A former corporate trainer rolled the dice and won as an entrepreneur with her idea for a board game that is brought to life with design and print from Minuteman Press.
Although Robert “Max” Maxwell has been at the helm of Minuteman Press in Glen Allen, VA for 14 years, he has been engaged in the printing industry on multiple levels since 1963. He first got ink on his hands on his 16th birthday, in fact, when he began as an apprentice at the West Hartford News – a choice he made as part of a “work experience” program in high school. The Rochester Institute of Technology received him with open arms and he graduated with a degree in printing that landed him his first of many high-profile jobs, starting as a quality manager at Parade Magazine.
“I commuted every day from Philadelphia to New York as a 26 year old and progressed from that position to plant manager in North Carolina for Merideth Berta for 15 years (a company backed by the printing giant, RR Donnelly).” His first employees as a manager for that company were sent to training on Long Island, not far from the headquarters of Minuteman Press International, the world’s number-one rated digital print, design and marketing franchisor. He did not know at the time that his accumulating technical, leadership and service experience in the days before digital printing would eventually mean that buying a printing franchise of his own made perfect sense.
During his career, he met the impeccable demands of a huge range of world-renowned clients including Macy’s, Avon, Sears, Playboy, Ethan Allen and 17 Magazine. “In those days, before MAC and Quark, I was among the first to have access to electronic page makeup on the Hell System, top technology at the time. Every detail needed to be perfect, of course.”
Every detail needs to be perfect when a project matters and every project matters to the person who must get it done, usually to promote a brand or a message. So when a stint as a professional magician did not prove to pay well (even if his intentions to spread drug awareness through his magic act were noble), Max returned to the passion of his youth and the industry in which he built a respected and profitable career, printing.
His colorful journey as a print professional reached a critical juncture when he was a customer service manager for Cadmus Journal Services and they downsized, laying him off. Always driven and with an impressive resume, he was hired by another company, but had to commute 150 miles per day and that, needless to say, was not an appealing way live for a man who valued his time and wished to maximize his joy and satisfaction in business and at home. “I was about 50 years old at the time and noticed that companies hire you to pick your brains, then they want to move you and your hefty salary out. I did not want to move anymore with my kids in high school and I really wanted to start my own business.”
“At that point, I had traveled the world and had successful dealings with print customers in many places. So, I did my due diligence and decided that Minuteman Press International was the best franchise opportunity, by far, beating out all the competition in the business. Others were more quick print or copy shops, not real printing,” Max states with authority.
In 2009, after years as a corporate trainer, Kay Taylor founded Winning the Training Game, bringing the most important elements of her craft into a “fresh, innovative training tool”. That tool needed to be designed and printed, so she contacted Max at Minuteman Press…
Assembling a diverse group of experienced professionals with training a common strength meant that Kay could help a lot more people in her new venture, President of her own company. Fate would have it that she met Robert Maxwell years before as he performed magic for kids at their shared church congregation. When her business concept was ready to emerge, she reached out to him for just the right help bringing it into reality. Max says, “Kay, like me, was another victim of company mergers and downsizing, so she went into business by inventing a game, not unlike Trivial Pursuit, but with more purpose and a MUCH bigger board and game pieces. It is an exciting business and she is in demand.”
Here are 3 specific ways Minuteman Press helps Winning the Training Game come to life with design and print:
- Her board is 4 x 5 and up to 8 people can play at a time. They are printed on a specific vinyl so they can be folded into the branded boxes and shipped all over the country – we also helped with the packaging concept.
- We make 32 cards in each of 5 or 6 categories and they are bigger than standard – 5 x 7. We also produce two more elements, 45 action and team challenge cards.
- We imprint different category designations onto special stickers for the game chips.
Max and his Minuteman Press team have been with Winning the Training Game since the beginning, producing all the games – which now has many versions:
When Max referred to “real printing”, he referred to more than running the press. The craftsmanship and design knowledge needed create an in-demand training tool in the form of a traditional board game, from “scratch” requires a healthy partnership with the intelligent entrepreneur. It also requires a personal investment in the creation of the product all the way through its development.
That is the role of the modern printing industry Minuteman Press International is leading with franchise owners like Max, who explains: “We have done 20 versions of this game since we started in 2010. When we first started, Kay sat in my kitchen and we went over the entire game strategy. It was a gathering that included my wife, Lois and Kay’s husband, Jim, working together on refining the game. Kay’s experience was based in the food distribution industry, so diverse insight was needed to help sell the idea to companies in other industries. As a result, we have done many different versions touching on topics like health insurance, selling, finance, service, project management, technical competence and even entrepreneurial wellness.”
Winning the Training Game is so effective and growing in demand enough that Minuteman Press is called upon to customize versions for specific companies and just fulfilled a large request for 16 various games ordered by a school district. “We even designed and produced a customized board for, as Kay requested, an Air Force version to provide to that branch of the military,” – Robert “Max” Maxwell owner Minuteman Press, Glen Allen, VA
Kay Taylor, Founder of Winning the Training Game, is so pleased and thankful for the partnership with Minuteman Press that six years later, she recalls the impact Max, Lois and his staff have provided towards growth: “Max has helped me with the development of my business since its inception with things every business needs like business cards and letterhead, up to the details that led to the production of our first of what is now a great variety of training games. We are working on a game right now in which Lois Maxwell helped us write questions as she is in the risk management arena and she offered the same guidance for our project management game. Max and Lois are a power couple.”
Half-hearted businesses have made the phrase “personalized customer service” a cliché, but whole-hearted service is what Minuteman Press franchise owners like Max and Lois provide and Kay has no shortage of praise for their friendship and hard work. She adds, “One of the most outstanding things Max did for me occurred when he delivered my custom-printed game boards to my house during a snow storm. You would think that is a tale from a book, but he really did that for me. Also, two weeks ago, I had needed specific game cards for a conference and he met me at his center on a Sunday to print the cards I needed the next morning at 6am. He continues to help find the right product at the right price. We just fulfilled a huge order from a school district – the largest order we have had so far – and Max continues to handle the design and production of our games.”
As people discover the effective nature of blending fun with education, Winning the Training Game continues to get bigger; and as Minuteman Press is the modern printing industry, that means traditional print comes together with digital marketing to support them. Kay explains, “We are setting up a brand new website and Tracy, one of the artists at Max’s center came in recently to help me produce appropriate icons for each version of my game.”
Entrepreneurs like Kay produce winning products, to borrow a word from her concept. With that success comes other printers vying for her business, but her loyalty to Minuteman Press has practical and personal roots…and it is strong.
She assures, “As my company has gotten bigger, many printers have tried to get my business, but I have no reason to look anywhere else because even in emergencies, Max comes through for me. Minuteman Press in Glen Allen is there for me every time and does the best job.”