"For years, I was on a plane traveling across the country and internationally, yet people didn't know me in my own neighborhood. I really wanted to be more engaged in my own community, and being a business owner allows me to meet so many terrific people and help them in any way I can." –Neal Sugarman, International Minute Press business owner, Cary, N.C.
Neal Sugarman has taken over the center and brings a strong background in business development, marketing and sales to the table. "I am really excited to leverage my corporate experience and help other businesses grow. International Minute Press has all of the tools to help me do just that," says Neal.
International Minute Press has served Cary and other local area businesses for over ten years. Today, Neal wants business owners to know that IMP is a full-service printing, marketing, design and promotional products provider. "We can meet the printing and marketing needs of any business and provide everything from posters and signage to promotional products and custom apparel. Anything with a name, image or logo on, we can produce. We also have direct mail and advertising programs that can really make a difference and deliver results."
Why buy a marketing and printing franchise?
Throughout Neal Sugarman's career in business management, one thing that was undeniable was his passion for business development. He has been a driver in several successful start-ups in addition to managing large, complex businesses. Neal says, "I have developed a passion over the years to work with business owners in developing ways to grow and enhanced their businesses. I enjoyed working with business owners to guide them toward a better understanding of their business and how to achieve their goals."
So why did Neal decide to buy a marketing and printing franchise? "I knew I wanted to own a local business. I spoke with Minuteman Press Regional Vice President David Walton awhile back, and at first I was leery of printing. However, I quickly realized the opportunity that was in front of me – that building a marketing services company that includes strategy development, graphic design, printing, advertising, promotional products, and other services is the perfect way to help my customers. And International Minute Press offered a great platform and support structure from which to offer these services. I wanted to help customers drive everything from strategy to marketing programs, and this franchise gave me all of the tools to implement them."
Neal continues, "Dave Walton was important in helping me pull the trigger on business ownership. I appreciated the franchise model because of the support I knew I would get." He expands on this point, adding, "Being able to walk into this and have an incredibly competent proprietary software system that runs our business that does everything from quoting, accounting and production workflow – allows us to serve our customers better. Having the support of the franchise – training new employees, helping us every step of the way – it enables me to focus more of my resources on my customers and their needs rather than building infrastructure."
Feeling at home as a business owner
Since taking over the business, Neal has really felt more at home in Cary than he ever did while working in the corporate sector. "For years, I was on a plane traveling across the country and internationally, yet people didn't know me in my own neighborhood. I really wanted to build a network in my own community, and being a business owner allows me to meet so many terrific people and help them in any way I can."
Neal is active in various networking groups and organizations including being an Ambassador on the Cary Chamber of Commerce and an integral member of the Heart of Cary Association, which is dedicated to driving sensible development downtown. Neal states, "Cary has a population of over 150,000 residents. What better way to meet people than to be an Ambassador? I try to attend almost every ribbon cutting to ensure I meet and support other new business owners." As for his work with Heart of Cary, Neal comments, "I am now the Chairperson of Heart of Cary's Government Relations Committee and work with the Cary government as a liaison between the group and the city. Our downtown area is going through a renaissance and we see it as a catapult for businesses to leverage the development that's going on."
What is a typical day like for a Neal Sugarman now that he runs his own business? "I will come into the center early in the morning and have a production meeting with staff. We will go over customer needs, orders, production activity, proofs, deliveries, and develop a game plan for the day. Then, I spend 4 or 5 hours out every day with customers and potential new customers, doing what I do best.
For Neal and his team, flexibility is key. "We pride ourselves on jumping on customer requests efficiently and immediately. I also think it's important for me to continually deliver the message to our customers that we have strategically positioned ourselves as having all of the capabilities to meet their business needs with our products and services."
Business growth plans and customer satisfaction
Even when it comes to growing the business, Neal thinks of his customers first. He says, "I am really careful about controlling our growth, as I don't want to ever go beyond our service capabilities. We want to always grow with the utmost customer satisfaction. My background in business development really comes into play here and I am confident about our plans."
The good news is that International Minute Press is already experiencing growth under Neal's ownership. He plans to continue that trend: "We're doing well, we're ahead of our budget and sales plan. We have greatly expanded our product offerings and we are getting more business from large format printing, apparel, direct mail, and promotional products in addition to digital printing. I believe that investing in people is important and I brought in a highly skilled graphic designer and a new customer service manager. Our focus is 100 percent customer satisfaction, to keep commitments and provide the highest quality products and services."
The feedback Neal has received from customers is very encouraging: "The existing customer base has been extremely receptive to our expanded products and services. They tell me, 'You were great before and now you're even better!' All of our customers can now do more with us, which they love."
They have just unveiled an interactive showroom and upgraded production area. Neal is focused on quality and customer satisfaction and has invested in both with new equipment investments and the hiring of additional employees. "I am excited about where things are headed, and I love that I get to help people right here in Cary in the process."