Bob and Ruth Davidson first opened their Minuteman Press franchise in Tigard, OR (a suburb of the Portland, OR greater metro area), in December of 1987. After 35+ years of hard work and dedication to their clients and their community, Bob and Ruth are ready for their next chapter and have made way for the next generation of owners.
Bob and Ruth also just recently renewed their franchise agreement for the next 35 years. Their son Craig Davidson with his wife Carolyn and longtime manager Christopher Brown with his wife Lisa, have purchased the business as of February 1, 2023, and are continuing with Minuteman Press as a strong, viable and supportive franchise model, that has been one of the key components to the long-term success of this location. Minuteman Press in Tigard is located at 7555 S.W. Hermoso Way, Tigard, OR 97223.
Bob reflects on 35 years of ownership, sharing his keys to success and longevity, growing the family business, and why the future is bright for Minuteman Press in Tigard.
Congrats on your incredible 35 years in business! What does this milestone mean to you?
“Life is a series of changes and this is one of them. Frankly, it is time for the next generation to have their opportunity to build on, and create, their own success story. And, it is past time for Ruth and I to enjoy some of the rewards that we have been blessed with, by the success of our business.”
What are 4 keys to your success and longevity?
“FIRST: Ruth and I thank God for his blessing on us in this endeavor. My prayer at the time of starting the business was: ‘God, I am not the smartest guy in the world, so please open the doors if it is in your will, or if not, hit me over the head with a brick to get my attention.’
SECOND: I would have to say without any qualification, my wife, Ruth. When we first started our business, we were 37 years-old and I left a nearly 20-year seniority position with a national trucking company as a Teamster employee truck driver. Which also meant that I gave up a union scale wage rate, with medical and retirement benefits. Ruth at that time, was a full-time homemaker to our two children.
She has stood beside me as a full partner, and fully supported the decision to start our own business. But we honestly and freely admit, it was a decision and a concern to us both. She worked just as hard as I in the business every day. Her 51% ownership and my 49% ownership enable us to qualify as both a ‘Woman-owned’ and ‘Veteran-owned’ business due to my military service. So far, Ruth hasn’t fired me, although I am sure that the thought has come to her mind on occasion!
Our primary roles in the business gradually formed over time, with Ruth managing the office and all that entails and also the bindery portion of our business. I was the salesman, customer service and vendor liaison for outside services and supplies.
THIRD: Would be the advice, support and assistance of the Regional Minuteman Press staff and also the other local Minuteman Press owners in the area. Their advice, suggestions, guidance, experiences, help and information were of great value in our beginning years.
FOURTH: This would of course be our customers. We obviously would not exist without them. While we have ‘busted our tails’ to serve them over the years, they have in turn been incredibly loyal. We still have customers today, that initially became customers in our first year of business. We are thankful for them.
BONUS TIP: My advice on customer acquisition? Take anything that comes your way. But, know that your fellow, small, local businesses, will be your most loyal and long-term customers. They will be your most consistent support and strength through the years. It is ‘sexy’ to acquire a larger nationally known corporation as a client, but they typically do not last. A new purchasing agent will come in, some other shop beats your price by a percentage point or two, or they close the local office or HQ and move away. All of the above have been my experiences. Enjoy the large companies while they last, but don’t wrap your business around them.”
You have just renewed your franchise agreement for the business transition. What does it mean to you, knowing the business will stay in the family and remain in great hands?
“It means a great deal to us, to be able to see what my wife and I have built over the years, continue on into the next generation and chapter. We have been blessed, in having Craig and Christopher both with us for so long. That has allowed for a gradual and nearly seamless transition. For the past two years, Ruth and I have been gradually turning over more and more of the management and decision-making to ‘the boys’ as we call them. They have made all of the equipment purchases and hiring decisions for the past 2 years. They have also attended the past 2 Minuteman Press World Expo Conventions.
Also, if Minuteman Press HQ was not the company that it has been, there would have been no reason for us to renew our franchise agreement. What do I mean by that, you might say? Our experience has been one of excellent, ongoing support in all aspects from Minuteman Regional & HQ.
We truly appreciate their business franchise model; their ongoing support, the network of ‘Preferred Vendors’; and their early adoption of computerized pricing, which has evolved into the FLEX program that does so many functions today that were not even dreamed of 35 years ago. All these and more make a great package and a desirable business model to follow and continue with.
And then there is the family aspect, not only mine, but also the Titus family. It had been my privilege to know the founder, Roy Titus. And then to also know his son Bob Titus and now Nick and Jackie Titus, as they have all ‘grown up’ in the business and taken on their leadership roles. What is most impressive to me is that they have all been ‘just folks’ … unpretentious and unassuming, kind and caring, and have become personal friends. They have never lost sight, now through three generations, that they are stewards of an amazing corporation, that while it first and foremost is a major business, it also at the same time cares for and treats everyone like extended family.
Minuteman Press International also makes sure to recognize individual achievement. It is only human to be gratified, when our best efforts are recognized by others. Minuteman’s system of recognition for various sales levels, marketing, print quality, shop appearance and other awards, are all appreciated as tangible markers of various achievements. As a 25-year (now retired) veteran of the Army, I see many parallels to Minuteman’s system of such recognition, to the military’s awards of ribbons and service medals for exemplary service.”
What does the transition mean for your customers?
“I jokingly say that this transition means ‘nothing’ to our customers. That is because unless they ask, the vast majority of our clients won’t even know right away, that Ruth and I have stepped back.
But it also means ‘everything’ to them with regards to their printing needs. I have every confidence that Craig and Christopher will continue in the same manner of excellent quality and service that we have provided up to this point.
