In February of 2001, Sandy and Jesse Aguilera purchased a pre-existing Minuteman Press franchise in Kenosha, Wisconsin, but the printing industry brought them together many years earlier. “Both of us have been in printing most of our lives. We met at a big film making company in Illinois at which Jesse was an original team-member and respected executive and I came on-board in the customer service department,” Sandy explains. They both have a natural affinity for getting to the crux of business to deliver exactly what is needed while putting people at ease, even under pressure.
Their efficiency, industry expertise and steady leadership remains laced with a nurturing quality that they put to work as employees at a large company, contributing to its great success. Jesse could have remained retired after 30 years of such good work and similarly, as she retired from full-time work, Sandy continued to telecommute as a graphic artist at home. Fortunately, the community of Kenosha is prospering in print, design and marketing because they could not stay retired. They were destined to be the leaders of the modern printing industry that they are today as Minuteman Press franchise owners.
“At our former company, we did color scanning and film work for large publishers such as McGraw Hill and Scott Foresman and we shipped our work to larger printers to produce textbooks for schools all over the country, but we also prepared work for other big-name publishers like Playboy,” Jesse explains. Sandy retired from the company two years after the couple was married, but she continued in the graphic arts until Jesse joined her in retirement: “I was doing graphic design from home but shortly after Jesse’s retirement, we did some research and bought a Minuteman Press franchise. (In earlier years, I had a press and darkroom in our garage and this was something that felt very comfortable for me). This location was struggling and did not work to maintain its reputation so we had some hard work ahead of us. We went to our 2 weeks of training at Minuteman Press International in February, 2001, intending to bring the business success and then go off and retire, but we are still here. I love the business.”
When you buy an underperforming printing business, it can take a while to turn things around and it happens that Jesse and Sandy were the caretakers this center needed.
In 2001, we had two older offset presses, a dark room some bindery equipment and an old analog Xerox high speed copier. The pace of technology in printing is not slowing and Minuteman Press franchise owners have access to the latest upgrades, so today, digital and inkjet printing keep ever-present printing demands satisfied. She continues, “By the end of the first few months, we had replaced and upgraded the technology and staff. At that time by adding a digital HP Color Press which produced full color pages at 12 pages per minute (not bad at that time). Over the years we have upgraded equipment from both Xerox and Konica Minolta. Now we have a Xerox 4112 Black & White Digital press with bookmaker capabilities as well as a Xerox C75 color digital press also with booklet making capabilities and an Oki Data digital color press for printing envelopes. Also added was a Duplo DC-616 automatic slitter, cutter, perforating machine and mailing equipment for our direct mail and EDDMs. As, the previous owners did not follow the system, the negative impact on the reputation of the center made it hard for people to trust us at first. However, Jesse joined BNI and Chamber of Commerce and we found ways to become active in the community. People had a chance to meet us and see that we serve with care and do quality work. Our approach is casual and very friendly, but we stay organized and get to work for everyone who comes to us for help.”
Jesse reflects on the process of rebuilding trust with a visit from a dissatisfied print customer. He says, “A man came in whose company provides CPR training and told us that he had such poor quality experience before and that he would never come into our store again. One day, his wife stopped in and gave us a job which we completed to her satisfaction and after completing several more jobs with satisfaction for her, she told us she was going to let her husband know who did it. That was sixteen years ago and in terms of quantity, he is probably one of our biggest repeat customers today. We are particular about everything, even packaging. Everything that comes back to the client reflects our high quality.”
As word spread about the premier marketing services providers managing the Kenosha Minuteman Press, Jesse and Sandy gained popularity among those with a brand to promote and messages to spread, from across many industries. These days, the companies that make most of their money online still count upon print and a big one counts upon Jesse and Sandy’s team. He explains, “We just started doing work for Amazon’s HR department. We print various plastic badges for some of their departments and a giant manual for their corporation. They needed that manual printed and bound quickly (within a day) and when we took care of it for them, they assured us they will be coming back for more assistance.”
