When fax machines and copiers without full-color capabilities represented print technology, Mike Burns started out his career in a field he now commands with expert authority. He worked for a premier full-color printer at the time, skilled in color separation and doing the work of traditional print production. His nature is to rise to the top of his game, so he bought and ran a pre-press business and made success from working with film, old-school style. Today and since 2007, he has merged old-school with new as owner of Minuteman Press in Williamsville, NY and while some veteran printers resist change, Mike is welcoming and wise to the needs of his clients. “If I still had to do what I needed to do thirty years ago, I wouldn’t want to do it. I totally embrace what our brand is doing today in digital printing. It gives Minuteman Press the chance to go toe-to-toe with bigger printers and make them more competitive, too.”
He’s determined and makes decisions that are calm and measured, so when he went out and bought the equipment needed to start his pre-press business in 1980, he remained professionally agile when he got bought out in 1998. “It was a great business and I did well, but the people I sold my business to filed bankruptcy and a lot of my retirement depended upon them staying open. I had to reinvent myself.”
Mike used to pass Minuteman Press in Williamsville all the time, so he called the corporate office and from there, Regional Vice President at the time, Doug Harlan, connected with him. “Doug is a very savvy guy, as much as Jim Galasso is now. Each of them ‘grew up’ in the business like I did and I could see that Minuteman Press International was a very positive company with a positive message ‘Take care of your customers.’ This was the only location I needed to see, but Doug took me to tour others and offered to take me to visit the location in Pittsburgh. I took my time, was impressed with the people I met and what I saw. I could not help but notice that the existing franchise I wanted to buy had national customers, buying regionally. I have kept those customers and continue to help them grow.”
The timing was perfect for Mike to come in with all of his relevant knowledge and buy a printing business from a retiring entrepreneur that had built a loyal customer base. “Doug Harlan told me that twenty cold calls equate to ten estimates which equate to two customers. I didn’t believe it, but I enjoy meeting people and selling so I followed his advice and tracked it for a while. It wasn’t precise but cold calling and taking care of references is how you gain customers and that is what we still do.”
Customer service means no waiting and the ability to answer questions once you make contact with staff at Mike’s digital print, design and marketing center. Courtesy and professionalism rule the days. He says, “We maintain friendships due to the type of work we do, but I am a believer that you can maintain strong relationships with customers, taking them out to lunch and inviting them to rotary meetings while keeping distance enough to keep it professional. I am old-school in offering that kind of respect and people appreciate it.”
On any given day, Minuteman Press franchise owners are working with new entrepreneurs as they develop a brand identity and marketing strategy. Mike talks about other types of clients that keep them engaged in growth, “A lot of our clients are large corporations with in-house design staff. In those cases, our own designers stay in close contact and speak the same language as their designers, so they have direct lines to each other. It’s very efficient and we take a lot off stress of their teams, then take over for production.”
He loves taking on projects with what he calls “lots of twists and turns”, a benefit of being able to handle just about anything in a profession that he has championed. “Nothing is better than coming through with a top-notch product in terms of design and print. We make our customers happy and it is why we are here,” Mike shares.
Basil Toyota bears a brand well-known enough to count on the best and they choose Minuteman Press in Williamsville to help connect their clients to just the right vehicles
“They are a marketing-driven company and they use every angle, which is where we come in with everything from promotional products to full-color, double-sided, high-end literature for their negotiations tables,” according to Mike. The products from the arrangement between the two vary from daily traffic logs to spiral-bound books that include each customer’s name and help staff with follow-up calls. Carbonless forms for warranties, privacy notices, labels for windows and dashboards, flyers, business cards and direct mail services are all part of the marketing strategy – and it’s working.
“Basil Toyota is a high-volume dealership and they are growing. We have been happy to work with them for the past ten years as they are part of a huge dealership and we do work for all of them. When they have customer appreciation nights, we make sure to print and mail all the invitations,” Mike adds, “And everyone leaves with the information they need and branded gifts, too.”
Sometimes things go wrong. When it does, his clients don’t have to worry. Mike explains, “An example of our service happened just recently with Toyota. There was an issue with a form which is populated in a laser printer. It was not perfectly in register, so we knew what to do. We fixed it and delivered it just the way it needed to be. Our clients do not need to worry.”
Wally Cook speaks on behalf of Basil Toyota when he offers, “Minuteman Press handles everything from specialized items, two and three part forms, business cards, our logs, invoices and more. Their quality is great and Mike personally delivers to us. He has always been that old school guy that does business the right way. He cares about his customers and is always trying to go above and beyond to satisfy them. Mike always delivers on a timely basis and even handles jobs that need expediting (like overnight) and always delivers. We only use Mike at Minuteman Press and I wouldn’t have it any other way.”
He remains level headed, a trait that serves him professionally that he describes with humility. “I guess I am superstitious. I was enthusiastic when I bought my business and I didn’t think I’d be this gratified to stay, so while I don’t want to jinx anything, let’s just say I am happy I bought my Minuteman Press franchise.”
He admits it’s hard to get big emotional reactions from such a calculated thinker as Mike, but still he knows what’s good in his life. “My wife will say she told me to do this instead of playing golf, but with her involved as she keeps us organized and looking our best, I am very glad I made this decision.”
Looking for your trusted business services provider? Find your local Minuteman Press design, marketing and printing franchise at https://www.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.