Elizabeth Blanco and Roger Casas are siblings and Minuteman Press franchise owners with prior careers in creativity and excellent service. Through their digital print, design, marketing center and with extra care, they help MCCFM continue promoting youth development, cultural diversity and community wellness.
Creating things of beauty is what she does best. Elizabeth Blanco has an untethered, nurturing spirit and a life defined by serving the needs of others. In the airline, restaurant and art industries that built her resume she earned respect quite naturally. Meanwhile, her brother, Roger Casas has an eye for the perfect scenario (artistically and strategically) with a professional profile that includes photography, design and a rise to Vice President of Marketing for an educational video company. They would work together twice in life with a gap marked by individual exploration that taught them one thing: Being the boss is always best.
After her son Davy was born, Elizabeth took a leave of absence from her job with an airline in New York to give herself fully to motherhood and move to California. Providing an idyllic childhood for Davy, she also waitressed at a deli when a chance to buy the restaurant presented and was taken by her parents. Elizabeth, joined by her brother, Roger, spent five years providing a feast of good food and good times in Torrance, CA.
The Casas restaurant venture became a favorite in dining and catering, until their father fell ill and they were forced to sell and find new ways to make livings. “It was a huge deli and we did well until our Dad got cancer and we sold. Roger went his way and I went mine. I continued as a caterer, head waitress at private parties and making food look beautiful as a food-stylist for thirty years. We even catered for the People’s Choice Awards and the career did well by me. Then I moved to the central coast to work for CAL Poly doing campus catering and my very bright son was accepted and went to school there, too,” Elizabeth recalls fondly.
Life was good and Elizabeth continued working at Cal Poly until about a year after Davy’s graduation, when unthinkable loss made working there an impossibility. “About a year after his graduation, Davy died in an accident and my life came to a complete halt. I couldn’t be on campus anymore as it reminded me of him, so I left. I got divorced and during that time, my mom passed away too and I had the toughest few years of my life. As a result of all of this, I decided to start the David Nathan Blanco Foundation so I could raise money for an endowment at Cal Poly.”
At this point, Elizabeth went through Davy’s childhood artwork and found a character he created and loved that she knew could be used to inspire many young hearts. Davy called him “Superclown” and she was going to do this work in his honor. “At that time, I drove from L.A. to Minnesota on my own and joined my cousin to start the Superclown Children’s Art Gallery in Afton, Minnesota.” They started the gallery in Afton, but wished to reach a more diverse group of children, so they moved the gallery to St. Paul. “In St. Paul, we did projects with children on Native American Reservations and through non-profits. Then, we hosted gallery shows featuring their artwork.”
From a profound tragedy, Elizabeth launched the first art gallery for kids in Minnesota and went further to open a second one in California, but it became too expensive to endure. “I was spending my own money, though I was thrifty about getting art supplies.” Though she helped children find artistic flair for years, funds to keep the gallery open without a grant writer was not coming in, so she bought the building using money from the sale of her house. Then she contacted her brother, who was also at a professional impasse. “Roger and I put our heads together and decided to buy a business.”
Though the siblings departed from their first family business to explore their own personal paths, they reunited in 2011 through triumph and tragedy to buy an underperforming Minuteman Press franchise. “We took a liking to the proven system of Minuteman Press and Roger lived in the area.” All their new business needed was what they had in abundance. They contribute to others’ betterment with expertise and real care. Their rich life experience and training from Minuteman Press International made them experts able to isolate and execute great things from simple concepts. But really, the magic ingredients were hard work and a relentless determination to turn the business into winner, virtues that are a credit to the franchise owners themselves. “When we wish to retire, we will sell a strong franchise with money in our pockets,” Elizabeth assures.
They got to work helping people carve out their ideal message to just the right audience and with a move to a more ideal, bigger location with help from Regional Vice President, Dan Byers, they invigorated their business. “Dan Byers was instrumental in helping us find just the right space for our goals. It was not only more convenient, it was a psychological boost as we marketed harder after that and sales went way up. We were growing every year, but Dan finding that spot was followed by stronger growth every year,” Elizabeth notes.
