With passion for service and sales, Derek Hueske prides himself on promoting worthy causes such as the Columbia Memorial Stair Climb.
A Veteran of the first Gulf War, Derek Hueske always wanted to run his own business. Still, he dedicated himself to service of the highest order in the U.S. Air Force. And while stationed at Incirlik Air Base in Turkey, he put his own entrepreneurial ambitions on hold.
Derek’s return to civilian life as a professional allowed him to pursue his love of sales. His passion and skillset enabled him to rise up the corporate ladder in several prominent companies including Coke and Pepsi, with one big name recruiting him from the other for his talent. When one of the last companies that employed him discontinued his position, Derek decided to take a fresh look at entrepreneurship.
He says, “I listen to business radio and 20 years ago I would have been labeled as a job-hopper, but today, it is expected that people will develop a varied work history. It has been said that the average 50-year old male will hold 12 jobs in his working life.” But Derek is far from average and far from average was his next choice, to become a Minuteman Press franchise owner.
“My work life has been sales. For Coke, I started from the bottom, up, working in merchandising, then on the truck, then into a new position they created, senior account manager. Pepsi then convinced me to join them for better pay and a promise of promotion,” he explains. After proving himself, he was made a territory sales manager before moving to Voss Distributing as a Division Manager, then a Key Account Manager. “I always wanted my own business, though. I am goal oriented and I like to challenge myself. Honestly, I am not sure why I chose the printing industry except to say that Minuteman Press International made me believe I could still sell without being locked into an office. I like selling because I’ve been doing it since I joined the military.”
During Derek’s work career, he observed companies place large printing orders. When he was researching businesses for sale, he “kept seeing Minuteman Press pop up.” There was a reason…
One day, in 2014, Derek took a ride in his community and he saw the Minuteman Press franchise for sale so he stopped in to visit and take his first look at the well-known brand that kept tugging at him during his business pursuit. “It was funny because I live in Columbia, so when I saw it, I went inside. I expected it to look like a Staples inside, but it was a much more favorable layout. The owner and I had a chance to talk and from there, it happened fairly quickly that I knew this was going to be my investment. It was an underperforming printing franchise, but the reasons had to do with illness and the owner needed to sell as his priorities were elsewhere. I knew I could come in and focus on the essential growth of the business,” explains Derek. He added with certainty, “I was used to a good living before I bought my franchise and I was not going to give that up. I was going to turn this business around into a success.”
Derek’s business acumen, passion for helping others and refusal to forfeit are some of the reasons he has earned a good living and respect. Just as important, he has class, too. Derek willfully credits the proven system of Minuteman Press International and specifically, the local support so many other franchise systems do not offer.
“A lot of my success comes in the form of support from our local representatives such as my Field Representative, Kevin Dunaway. I am not just saying that as he really has been so helpful, taking my calls any time of the day and being here with really good ideas when I need them. Since our support personnel like Kevin and Regional Vice President Keith Cawley travel and work with other Minuteman Press franchise owners, they see what works and what doesn’t. To that, I attribute a lot of our success.”
Stagnation is forbidden in Derek’s digital print, design and marketing services center. Instead, he explains, “We are always looking for ways to improve and one of the biggest things I like to do is learn about my competitors and what they are doing so we can do it better. I ask a lot of questions and observe trends so I can work with my staff and make certain we are on top of everything and doing 110% all the time.” Ultimately, excellence comes naturally to this military war veteran who has directed specialized care into his civilian pursuits and his clients are thriving and loyal because of it.
“Minuteman Press International is a company based out of New York and we truly know the importance of first responders. It is so good to see an owner from my region like Derek Hueske, a war Veteran, giving back to the community and those who keep it safe.” – Keith Cawley, Minuteman Press International Regional Vice President, Missouri / Heartland Region
The best part is that after serving his country and being very conscious NOT to waste his life in corporate “auto-pilot”, he chose to buy a business and it has made him happy enough to come in to the center off-hours. “I always tell everyone who sees me in the office on a Saturday that I come in strictly because I want to be there. I enjoy what I do as a business owner and during the week, I choose to see the customers as they come in and put other tasks aside to do so. I do not have to come in on the weekends because this is a Monday through Friday operation; but I choose to come in during those times because I like to accomplish things here, quietly.”
