Second generation Minuteman Press printing franchise owners continue to grow the family business

March 12, 2019
A father passes his business legacy to his daughter and her husband; their community of Loves Park, Illinois remains loyal and enthusiastic for more A father passes his business legacy to his daughter and her husband; their community of Loves Park, Illinois remains loyal and enthusiastic for more

Traci Eppes has been guiding customers to their best solutions in the printing industry since she began working in sales for her father in 1995. He opened the Minuteman Press design, marketing, and printing franchise in Loves Park, Illinois in 1987 and enjoyed a respectable career while his daughter became a most valuable asset within the business. Today, Traci continues to grow the family business and she couldn’t do it without her husband Jon who is instrumental in their continued growth.

In fact, Traci has developed bonds with clients that deepened after each successful project and the family venture settled in as the number one place to go for visual branding, printing, and business promotion. “We had so many loyal customers that by the time my father retired I knew at that point that I would continue with sales. My husband Jon worked for a Fortune 500 company and he would come in and strengthen the operation.” She was right and today, Traci and Jon Eppes join Minuteman Press franchise owners worldwide who can say, We Are The Modern Printing Industry™. Above all else, to Traci, they remain a local, family-owned business that has become a favorite marketing services provider for the local community.

Traci and Jon formally purchased Minuteman Press in Loves Park in 2007. Traci has been continuing to absorb the latest knowledge and educate her clients as they build businesses together. “Jon and I were discussing how exciting it is when we see the results of our work with customers. It is important to us to have great knowledge of our industry so we can educate them, especially with regards to direct mail. We are not only designing and printing the perfect piece after consultation, we also know ways to save money on postage. For instance, if they bring in something that they want folded a particular way, we may show them how to fold it in a way that will decrease postage costs.”

Taking care of direct mail from start to finish is one of Traci’s specialties. “Seeing the success our clients have with the mailings they entrust to us is especially satisfying for me as I am dealing with the majority of mail projects.” As they are known to handle not only designing and printing direct mail products, but also navigating postage and delivery no matter how great the quantity, Minuteman Press in Loves Park has attracted new clients with big ambitions. “In January 2018, we researched and negotiated our center into the position of printing for Winnebago County and surrounding areas during election time, with both major political parties coming our way for help.”

Traci and Jon are focused on continuing to expand to serve their community and they also currently own a second Minuteman Press franchise location in Elgin as well. One of the reasons they have been so successful is the forward-thinking ways this second-generation franchise owner developed her venture from its inspired start. “We dramatically added products and services and streamlined production, bringing a lot of production in-house to our Loves Park location. We can handle pretty much every kind of large format project and a wide range of signage; and prior to purchasing that equipment, we brought in our own complete mailing service which we now handle 100%. In November 2018, we purchased a new machine, a flatbed printer named Vanguard.”

During the stress and hectic pace of election season, the two primary political parties and multiple county elections (happening on the same day) were relieved to partner with Traci and staff at Minuteman Press. “I never imagined working this closely with political parties, but it was an intense eight-week experience. One thing it revealed is how amazing it is that candidates and people representing both sides were kind, nice and the opposite of how politicians are categorized sometimes. It was pleasant to have them come in to see us for help.”

“There was one critical time during election season when we did separate mailings for opposing parties, one 13,000 and the other 15,000 pieces printed, post-marked and delivered on the same day.” – Traci Eppes

As workflow is continual for this crew, Traci and Jon schedule projects based on deadlines. She says, “It is automatic for us to say that we schedule projects based on YOUR deadlines and we choose not to charge rush fees. We will make it happen as long as it is realistic. When push comes to shove, we put in the extra time and effort.”

Doug Harlan, Regional Vice President for Minuteman Press International, enjoys observing how this family business has gained strength from one generation to the next. “Traci and Jon are wonderful owners who took an already successful Minuteman Press franchise (which her father owned previously) and by working hard, giving the customer the best quality job possible and getting it to them when promised, have taken it to the next level … and beyond!” In that he is committed to supporting their efforts, Doug is gratified to be in the supporting role as Traci and Jon keep doing greater things for the community they serve. He says, “They've become a more successful and profitable business by being smart owners, reinvesting back into their business and giving themselves more in-house capabilities.”

Long-term clients like Motor Parts Equipment Company may start with simple print jobs but they stay with Minuteman Press in Loves Park and Elgin for far more and much longer.

MPEC corporate is located in Rockford, IL. They currently own 43 NAPA store locations within Illinois, Iowa, Minnesota and Wisconsin. MPEC provides service and products for both wholesale and retail locations since 1938.

Traci reflects on the development of their strong business relationship, “I have been working with Motor Parts Equipment Company / MPEC for approximately 15 years. Our business relationship began with business cards and envelopes. For the last 15 years, the projects with which we help MPEC have grown along with our ability to service them with multiple items and services. Advances in print technology provide more power to marketing that are a direct benefit to their marketing strategy. She adds, “When our location secured a higher-level digital color machine, we began printing multiple sale flyers and event promotions for their 43 NAPA store locations. Eight years ago, our location began offering in- house large format, die cut adhesive, vehicle magnets and graphics. We now help MPEC with banners, posters, vehicle magnets and more.”

As she intends to bring even more to the campaign for Jeff and MPEC, Traci is feeling excited about the future. “It’s a great scenario to watch a customer increase in their own store location numbers and grow their corporate firm. It also makes Loves Park proud that we can grow along with them and continue to provide full print/marketing solutions for MPEC.”

Jeff Hissong, AVP Sales and Marketing, maintains appreciation for his partnership with Minuteman Press. “Everything has been great over the 15 years we have been using them, initially just for business cards. Over the years, we have asked for more and today, we have gone beyond ordering printing. Their designer creates what we need for our marketing materials. “And when mistakes happen, Jeff doesn’t worry. “They seem to drop what they are doing to take care of us and do a great job. If I ever have an emergency and don’t give them lead time, they do it anyway. One time I needed board books for a meeting within twelve hours and they did more than print it, they put the books together, all on time.”

The future of business is made stronger for driven Minuteman Press franchise owners who know how to take advantage of a proven system. “One of the things I appreciate is the purchasing power I get from the negotiated deals my franchisor has made with national vendors. I am able to go outside of my normal vendor system and I have been doing that more over the past four years or so. Since before our last system-wide convention, World Expo, I’ve been using more Choice Vendors and it’s been great.”

Even greater are the intentions of long-term clients to stick with Minuteman Press, thanks to Traci’s and Jon’s leadership. As Jeff says on behalf of MPEC, “I have no intention of changing providers. If anything, we will rely on Minuteman Press more. We used to use an outside agency for design, but now, Traci and her team are doing everything for us from start to finish. They are outstanding.”

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