“In my franchise, I get to find creative ways to promote people’s businesses and messages. I truly enjoy our clients. Pleasing people and helping them do better ‘out there’ with my work is what I want to do.” – Elizabeth Blanco, Co-Owner, Minuteman Press, Carson, CA
For Roger, in many respects, the transition from the workforce to owner of a digital print, design and marketing franchise was smooth. He explains, “I spent 30 years in the media business, so I had to deal with printers and handle design, advertising and sales. It gave me confidence to buy a printing franchise.” He is also thankful for the support from his franchisor as he takes full advantage of vendor partnerships to keep his center firmly positioned at the forefront of technology. “We are having an open house for our new Versant from Xerox and people will simply have to see it to believe it when it comes to the excellent quality we can produce. Technology in the printing industry is getting better and better,” he adds.
Their client, Clarence C. Monteclaro, M.D and his non-profit, The MCCFM Foundation merged with Minuteman Press in Carson to nurture children’s health and creativity. Through his Teach Me subsidiary the triumphant return of Elizabeth’s beloved character, “Superclown” is bringing joy and education to children.
“Clarence was working with us already when I happened to look at a stunning brochure we produced for him and noticed this really good idea he was putting to practice. The Teach Me Foundation makes sure children have a chance to be enthusiastic about eating fruits and vegetables and helps them understand how everything grows in the earth before it gets to their plates,” according to Elizabeth.
The two benevolent leaders talked and what was a strong partnership between client and marketing services provider became far greater. “I told Clarence about my character, Superclown, and my history working with children in art. He fell in love with it and asked me to work with the Teach Me Foundation, so we united and now I am working with kids in art again, doing art projects and our theme is veggies and fruit.”
In 2017, the MCCFM Foundation received a grant and Clarence approached Minuteman Press for help producing a hanging, rotating project for the area’s elementary schools. Elizabeth’s talents for finding just the right thing kicked into high gear, “I knew it would have to be folded to go to an event or from school to school, so I got the idea to make a quilt, four of them representing each season and each quilt was given a fruit or vegetable grown during that season as a theme. Each school was given a particular season as their own, so I put together packages for the children with pictures of their assigned veggie or fruit from the appropriate season. I had all the supplies they needed and I cut the fabric into appropriate squares and provided directions. Then, I took pages from a children’s coloring book about seasonal fruits and veggies and after the kids colored them, we scanned the various images on our latest digital equipment. Then, I had my designer line them up so each school had their own colored squares printed on the fabric. Each child in each school is part of their very own quilt.”
Clarence Monteclaro, MD, MBA, is thankful he had a longstanding relationship with Minuteman Press in Carson to support the growth of his non-profit, The Teach Me Foundation. In his words, “Elizabeth and Roger from Minuteman Press in Carson are amazing! They have reliably served and professionally supported my nonprofit community garden business for over 5 years. We could not have asked for a more personable partner for all of the important work we wish to accomplish.”
“The belief that the world can be made a better place by human effort” is meliorism. Meliorism is one way Minuteman Press owners can say, ‘We Are The Modern Printing Industry” and projects such as these are a clear illustration. Elizabeth also saved the foundation money in the process. “I am able to cut costs because of the relationships I have developed within the industry. This is the highest quality fabric, used for big banners. Also, I hand-quilted each child’s creation into the finished pieces myself.”
The good work from the partnership between Minuteman Press and MCCFM is clear in both the children’s lives and the quilts they created… and more such collaborations are to come.
Elizabeth explains, “This year, we are working with autistic children and we will be hosting a spring egg hunt in April and we will hide 1500 eggs in the giant garden Clarence maintains at one of our elementary schools. We will have them hunt in that garden and I will be hosting an art class for them, too. They will draw their own idea of what a superhero looks like and I will bring a huge poster board representation of Superclown for inspiration.”
Minuteman Press International will continue as an ally through the entire tenure of its franchise owners and for Elizabeth and Roger that means they are free to continue giving of themselves and being the boss of their own time and energy. “I bought a Minuteman Press franchise so I could work out a schedule with my brother that allows me to keep working with people like Clarence and with children in art. I am doing many things with my life and I am getting the Minuteman Press name out there as I do it and this is all good.”