Dawn and Jeff Brown take action and pay close attention to detail, traits that never fail the people who count upon them. Their five children have a front row view of two people and entrepreneurs who refuse to settle for less than extraordinary.
Dawn immersed herself in parenting and philanthropy, in time, as her family matured, she instinctively moved to the next level professionally. This included finishing her bachelor’s degree. She enrolled online at Brigham Young University-Idaho. During her first year, she met with other local students weekly. Over the next few years the group kept in touch. One of her classmates, Damon Garcia, eventually left his career in finance to buy a printing business.
Garcia’s change from corporate life, planted the seed of business ownership for Dawn, and in the spring of 2018, Jeff’s lengthy commute to work, as a software engineer for Microsoft, grew too tedious and the seed sprouted. “We looked at business ownership for quite a while and wanted to go in our own direction. I wanted to be closer to home and Dawn knew a Minuteman Press franchise owner who was doing well. It was time for us to make a move.” Jeff said.
Dawn explained, “At the time, Damon was my classmate and working in finance in Seattle, he later went on to buy, and currently owns the Minuteman Press in Issaquah, WA. As Jeff and I were brainstorming, I recalled a lunch meeting I had a few years earlier with Damon regarding his transition and relayed his success to my husband Jeff. His interest was piqued enough to meet with Chris Jutt (Northwest Regional Vice President of Minuteman Press).” Jeff added, “Chris was great as he told us the history of Minuteman Press International and how it all works. It’s a family-oriented franchise which we liked. Chris, was instrumental in setting up several visits with active franchise owners across Western Washington. It was fun and informative talking to them. We found out what it’s really like to own a Minuteman Press franchise without any pressure to buy. It just made our decision that much easier to make.”
Jeff continued, “Chris found an independent print shop for sale in Kent, WA, near our home, and helped negotiate the purchase. At the same time, we planned to convert it into our Minuteman Press franchise.” Having a veteran franchisor in their corner was already apparent Jeff added, “Chris was instrumental in negotiating the deal on our behalf.” Jeff and Dawn preferred an existing location so they could “jump right in rather than build from the bottom up,” says Jeff.
Already comfortable with management, Jeff smoothly transitioned from 20 years as a software engineer (seventeen of them within Microsoft) into a marketing services provider. “At Microsoft, although it was a big corporation with over 100,000 employees, our teams were comprised of about 7 to 10 people. It felt like working within a small business environment. In the Windows division, I developed a sense of our customer’s needs and paid attention to how to provide for those needs. It was a natural transition for me to go from that environment to owning my own business. I was also excited to live closer to home as my commute to Microsoft had grown to nearly 2-hours a day.”
During their first week in business, their very first client came to them, in what Dawn described as “a cute story.” “One of our first customers met us as we were literally moving in, carrying things and setting up the center. She walked up to me intending to market her restaurant with a menu in hand, and mentioned they were a new business across the street. I immediately asked her, ‘who is printing your menus?’ She was so excited that we could print them for her and had planned to go into Seattle later that day to get more menus. We ended up printing and laminating all her restaurant menus and have since done several other orders for her, including direct mail marketing.”
Action comes second nature to Dawn; as her first customer stumbled upon their business, she was immediately invited in for a tour!
Pacha, the restaurant owner of Bahn 12, and Dawn, have a fun connection because they opened up on the same day. Dawn often heads across the street to help advise Pacha on cost effective ways to market and promote their new business. Currently, they are collaborating on custom feather flags for their street front and new signs for their exterior.
Chris Jutt, the Northwest Regional Vice President for Minuteman Press International had this to say, “From my first meeting with Jeff and Dawn Brown, I saw something in them that I knew would be perfect for this franchise opportunity. They knew from day one, what it would take to grow a successful business and they were not scared of the work, they welcomed it! They hit the ground running and have flooded the community with their presence and positive attitudes. They motivated me at times when I needed a boost (and we all have those times).”
