Kevin and Pam Berg own the Minuteman Press franchise in Panorama City, California. Kevin’s own endurance and great support allow him to compete on the world’s stage as he prepares for the Ironman World Championships to be held in Kona, Hawaii, October 2018.
The endurance athlete is a unique breed. These are people who like to compete in strenuous long-distance sports like marathons, cross country skiing, long-distance cycling and half- and full-distance triathlons.
The spark that ignites an elite endurance athlete to take on long-term challenges is a special characteristic and is often channeled into all aspects of the person’s life. Kevin Berg uses this spark to participate in long-distance triathlons like the famous Ironman triathlon. And along with his wife and partner of over 35 years, Pam Berg, uses it to run a successful Minuteman Press franchise in Panorama City, California.
Elite is a word that describes the Bergs’ award-winning print, design and marketing services center. It is also a word that is used to describe Kevin’s training for the 2018 Ironman World Championships in Kona, Hawaii.
Kevin will be the first to say that neither the business nor the athletic challenges would be possible without the help and support of the people around him including Pam, their employees, their friends and their franchisor. Kevin says: “My business partner and wife, Pam, has been my best friend and soulmate since 1980. We share a common office at our business and have happily shared the responsibilities of our business for 28 years. The partnership between Pam and I, and the partnerships we have with our clients, our employees and with Minuteman Press International is what has helped us be successful.”
Before Minuteman Press in Panorama City began breaking records under new ownership with the Bergs, Kevin specialized in direct mail, broadcast media lead-generation and advertising, while Pam had a career in print purchasing and direct mail management. When it was time to take on entrepreneurship, it was Pam that was to take sole lead until fate put Kevin in the position to re-examine his career as well.
“We were looking for a business that Pam could run. She had a print management and purchasing background prior to Minuteman. We found a “used” Minuteman in 1990 and in the process of taking it over, I got fired from my job and I started the business instead. After 2 months on my own, I told her that if she did not quit her job and come help me out that we were going to lose our house. Once she joined me, we achieved sales of 1 million very quickly after that.”
Today, Kevin and Pam help the brand realize its motto, “We Are the Modern Printing Industry” by continuing to be a top tier Minuteman Press franchise with sales of about $2.8 million and 12 full-time employees working out of 8,000 square feet in Panorama City, CA (northwest of downtown Los Angeles). Kevin shares, “We have been Minuteman Press International President’s Club owners since its inception and have received all the available local and regional awards.”
Fuel to compete in the Ironman triathlon may start with Kevin himself, but it continues only with the support of Pam. “In Ironman terms, Pam is affectionately referred to as my Sherpa. It’s a term many Ironman athletes use to describe their partners who follow and support us. Sherpas haul around our gear and our crap, run and fetch stuff we forget, get up with us at 3:00am on race day, put up with our overly-tired driven anxiety attacks, and stand around for 10-17 hours with the chance of seeing us run or ride by only a few times during the long day. Truth-be-told, long distance triathlons can be pretty boring for the spectators!”
He does not profess to be an “ace” in any particular sport, but his humor and skill are readily apparent when he reflects on the subject. “I guess I have been athletic all my life, but never outstanding in anything. I was a competitive skier and motocross rider when I was very young. I did not have time to do much except work for the first 10 years of our Minuteman business, then spent 15 years trying to golf. I gave up golf after going to multiple Minuteman Presidents Club outings and I realized that I would never be as good as Bobby Titus (Minuteman Press International President and CEO). I mean, what’s the point, right?”
How did Kevin find himself preparing for what may be the world’s most well-known triathlon? To answer, Kevin offers a mix of substance and wit, “A friend got me into riding bicycles in 2005, then suggested we try doing a triathlon together in 2006. Since I was heading into midlife crisis mode then, it seemed like a good idea. Triathlon was a good next step for someone like me who is basically ADD and has a hard time focusing on one thing for very long. With this sport I get to divide my attention into lots of things! I got hooked after my first one, and immediately wanted to go faster and farther. I did my first full Ironman in 2010, and I have done seven full-distance and over 20 half-distance Ironman races and dozens of shorter events since then.”
A triathlon is a multiple-stage competition involving swimming, cycling, and running. Ironman is a brand name and license owned by the World Triathlon Corporation (WTC) for its full distance and half-distance triathlons. WTC is by far the largest sponsor and organizer of triathlon events in the world, and the brand name of Ironman for triathlon. It is a continuous race all done in one day. A full distance Ironman can take from 8 – 17 hours to complete.
Triathletes compete for fastest overall course completion time and compete against others in their age groups. There are different distances, ranging from a sprint distance that is typically a 300-500 yard swim, a 10-12 mile bike, and a 3 mile run up to a full-distance event which is a 2.1 mile swim, 112 mile bike and a marathon or 26.2 mile run. A full Ironman is considered one of the most difficult one-day events in sports.
The goal of many competitive triathletes is to qualify for the Ironman World Championships held in Kona, Hawaii, every October. Only the very best triathletes worldwide make it to Kona. It is extremely difficult to qualify, and you have to be top in your age group at another qualifying event. Kevin says, “I qualified by finishing 1st in my age group at the Florida Ironman in November 2017. At the end of 2017 I was ranked 4th in the U.S. and 11th in the world in my age group of 60-64. By winning, I qualified for and will compete in the World Championships in October of this year”.
Speaking from the point of experience as he puts his fall competition preparation at full-throttle, Kevin notes the distinction between a typical triathlon and the Ironman. “All triathlons are physically demanding. But a full distance Ironman is on a whole other scale in terms of physical, and as importantly, mental demands. Just the thought of swimming, biking and running for as hard as you can for 140.6 miles in one day and knowing it will take 10 to 17 hours to complete is a mental challenge that I think is un-matched in sport. Maintaining a positive attitude during the race can be very challenging. You can find your mind in some very dark places when you are out there on the course. There is not an ironman athlete in the world who has not said to themselves, ‘Why the hell am I doing this!’ during a race.”
Training for this endeavor is a feat that makes it evident why Kevin is so grateful for Pam’s support. Ironman preparation demands the sort of energy output that he simply could not spare without her. “Depending upon the time of year and race distance, I typically train from 10 to 18 hours per week. That involves 3 swim sessions of 30 minutes to 1.5 hours, 3 bike sessions of 1 to 6 hours, 3 run sessions of 30 minutes to 2.5 hours and 1 or 2 strength sessions. It is basically a part-time job. I spend about 10 months preparing for a race, and Pam and my employees are very supportive and help to shoulder the responsibilities at work.”
“Competing in a triathlon is really about competing with yourself. It can be a very solitary sport, and you rarely compete side-by-side with anyone else,” says Kevin. Much like becoming your own boss, a role the Berg’s have championed, triathlon is something Kevin describes as an accomplishment in which you are “…pushing yourself to do better all the time”. He adds, “You have to be disciplined, because no one is there to get you up at 4:00am to go swimming or forcing you to run the extra mile as hard as you can.”
It’s that spark within that ignites Minuteman Press owners and athletes like Kevin to succeed, and he expresses appreciation for that which allows him to get stronger and never stop short of the finish line.
Kevin concludes, “That’s why crossing the finish line at any distance of triathlon is so rewarding. The sense of accomplishment at overcoming physical and mental challenges is amazing. And crossing the finish line at an Ironman is like nothing you will ever experience.”