While his wife, Christine, works at the University of Missouri and takes care of the books for the family business in Columbia, Derek notes the proficiency and pleasure of working with the rest of his team. “Josh is our production manager and was already on staff and a lot of the customers knew him as he has been working with them since the beginning. When I took over, we started to get bigger and in more demand, so we added more staff and our days flow well with great chemistry. It’s interesting because sometimes customers will apologize for ordering a $10 job and while we do want the big jobs, of course, we are always so appreciative even of those $10 jobs.”
“The fortunate thing about our reputation for getting the job done could also be argued as unfortunate since we accomplish things that seem impossible at the last minute. People have come to know this and show up at the last minute and we take care of things for them.” – Derek Hueske
It seems fitting that a man who would put his own personal ambitions on hold to serve his country would elect to become part of the Minuteman Press International family of franchise owners. As they apply an “other’s first” approach to service in the printing industry. Building business together by welcoming connection directly with each client is how Derek prefers to run his operation. “There simply has to be personal service,” he insists (and not just for sentimental reasons). “A lot of people are checking Google reviews and Yelp and trust me, service comes into play. I won’t bash my competitors but those big box places do not care if they see you again. We do. We want you to come back to us.”
Minuteman Press is partnered with The Columbia Memorial Stair Climb. The organization was founded in 2016 and held its inaugural climb on May 6th, 2017.
The Climb is first and foremost a memorial event which holds first responders who have paid the ultimate sacrifice in the highest regard and exists to honor them. Two beneficiaries from all registration fees collected are “Safety Net of Missouri” and “Firefighter Cancer Support Network”, both providing direct benefits to firefighters and their families. The people running The Climb look forward to honoring the fallen for many years to come and Derek looks forward to supporting their efforts through design and print. “I met organizer Tommy Goron when he came to a BNI meeting as a visitor with one of our vendors and he was trying to drum-up support for a firefighter, Marc Wright. Marc recently passed away after battling cancer and shortly before his death he had a wish to ride on Rescue 1, a truck in New York, so we printed all that was needed for his fundraiser and the group was able to help fulfill his wish.” After that, Tommy came back to Minuteman Press for help with what would be a continuing and sacred event, The Memorial Stair Climb, organized by Tommy (a firefighter himself) and his wife, Tiffany.
“We produced the plaques needed for dedications, redesigned and printed the packets needed to gain sponsorship, created step-and-repeat backdrops for “photo opps”, table signs of all sizes for registration and everything they could possibly need when they attend trade shows, including banners,” he adds.
“In Missouri, those who registered for The Climb formed lines and rounded the stadium until they walked the same number of stairs that the firefighters at The World Trade Center did so heroically on 9/11. To help make that event more memorable, we printed 500 lanyards and each had a photo of a firefighter who died in the line of duty that day. So as people walked in to begin, they were handed a lanyard with the fallen firefighter’s photo to wear around their necks. When each person completed The Climb a firefighter’s name was announced in respect,” Derek explains.
“The quality of the products provided by Columbia Minuteman Press is amazing! Everything we have received is made from quality material that I expect will last for many years to come,” offers Tiffany Goron, Marketing Director for The Columbia Memorial Climb. “Derek has been instrumental in growing the marketing side of our event. Every product we have received from minutemen has given us a professional look that has been a draw to many new participants. Every aspect of the process from design to pick up is a breeze!”
As a military war veteran, Derek is personally gratified to do such work for the fallen first responders and their families. “I truly wish to continue our work together. It will be bigger and bigger every year.”
It is clear the desire to continue this good work together is mutual as Tiffany concludes, “We could not be happier with every aspect of the work done. We are looking forward to continuing our partnership with Minuteman Press of Columbia for many years to come.”