With the help of James Beckwith and Minuteman Press in Swindon, England, the United Kingdom’s largest water supply and waste water treatment utility helps keep things flowing smoothly for the greater good of their residents.
James Beckwith and his team at Minuteman Press just celebrated 4 years since they first opened their doors in Swindon and the clients that have had the good fortune to entrust them with high-priority projects celebrate their continued presence. James always puts their essential needs first, whether it be fine print needed for a milestone moment in life or a comprehensive marketing campaign designed to energize their brands and capture the attention of exactly the right audience, every time. When people are put first in this way, putting meaning to the term “customer-centric” service, they are grateful and they submit their loyalty for the long-term. Combine that authenticity with brilliant finished products and it’s clear to see Minuteman Press IS the modern printing industry and James is one of nearly 1000 franchise owners leading it.
“Printing in our area is very competitive. There are 4 or 5 major players and countless graphics houses and independents as well as the internet. Our approach is to produce very high quality products with a very fast turnaround time and we are always customer-focused,” notes James.
It is hard to compete with a digital print, design and marketing services centre that brings heart and technical ability together so well. As he says, “I spent over 15 years in the Enterprise IT industry as the Technical Consultant on the Sales Team. We would sometimes spend 18 – 24 months working on multi-million £/$ deals. The deal would be signed on Friday, big celebrations over the weekend and back to work on Monday morning. Probably the most gratifying aspect of running a Minuteman Press is seeing the look on a customer’s face when you hand them their printing and it far exceeds what they were expecting. We get this response from business cards to wedding invitations.
When people are grateful for their local Minuteman Press, thanks comes forth in a variety of ways and no one is forgotten when a customer is made truly happy, according to James Beckwith:
“We have had family members come to tears in our office when we hand them their Orders of Service for a loved one who has passed. Hannah even received flowers from a couple for whom she designed wedding stationery. Mark should weigh 300 lbs for all the boxes of chocolates he has received. Even Tegen, our golden retriever shop mascot, has received dog biscuits as a thank you!”
“Everything we do is personalised to the customer we are working with. Printing 10 birthday party invites for your 6-year-old is just as important to us (and you) as the 100,000-run flyer order for a local estate agent.” –James Beckwith
Speaking of technical ability, James boasts a staff with members that bring both years of experience as well as a hunger to keep learning more. He also employs students during the summer who wish to get a taste for the printing industry from the best in the business. He reflects on his staff, “We started off with myself, Sarah (Beckwith) and our Chief Designer and Production Manager, Mark Lapping. Mark came to us with over 15 years design experience and has an uncanny ability to identify with the customer and uniquely capture the spirit of what they are aiming to express. We have recently brought on Hannah Shaw as an apprentice working on a Digital Marketing Qualification, but wanting to learn and understand print design and production. At various times in the summer months we have work experience people from the local schools coming to get an insight into the print design field.”
Every day, Thames Water Utilities Ltd, serves 15 million customers across London and the Thames Valley while Minuteman Press in Swindon provides all manner of print needed to keep things flowing smoothly.
As he is always out in his community, networking and educating people about the incredible range of products and services Minuteman Press provides, James was certain to include the main office of Thames Water Utilities. He was able to have several conversations with different departments, but it wasn’t until the utility company, that so many people depended upon, had a print emergency that he was able to demonstrate his superior service. According to James, “We didn’t fully engage with them until one day we received a call saying their large format printer had broken down and would we be able to print some project plan posters and deliver them in the next 2 hours. I said, absolutely and my next thought was I need to give them a reason NOT to fix that printer.”
And, indeed, giving the utility giant absolutely no need to fix that printer is what James and his team proceeded to do through taking on more work over time and proving exactly why Minuteman Press remains the number-one rated digital print, design and marketing franchise. “That was over 2 years ago, we then began to receive more job requests, the monthly newsletter, flyers, labels, we even did customer bunting for a party they were having,” he shares.
