People Behind the Business
As Pete and Chuck celebrate seven years in business this month, they reflect on their journey as well as their experiences as Minuteman Press franchise owners. One interesting thing to note is that Pete and Chuck come from two very different backgrounds and did not have any printing experience until joining the Minuteman Press family.
Pete explains, “I worked at a bank for roughly ten years after graduating from college and then owned/operated an outpatient pediatric rehabilitation center, offering Speech Therapy and Occupational Therapy to children. We were out of our home state of Kentucky at this time and once we had children we decided to return home. The same opportunities did not exist to operate a rehab center but I had small business ownership in my blood at that point and was actively looking for a good opportunity.”
He continues, “Chuck was a school teacher for ten years and he was growing restless. He began looking for a business opportunity that would allow for more financial freedom for his family. He mentioned this to his uncle, Garry Conley, who just so happened to own a Minuteman Press franchise in London, Kentucky along with Chuck’s Aunt, Amy Conley. We sat down with Garry and he did a pretty good job explaining the benefits. It was evident he was running a profitable operation so we listened intently and after meeting with our Regional Vice President Gary Nowak, we decided to take the plunge.”
“We opened in 2014 with zero customers and have seen steady growth every year since. Our rate of jobs quoted to jobs earned is very strong. We built the business, especially in the early years, heavily using direct marketing along with the Minuteman Press Internet Marketing program. Sometimes asking people for the opportunity to earn their business is all it takes to open the door to that first job. And once we get that first opportunity, we will almost always turn that person into a repeat customer either in the near future or somewhere down the road. Providing a quality product along with good, friendly service goes a long way.” -Pete Cummings
As Pete reflects on the past seven years and especially 2020 when the pandemic first hit, he is thankful to be part of the Minuteman Press franchise family. He says, “We are very grateful for the efforts Minuteman Press International made fairly early on in the pandemic to help keep franchisees flourishing. There’s no question that things could have turned out differently. From continued guidance on how to operate as an essential business to initiating the free Bounce Back program to support local businesses, it was all instrumental in helping us navigate this unprecedented time.”
When asked about the rewards of owning a business, Pete answers, “Financial freedom and the feeling that we can control our own destinies for us are the biggest rewards to business ownership. We can’t be the victim of a company downsize or see our jobs shipped overseas. We certainly work hard to achieve success but those efforts are going towards building something that directly benefits our families.”
As for what advice he would give to local businesses right now, Pete sums it up best by saying, “Don’t lose heart. I know it has been a tough year but as more and more sectors of the economy ramp things up again, economic opportunities will return.”
Pete Cummings and Chuck Bentley’s Minuteman Press franchise is located at 202 Wayne Dr., Ste. A; Richmond, KY 40475. For more information, call 859-314-1172 or visit their website: https://www.richmondky.minutemanpress.com.
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