It means that between our production efforts and that of our vendors and everyone else behind the scenes, that our customers will continue to receive a top-quality product, that is consistent, timely, and fairly priced, every time. And if for some reason it isn’t, we make it right, no questions asked.”
What are some of the key ways you’ve grown your business (products, marketing, networking, etc.)?
“Well, the short answer is ‘Yes’ … all of the above.
PRODUCTS: Through Minuteman HQ’s urging, guidance and vendor connections, we have branched out into many areas that we previously did not do, or consider. Mailing services, checks and deposit slips, signs and banners, promotional products, clothing / wearables. All of these are later additions to our original business model.
MARKETING: When we initially began in 1987, marketing was almost exclusively ‘cold calls’ on local businesses. The follow-up was a 3” x 5” Index Card file that was sorted by ‘call back’ dates (which I still have). That and the Yellow Page ads were your two primary sources for getting your name out.
Now, digital is the primary method and our Google Reviews rating of 4.9 stars along with the reviews posted there, are critical. A frequent response from new customers when we ask, ‘How did you hear about us?’, is almost always our high Google standing. Following that would be that they received a referral from another customer.
NETWORKING: Do it! We have many, many customers that have come to us through our contacts in Rotary, our local Business Leads group (LeTip) and several local Chambers of Commerce. Some of those customers are among our largest accounts.”
What are the high-demand products and services as well as growth areas?
“Digital and offset printing are still the core tenants of our business. All other services are either in support of those, or a supplement to rounding out the main portion of that business. Our overall business mix is still approximately 1/3 offset, 1/3 digital and 1/3 outside services of all types. Digital printing is the fastest growing segment of our business.”
How would you best describe your community?
“Tigard is a bedroom community of the Portland Metro area. There is a good mix of local businesses of all types, small manufacturing, distribution and warehousing. It is a growing area, as many businesses are leaving the downtown core as the switch to ‘remote’ work continues. Tigard is both a residential and business community, with a healthy mix of both.”
Why do you think printing remains so vital to businesses today?
“People respond well to a tangible, physical piece that you can hold in your hand. It also has a tendency to be saved, whereas a digital ad piece is quickly passed by and forgotten.”
What was your background before franchising and why did you choose Minuteman Press?
“I was a local pickup and delivery driver for a national truck line for nearly 20 years. At the same time, I was also an Enlisted man and then Officer in the Oregon Army National Guard. I had 4 years of active duty and 21 years of National Guard service time as a reservist. Ruth was primarily a homemaker, with our two children.
In the late 1980s, it was a time of great turmoil in the transportation industry – trucking, railroads and airlines, due to deregulation. Many of those businesses either merged or closed. That was cause for concern to me as I was in the trucking industry as my primary job.
I and a friend of mine went to a local business fair in the summer of 1987. Of the many business ‘opportunities’ presented there, the one for Minuteman Press was the only one that seemed to have it ‘together’. Their presentation was easily understandable, well-organized and made sense. I then began to do the follow-up process of visiting existing shops. Minuteman Press also made it easy to go through all of the multitude of steps in opening a new business, such as the training, equipment, securing a location, and the initial opening and marketing phases.”
What has the support from Minuteman Press International been like for you?
“TRAINING: Ruth and I went thru the 2-week training course at Minuteman HQ in New York. And when my son Craig first came to work for us, we sent him to the New York Minuteman School, so that he would also have that base training and experience.
SUPPORT: As a ‘mature’ shop of 35+ years, we seldom have a need to call on either the Regional or National offices. But when we have, they have always been responsive and helpful. This would also be the appropriate time to extend our ‘THANK YOUS!’ to Chris Jutt, Jason Kraus, Chris Multari, Mike Jutt, and Brendan Reilly for their ongoing support and responsiveness, anytime that we have had a question or an issue.
When we have made major equipment purchases (recently high-speed Digital Printers, a new Challenge 30” Programable Cutter), we have received advice and support from HQ, as well as getting favorable Minuteman Press pricing.
FLEX: A great program that does so very much. It is light years beyond the first computer program that we started with.”
What are the biggest personal and professional rewards of owning your business?
Having some control of your own future, but my joke is: ‘I have no deadlines of my own, my customers provide them all.’
I also find it to be rewarding to be doing something that you enjoy or find satisfaction in.
Every day is both the same, and yet different, as every job is unique in some way. The challenge of the coordination of a multitude of various aspects, personal, equipment and vendors, to bring a job to completion. I sometimes liken it to a conductor directing an orchestra, to bring a complete item out of many parts. When things ‘go south’ as they sometimes do, making a solution happen in some different way.”
What advice would you give to other business owners or people looking to own a business?
“If you never try, you will never know if you could have done it. Be bold. Join a service organization, business group and local chambers and PARTICIPATE. People do business (and refer others who they know) with those that they know and trust.
Attend the regional meetings and learn from Minuteman Press and your fellow owners. Attend the World Expos and learn even more and be boosted up by your shared experiences. Follow the Minuteman Press program and advice as much as is possible. You paid for it, and it works, so use it.”
Is there anything else you’d like to share?
“I’d like to share a famous quote from Winston Churchill, which is also the attitude of those of us who have served in the military: ‘Never give in. Never give in. Never, never, never, never – in nothing great or small, large or petty – never give in………’”
Minuteman Press in Tigard is located at 7555 S.W. Hermoso Way, Tigard, OR 97223. For more information, visit their website: https://minuteman.com/us/locations/or/tigard/
Learn more about #1 rated Minuteman Press franchise opportunities and read Minuteman Press franchise reviews at https://minutemanpressfranchise.com.
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