Pat Kittle and his team at Minuteman Press provide digital print, design and marketing to Camp Calumet as they continue their tradition to “support and strengthen the individuals and congregations of New England.”
Childhood impressions can be agents of inspiration in adulthood. “I remember the smell of Reflex Blue ink as a child,” says Pat Kittle, owner of Minuteman Press in North Conway, NH. His father was a business owner, too, running a company that printed business forms, and Pat frequently visited him at the print shop. After studying engineering, Pat worked in the paper industry for twenty years at mills in the Pacific Northwest, the Midwest, and finally in northern New Hampshire. Consolidation in the paper industry made the future uncertain. “I liked what I did for a living, but I saw the proverbial handwriting on the wall; if I stayed in the paper industry, I was going to have to move a lot more. My wife, kids and I wanted to stay in New Hampshire, so I looked for something new. I saw this printing business for sale and since I spent a lot of time in printing facilities tending to customers during my career, it seemed like a good opportunity.”
“Unlike the typical new owner, I already knew a lot about printing before I joined the Minuteman Press franchise system. What I didn’t know were the intricacies of running a small business, and that is where training and support from my franchisor could be of assistance,” according to Pat. So, while most new entrepreneurs head to Minuteman Press International World Headquarters unable to tell you all the different paper weights and finishes, such knowledge was second nature to Pat. He focused his study on business management, marketing, and system operations while at Minuteman school in New York. He returned to North Conway with a renewed energy that the digital print, design and marketing center sorely needed.
The previous owner had become complacent over time and sales had stagnated for the previous several years. “My predecessor was semi-retired and not putting effort into growth. At the time, there were four other printers in close proximity to me; one went out of business, and over several years I bought out the other three, consolidating their sales into our location. In 2015 I purchased a printer in nearby Denmark, ME and converted it to a Minuteman Press, and six months later bought the book of business from another Maine printer and rolled it into the Denmark location. My Regional Vice President, Ron Rubin, was instrumental in helping me make these acquisitions.”
“My goal is to have every customer call me first when they need something; even if we don’t supply the item or service, we work hard to help them find a solution. We think that makes us tremendously valuable as a supplier and resource to them.” – Pat Kittle, owner, Minuteman Press, North Conway, NH
It is a said that “the customer is always right”. Pat and his staff live by this mantra, but try to take it to the next level as well. “While we are happy to print exactly what our customers specify, I encourage my staff to engage with our customers on a deeper level, to discover their goals for a particular project. This information helps us complete their project more cost-effectively and with improved end results. These consultations help build our client relationships because we show them we understand their business and objectives and care about their success. We recognize they are the experts in their field, and prove we are experts in ours, able to help them accomplish anything.”
Pat has been fortunate to work with a dedicated and loyal staff comprised of long-term Minuteman Press employees, building careers doing what they love. “My pressman, Leo, has been here since the print shop first opened in 1983; Greg, a bindery operator, has worked for Minuteman for 25 years; and the first person I hired 15 years ago is still here. We have managed to find good people who like the printing industry, and we treat them well so that they stay for a long time. We have intentionally brought “corporate-style” benefits to the business, providing health care, retirement plans, and profit sharing to keep everyone engaged and happy.”
Camp Calumet Has a Friend and Faithful Partner with Minuteman Press in North Conway
Camp Calumet Lutheran Camp strives to reach out to people from all walks of life. Its mission is to gather people together in a safe and secure environment where they can think about their spiritual connection, laugh with each other, grow in friendship, and dig deep into their personal journey.
When Pat first bought his center, the camp was printing with one of his main competitors. Pat got to know many of the Calumet staff through attendance at his Church, and eventually they started requesting quotes and sending in some small jobs. The partnership with Camp Calumet became full-fledged as Pat’s Minuteman Press empire expanded to include the very printer that was once his competitor. “I am not a high-pressure salesman and people can sense that. I truly want to help businesses and non-profits. In this case, it worked out over time as they are a large client and we do a wide-range of work for them today.”
With a year-round offering of events and opportunities at Camp Calumet, Pat and his team at Minuteman Press in North Conway are busy fulfilling many different types of print and promotional needs. He explains, “They have always done a lot of mailings, and their previous printer did not offer mailing services. The fact that we could mail for them played a large role in getting them to switch their business to us. I estimate we mail over 100,000 pieces for them each year, but of course there are many other things we produce for them as well. The camp has a store that offers a variety of logo’d promotional products, which we supply. Every year we provide a new “thing” especially for Camp Calumet. In the past we have imprinted their logo on bandanas, sunglasses, toothbrushes, Frisbees and plastic stadium cups. Within a month, we will help them pick something entirely new for the upcoming season.”
As meaningful results bring about wonderful memories for Camp Calumet, so does gratitude for Minuteman Press…
Knute Ogren is the Director of Development and Communications for Camp Calumet. He acknowledges that they are a “non-standard” client in that they are cautious with every dollar, yet need top quality for every item that bears the camp name. “We are so thrifty and Pat is so very good at dealing with us as we do not spend money we do not have to spend. Pat and his staff, every one of them, really care about us. They know we are happy to spend money when we have to, but respect that we hate to spend when it is not really needed.”
Everyone who comes his way for help building a business or promoting a brand is consistently thankful for the trust they placed in Pat Kittle and Minuteman Press. “We design things in-house and Pat’s staff must look at it and realize they can do a lot better, but they do not shame us for our efforts. In fact, they are great at answering my questions, giving me direction and keeping me up to date on trends in the marketing industry. I appreciate this knowledge. For instance, instead of simply mailing postcards when we ask, they educate us about the latest postal regulations. They provide a way to help us find balance between what we are going for and what we need to do to get the most bang for our buck.”
When trust, respect and results are held sacred, clients such as Knute can freely say, “I trust that Pat cares about us and will not sell us what we do not need. We get what we ask for and often, we get it done better than initially requested because he and his staff use their expertise to our advantage. Rarely do I ask for something at the last minute, but when I do Minuteman Press comes through every time and I am thankful for that.”