“Splash Trumps cards and stickers” are great printed tools Thames Water uses to teach students about saving water
As sweeping change continues to take place in the utility industry, Thames Water is keeping personnel fully prepared by carrying out a lot of additional training. The printed collateral needed for the training is something welcomed by Minuteman Press in Swindon and they have been able to accommodate requests that are made with no time to spare. As James describes, “This need for training materials is great for us, but many times the training is time critical and we must be able to turn around jobs in almost no time at all.
To rally the staff when timelines are tight, humour is one-way James helps his team remain focused and light-hearted, “When things get a little crazy in the shop, my go to line is ‘We sell printing, we don’t sell lifesaving heart equipment!’ This usually will bring out a smile and a ‘Yeah, OK, got you boss.'”
It seems Minuteman Press in Swindon has completed every imaginable type of job for the utility millions of residents count upon, ranging from the creative to practical:
- Project Timelines (the largest being over 5 meters long!)
- …and even a Perspex collection box for conference attendees to ‘vote’ on how they liked the training.
Sometimes, “quality” and “quantity” are pitted against one another, but in James Beckwith’s Minuteman Press franchise, the two are compatible and he tends to both on behalf of Thames Water. “The main jobs we do for them are training booklets and posters for specific events. The largest volume job we do for them are the project plan prints which we can get orders 3 – 4 times a week with that afternoon or next morning turnaround time required,” he adds.
Thames Water Utilities supports WaterAid’s vision of a world where everyone, everywhere has access to safe water and sanitation and since 1981, has donated over £35million thanks to the help and generosity of employees and customers
A true partnership based on trust, the latest equipment and the ability to manage complexities are not to be found in just any print shop and certainly not online. James details a recent challenge that was met with precision, “The most recent job we did for them was for 900 training manuals with very specific graphic requirements. The pages needed to line up perfectly. We recently installed our second digital press, a Xerox Versant 80 and it printed each booklet perfectly.”
It is not unusual for the most successful Minuteman Press franchise owners to work in cooperation with one another for the common good of clients in need. When the giant utilities’ orders started to spread out beyond the U.K., James reached out to a fellow franchisee in South Africa for assistance. He says, “We also had to supply over 100 posters of varying sizes with the order. Originally, we were to ship parts of the order to 2 locations in the UK, part to South Africa and part to India! And it all had to be received in less than a week! For the South Africa job, I contacted a Minuteman Press locally as a back-up if the courier couldn’t deliver in time for them.”
He continues, “Working closely with the team at Thames Water we decided the best approach was to get everything to them locally and they used their distribution channels to get the training material to each site. We completed and delivered the job more than 48 hours ahead of their deadline!”
Thames Water Utilities makes certain customers can make informed decisions and they do so with the direct help of Minuteman Press
The Spring Programme is one of many initiatives in which Minuteman Press in Swindon supports Thames Water Utilities with printed essentials. In this case, the effort is all about helping the company’s customers as they make informed choices about which water company they will use. Another aspect of the Spring Programme involves updating their aging billing platforms to something more contemporary and efficient.
Val Bell is the Spring Programme Resource Manager and she has absolutely no hesitation when it comes to praising the good work of James and his staff, giving them status as the standard by which the printing industry itself should be judged. She says, “We on the Spring Programme have been using Minuteman Press for well over a year now and all I can say it that the service they provide should be provided as an example to other companies doing what they do! They always manage expectations, i.e. they advise of delivery times and are very accommodating. If there are any issues with the outcome of the quality they always advise & try to amend to provide the best they can.”
Representing just one of the departments and projects that James continues to serve, Val acknowledges the stress-relieving consistency resulting from Thames Water Utilities’ partnership with Minuteman Press. She puts emphasis where it counts, adding, “They are always challenged with some of the print requests, but so far I can only say the quality has always been great!”
For more information on Minuteman Press graphic design, marketing, printing, and promotional products and services, visit www.minutemanpress.com
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