Garry Conley Talks Transitioning from Truck Shop Operator to Business Owner, Minuteman Press Franchise Success, and What It Means to Be Recognized as a Top Business Leader in Kentucky
LONDON, Ky.—When Garry Conley took over his Minuteman Press franchise in 2004, he had finally realized his dream. Ever since high school, Conley had aspirations of one day becoming an entrepreneur, but it wasn’t until he was spurned by his former employer that he decided to take action. Now, all these years later, Conley’s dream has been reaffirmed as he has been recognized by his peers in Kentucky by being awarded the Excellence in Entrepreneurship Award in the For-Profit Business category at the annual EIEA Awards presented by Eastern Kentucky University College of Business and Technology, Kentucky Highlands Investment Corp., Southeast Kentucky Economic Development (SKED) Corp., and The Center for Rural Development.
From Truck Shop Operator to Entrepreneur
Since he was 19 years-old, Garry Conley had worked as a diesel mechanic, and worked his way up as high as he could to the position of truck shop operator. Because it was a salaried position, the hours became long while the paycheck remained the same. When Garry was passed up for a promotion he knew he deserved, that was the moment he knew he needed a change.
“I knew I went as far as I could go,” laments Conley. “As luck would have it, right around that same time is when my wife Amy found the ad for a Minuteman Press franchise in the local Corbin, Kentucky newspaper.”
After seeing the ad, Garry didn’t hesitate. He visited the Minuteman Press website, filled out an online form, and the next day he was contacted by Regional Vice President Gary Nowak. “Gary Nowak called me the next day. We then met in Lexington so I could tour an existing franchise and speak with the owner. I liked what I saw immediately and found that this was possible.” Conley adds, “I then went to six other franchises in one day. They all said the same thing: You will get the support you need, and the opportunity is here.”
After touring seven different franchises in his area and being given the chance to speak with various franchise owners from all different business backgrounds, Garry Conley – with the support of his wife Amy – made the decision to leave the truck shop behind for good. After completing the Minuteman Press training program in Farmingdale, NY, Conley officially took over his Minuteman Press franchise in London, KY in April 2004.
Garry recalls, “The training program really helped me because I understood how business works. The more that the trainers talked, the more I could draw similarities when it came to running a smooth production operation and providing excellent customer service. I didn’t need to know anything about creative design or the technical aspects of printing; I just needed to do what I knew I was born to do, which was to get out there, work hard, and build my business.”
In the eleven years since Garry Conley started running his franchise, his business has grown tremendously. Sales are up, and a staff of three in 2004 is now a staff of eight in 2015. Conley employs two graphic artists/customer service reps, one graphics/promotional products professional, one digital press operator, one offset press operator, and one bindery/delivery person. He and Amy fill out the staff, and Garry is thrilled that he has the pieces in place to really offer his clients the highest levels of quality and service.
“We went from one offset press to being able to do so much now, from digital printing and direct mail to promotional products. Our promotional products business continues to grow, thanks to our staff member Carrie. When she takes a phone call, we don’t just create plans for giveaways but we come up with a complete marketing plan that helps our clients get the most out of their promotional products campaigns.”
Excellence in Entrepreneurship
The Excellence in Entrepreneurship award is especially meaningful to Garry Conley because it is the culmination of all of the years of hard work and a validation of his business. “To even be nominated was huge, and to win, I can’t even describe the feeling.” He adds, “It was very emotional for me, and it was very important to be recognized by this group. These were the most important friends in the business community that I could have.”
The EIEA is available to 55 counties in Kentucky, which is about half of the entire state. When Conley first found out he made the Top 3 for For-Profit Businesses, he already felt like he had won. “They came into the center, did a video highlighting my business. It was a real treat.”
During his acceptance speech, after Conley thanked all of the sponsors and everyone else who made this possible, he remarked, “I am not naive enough or arrogant enough to believe that any degree of success we have attained was possible without divine intervention and guidance. I met several incredible entrepreneurs today and I am inspired by what I think the future holds for each of them. Congratulations to all of the finalists and winners from today’s event.”
So what has life been like for Conley since winning? “I am congratulated on the street,” he says with a smile.
A typical day for Garry Conley involves a morning production meeting with the staff to make sure everyone is on the same page for the day. Conley then focuses on what he does best – building his business. “I go right into my marketing after the meeting – following up with people, speaking with new clients. As a Chamber of Commerce member in London, I make sure I am out there to welcome new businesses into the community, attend ribbon cuttings and help them get acclimated. I’ll give them my number, and leave behind some pens, mugs, business cards, just to let them know I am here for them.”
One thing that really helps Conley keep track of everything is FLEX, the proprietary software program that Minuteman Press has developed in-house to help owners manage their business. Conley says, “FLEX makes everything so much easier, from keeping track of marketing campaigns to daily workflow. There is not a program that is better for commercial printers in the U.S. that is better than FLEX. That is just one of the many benefits of being part of the Minuteman Press system.”
Garry continues, “Anytime I need local support, Minuteman Press is here for me. I also love the mass purchasing power they have when it comes to the types of contracts I can get with our suppliers. It’s just great to be able to be part of a system that is designed to help owners like me succeed.”
“I worked for 30 years in Corbin, KY, but I was not a part of the community.”
When reflecting on his journey, that is the most profound statement Garry made about what life has been like since becoming a Minuteman Press franchise owner. He elaborates, “I joined the Chamber of Commerce three days into owning my business, and I have rarely missed a meeting. I am in three different Chambers of Commerce to be involved in the community so I can make an impact. Being a business owner freed me up to join the Rotary club, to sponsor three football teams in my community – 3rd, 4th, and 5th grade teams. I paid $500 to sponsor these teams and I get so much back in return. The Thank You messages I get from parents alone are worth it.”
He concludes, “My wife and I are children’s pastors in Corbin since 1990. Owning the business just has freed me up to do even more, and that’s an amazing thing.”
Ideal Day Off
With business booming, life is good for Garry Conley. So what does an ideal day off look like for a man who has worked hard to get to where he is? Garry is quick to answer, as if he’s had a few days like this before: “Sleep in a little bit. Get breakfast from Cracker Barrel or Steak ‘n Shake. Watch my boys play football, maybe take in a movie. Have a nice dinner, and then go home and collapse.”
Advice for Others
Eleven years into his Minuteman Press franchise business, Garry Conley has learned a thing or two about how to thrive as an entrepreneur. When asked about the advice he would give to others who have the same aspirations he did, Conley thinks for a minute and then says, “Count the costs and expect to work. It’s not going to come easy, but it will come.”
Looking for design, printing or marketing services? Contact Garry Conley and his Minuteman Press staff at (606)-862-9195 or visit www.londonky.minutemanpress.com.
To learn more about joining the #1 rated Minuteman Press franchise family, call us at 1-800-645-3006 or simply fill out the contact form on this page.