“Sandy & Jesse Aguilera are wonderful to work with and I always enjoy spending time with them. They’ve built their business by providing their customers top customer service and an awesome looking product, reasons why they have a very high level of repeat customers. Many have been doing business with them since they purchased their Minuteman Press in Kenosha.” – Doug Harlan, Regional Vice President – Minuteman Press International
Jesse’s appreciation of the people who work in his center grows stronger as he supports their outside interests.
While Jesse manages the accounting and administration, Sandy is the Production and Graphics manager and she notes, “We have a great staff and we have not had a lot of employee turnaround for many years here. Cale Brown and Dan Turk, both have graduated from college with Graphic Arts Degrees. They have been part of our team for over 3 years. Adam Christman has been with us for fourteen years now and is our Senior Designer. The entire team shares in all aspects of our business. Adam is fantastic with graphics and people as well and has always been instrumental in working with the team with assisting with graphic applications and finishing.
There is a tone of ease and comfort Jesse and Sandy maintain and that makes their team extra productive, ultimately. He shares, “I like the idea that our people have activities outside of work and come to us for support when they need flexibility. That feeling extends to clients. For instance, Cale coaches track and field so we made a deal that when he has an event, we allow him to go so he can realize other aspects of his life. He is a natural teacher and that part of his personality comes back and helps our business grow. I like to get to know our staff by what they share of their personal lives and see how those talents can be incorporated in what we do here. Their growth outside and inside our company is important and I know it because I was in HR for many years. I know that people show they are capable in many ways and one of those ways is how they use time outside of work.”
In fact, it was Adam’s inclination towards sharing his knowledge that led to a connection, eventually, with their client, a regional medical center.
“College kids learn from Adam because he has a thirst for learning and sharing himself. One day, a college student came in and Adam helped her with a project, going into great detail, showing her what to do. She ultimately got a job with a regional medical center, post-graduation, and when they needed customized holiday ornaments, she called us. We printed and die-cut these ornaments for the Tree Lighting, a big holiday ceremony for the organization and the people for whom they provide care,” according to Sandy.
In the spirit of making things work and with faith that they have the technology, expertise and determination, Sandy said YES to a job that, frankly, was new to them and there was little time to finish it before the deadline. She explains, “We did not know exactly how we were going to do it at first and we were under the gun, but we did it and they were happy. As we pleased them with each new project, we started handling marketing services on a wider scale for them. We take care of printing and promotional products for charity walks and we take care of many needs of a part of the organization that runs special events for the patients . We are happy to take care of all of those needs.”
Jesse’s and Sandy’s willingness to nurture the teacher in their employee, Adam, gave him freedom to help out a design student who came to Minuteman Press Kenosha for guidance.
Jesse notes, “Another good thing about our partnership with the medical center is that other hospitals in the system have sent work to us as well. We have printed and mailed holiday cards for ALL of the hospitals as well as printed multiple branded T-shirts for all the hospitals.”
Both the Minuteman team and staff at the center appreciate the working relationship.
“Twelve years ago, I visited Minuteman Press in Kenosha for a small project and despite it being a modest job, their associate, Adam, spent an exceptional amount of time working with me to make it perfect,” says Angela. “I’ll never forget that. In fact, I’ve come to rely upon that personalized service time and again.”
For one of the center’s largest events, the Minuteman Press team assisted in the development of an array of material, including mailings, info cards, programs, signage and more.
“They even came out and helped us install our signage to make sure everything fit as planned,” said Angela. “We trust them to take care with special projects like this because they are excellent with our brand.”
At the end of the day – the result was a memorable celebration for some of the center’s patients and a working relationship that has extended throughout the organization. “Sandy, Jesse and their entire staff are wonderful” adds Angela.
Sandy and Jesse continue to lead the printing industry that united them decades ago in a way that sparks Angela to conclude, “Minuteman Press in Kenosha is an extension of our team.”