The original staff was also retained from the transition. “They are wonderful,” according to Dawn. “Micah is full-time and he takes care of production as well as design and Zach does full-time design, but works part-time. Both Zach and Micah have degrees in graphic design. Our third employee is our son, Jensen, who is helping us for the summer as he works towards a degree in finance.”
“We wanted the employees of the center we bought to know that they didn’t have to worry about their jobs. We had to come in with confidence and assure them that the conversion to Minuteman Press was a POSITIVE change. They know now.”– Dawn Brown
They made transitioning a current business into a Minuteman Press franchise look easy to the community of Kent, but the couple had to revise everything from quality to customer service, leveling-up from the independent print shop way to the Minuteman Press system of operations. “We needed to transition a lot from the previous printer’s service to the right kind, our kind.” Said Jeff.
An example of their commitment to customer service was told by Dawn, “There is a small business in Seattle that we inherited as a customer. They order several cases of tractor fed paper twice a year. An order was placed and delivered months before we assumed ownership. A few months into ownership the customer called to complain about the poor quality of the paper. To solve their problem on this large order, we visited the customer to get samples of the paper, then contacted our own paper supply company to research better options. The result was that the previous owner had sold them a lower quality paper but had charged the same amount. In order to rectify the quality difference, Jeff and Dawn paid the difference for better quality paper, personally picked up the old cases of paper and delivered the new paper, at no expense to the customer. We made sure the finished job was top-notch, but it is work and sacrifice to rebuild a reputation.” Yet, they are doing it, building a new reputation under the well-respected Minuteman Press brand.
“For us, seeing the finished product and the customer loving it is a great feeling. They thank us for ensuring the details of design are in line with their ideas and concepts. Delivering that final product knowing it’s going to help them grow, is the best part of their day. The smile, the gratitude and the partnership are enormously satisfying.”
As Minuteman Press franchise owners, they can say We Are The Modern Printing Industry. They are building a business together both with established customers and new endeavors. In the case of one client, they are a marketing services provider on two fronts.
Dawn explains, “Joel Weston works for Emser Tiles in outside sales and we take care of all of his printing marketing needs as far as his day job. He was driving by and stopped in with an urgent need to get some things produced for a presentation which we gladly handled. Also, he is starting his own business in addition to his full-time job, so he asked a lot of questions about entrepreneurship which I was happy to answer. We will be with him every step of the way as he develops his brand.”
One of the center’s designers, Zach, spent a lot of time with Joel helping him put life into his financial services business concept. Dawn says, “We helped him design and print his first business cards and he was the first to review us on social media. It’s a wonderful partnership, both as he works for Emser Tile and as he launches his own venture in finance.”
Managing a full-time job for Emser Tile and creating his own start-up on the side keeps Joel moving and Minuteman Press in Kent is moving at just the right pace to make it all work well for him. “Minuteman Press service is off the charts excellent and they are affordable. Their response is prompt and they are helping me with marketing as I need a lot of catalogs printed and lots of other things produced to support my work at Emser Tile in the greater Seattle area. I can count on them for anything I bring to the table and I am excited for them, taking advantage of the Minuteman Press model to go into business for themselves. I now know they can do anything in terms of design and marketing.”
As for his own entrepreneurial pursuit on the side, Joel is thankful for the partnership with Minuteman Press and the specialists on staff. “Their in-house designer is awesome. I have another business starting while I am working at Emser. It is a start-up company in real estate and they are helping me with brand design from logos to campaigns directed for a specific market I am going after. They have been giving me so many great ideas instead of just taking orders from me. It is the best relationship and I can say they are way more than any print service company I have ever worked with. It feels way more personable as they help me impress my customers.”
For the owners of Minuteman Press in Kent, the future is bound to include more fruitful actions. Each new relationship is an opportunity to help their clients succeed. As Jeff says, “We didn’t picture this years ago, but when an idea feels right as a couple, we make it happen! When we see something good, we arrange our lives and goals to accomplish it.”
Chris Jutt pulls no punches when it comes to his forecast of Minuteman Press in Kent, “Jeff and Dawn are a powerhouse couple with entrepreneurial traits that complement one another, yet they are still willing to get uncomfortable and do what it takes to succeed.”