Princeton Day School was the trusted educational home for the children of Minuteman Press franchise owners Sherman and Carole Feuer. Today, as long-time partners in business, the institution’s brand is well-tended.
Sherman and Carole Feuer are in their 16th year at the helm of their Minuteman Press franchise that will mark its 40th year in business in 2019. As one of the earliest franchises to open, it became part of the corporation’s deep history of success and never more than in 2002, when new entrepreneurs Sherman and Carole bought the existing printing business. During their tenure, with great care and intelligent planning, its evolution into the contemporary age of printing was assured and today, the couple’s marketing services center in Somerville, NJ is without comparison where it counts, with the community they serve.
Prior to this joint venture, Carole was a dedicated homemaker and Sherman, an expert in the leather tanning business, which he describes as “shrinking in the United States.” He grew tired of “bouncing around the country” in that capacity and did not wish to continue in that industry. “I decided to look for something new and didn’t want the raw material cost that was approaching or over 50% of revenue (as was the case in some other business options out there). When we looked at this print shop in Somerville, not far from our home in Princeton, we investigated further and knew it was the right decision for us.”
Carole recalls the early days and what it was like to assume command of their printing business as novices in an entirely new field. “We knew nothing about printing, but we were enthusiastic and quick learners. There were 10 employees (including us) but we quickly learned that the set-up the previous owners had would not work for us. Everything was too compartmentalized. Graphics was way in the back, so we had no communication with them. There were two pressmen who did not communicate with customer service.” They knew they must revamp daily operations and consider new team members in order to meet their high standards and realize true growth.
She continues, “Through attrition, we’ve come to have the nearly perfect group of hard workers. Rafael Rivera has been with this company since he was 16 years old, 20 years ago. He started as a driver, learned bindery, and eventually learned the intricacies of our very old Hamada. Paul Kunzle has been with us for six years, is amazingly creative at graphics, and since we moved graphics up front so that we could have better communication and a quicker turnaround, he also does customer service. Sean Gieda has been with us two years, and he also does graphics and customer service, but came to us with a background in bindery, and he agreed to learn the intricacies of our 4color Presstek DI, so he as well as the others are invaluable. I do most of the customer service, many of the work orders, and oversee much of the production, while Sherman deals with the business end, major quoting and also works customer service. We’re dedicated to maintaining the highest level of service to our clients.”
Never ones to settle for status quo, Sherman and Carole made certain Minuteman Press in Somerville developed the respect their brand deserves. While they get the job done, they do so in good humor, making it an enviable place to work. Also, the couple created a work culture that is strikingly efficient with professionally nimble team members able to fill all roles, as needed. “We focus on very quick turnaround on our in-house jobs and, generally, meet or exceed our customers’ expectations. We do this because we all are capable of doing many different things in the shop. If Raf is busy on press, Sean will jump in to bindery. Teamwork makes us a well-oiled machine. We focus as a group, we engage with who needs what, and how the job should be set up, communicate to each individual what the expectation is, and what problems might occur. Back up plans are super important because something always goes wrong. Preparation is the key to a great outcome.” In good spirits, she adds, “We are a husband and wife team and there may be a lot of yelling going on during the work day to meet all of our ends, but we rarely talk about work at home and just celebrated 30 years of wedded bliss at the end of May 2018.”
Carole acknowledges another way they invest in the success of their clients and it is by leading the modern printing industry through maintaining mastery of both digital and traditional offset press technology. They educate clients about the continued efficacy of print and how each method is a powerful tool in its own right. “We have also continually invested in the latest output devices and are pleased to say that we still operate offset presses on a daily basis.”
And in this day of “fake news” where digital ads pop up and go, people are not only holding a steadfast preference for print on paper, promotional products and more, they trust it more than ever. On behalf of those educated in true connection, Carole and Sherman are gratified to say, “We still consider printing to be our core business. Those presses run all the time. We get the most joy out of something we’ve personally created as a piece for our customer, and seeing the final product printed well! When our customers smile, we’re happy, whether it’s a printed sheet, or notepads, or pens.”
It is no wonder people are drawn to Minuteman Press in Somerville when they have a message to spread and need help. If technical capability wasn’t enough, it is simply a pleasure to walk in and be received warmly and very obviously with care. Carole explains, “Customer service goes a long way, or we probably wouldn’t be here. Lots of our customers come to us after trying an online vendor, and they come to us in frustration. They just want to get their job done right, and don’t’ want to deal with the impersonal experience. They can’t upload correctly as their files don’t look right. You don’t get any help from an online printer.”
Princeton Day School Partners with Minuteman Press in Somerville
Always promoting their work at the center, when Carole and Sherman’s children attended Princeton Day School (a private Pre-K through 12 school), they made sure to tell the institution about their products and services. “As we became familiar with what we were doing (since we knew nothing!), we made sure the school knew that we were printers. At the time, they had a presswoman on staff. She ran a small 2 color presses. They did send out for big jobs however. One day they wanted to set up a meeting because the presswoman was retiring, and they wanted us to run some envelopes for them.” The prestigious school was impressed and a partnership was born. “After that, we got more and more work (we even took over their equipment) and they are now one of our biggest customers. While most of our jobs come directly from Christine, the school has various needs, and more people are coming to us directly. While we don’t do all their jobs, we do the majority,” Carole adds.
The ability to work as a team in-shop lends to teamwork between the center and client partners and that is vital when it comes to the production of the school’s literary magazine, Cymbals. “One of our great challenges is their magazine. They hire an outside graphic artist to set the job up, with input from us. It is a showcase for them (and us), and they demand super high quality. The books have at least 100 pages featuring literature and visual arts. They are perfect-bound and often have images going across spreads, so everything has to lined up perfectly.” The dedication to perfection is not in vain, as the publication has been decorated in recent years. According to Carole, “Last year’s Cymbals won the first place honor with the American Scholastic Press Association, competing against not just high schools, but universities as well. This year, the cover art will be a wrap-around which they’ve never done.”
Christine Cantera is the Art Director at the Princeton Day School, a place that hosted the young Feuer children and looks forward to an enduring marketing services partnership with their parents and for good reason. Christine says, “Minuteman Press offers high quality printing with fine attention to detail at very competitive prices. They print the smallest job and the most complex project with equal skill. Carole has a keen eye and is so familiar with our print needs and style that she often anticipates our needs, making it a pleasure to work together, especially on tight deadlines. They are also a great resource locating specialty papers and products and suggesting economical alternatives to help us manage our budget.”
At the core of excellence is genuine service and how Sherman and Carole lead their staff, as Christine concludes, “It is a pleasure working with Carole, Sherman, and their staff. Their production team is top-notch, accommodating, responsive and good natured. They feel like an in-house (marketing) team rather than an outside vendor.”