By Cassandra Balentine
While the pandemic has been tough on many businesses, print service providers (PSPs) were well poised to make the most of it. True, demand for things like event signage evaporated as the world went into shutdown mode. But, at the same time, a need for personal protective equipment (PPE), signage with COVID-19 safety protocols, and wayfinding messaging replaced it. Those that shifted focus and adapted were able to stay afloat, and even turn a profit at a time when it would be easy to sink.
One example of this is found in the Minuteman Press Franchise in Frederick, MD. The shop opened in 1987 and was originally owned and operated by the Loudon family until 2017 when Kate Cusato and her father JP took over as co-owners. They currently run the shop with four employees.
Serving the Community
A staple in the Frederick community, Minuteman Press provides a variety of products and services including graphic design, printing, direct mail services, promotional products, banners, and posters to local clientele.
The shop is service orientated and invites its customers to look to it for help promoting their businesses with professional, eye-catching designs and high-quality printed products. It provides fast turnaround times at competitive prices, and offers free print consultations, print quotes, and delivery.
Cusato says her team makes sure to go above and beyond for its customers each and every day. “Our number one job is to make our clients look good,” she offers. “We can proudly say we exceed expectations all the time. We like being print heroes.”
The franchise typically works with medium to large businesses. “We love HVAC, medical offices, and local government agencies,” she notes.
Turning it Up
The Frederick Minuteman Press franchise does a lot of standard print work, including booklets, flyers, and business cards along with wide format print like banners, posters, and yard signs. But its services don’t end there. Several of its products saw an uptick amidst the pandemic.
This past year, Cusato notes that its apparel products really took off. “We screen print and embroider thousands of pieces per year. In addition, we constantly order promotional goods for our clients.”
The shop also increased its mailing services and witnessed more demand in this area as well.
In the past two years, Minuteman Press of Frederick saw increases in certain items specifically due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Cusato says banners and A-Frames were big sellers. “We do a lot of work for the city health department and our local hospital. Those agencies required informational as well as directional banners, posters, foamcore prints, and anything else you can think of at their COVID-19 testing and vaccination sites.”
For example, the shop created a banner printed with its wide format equipment and grommeted for the Frederick Health Hospital. Made out of 18 oz. outdoor banner material the sign was expected to be on display for four to five months and was created with a fast turnaround of four to five days.
For the Frederick County Health Department it created foamcore posters featuring two different town names that were utilized county wide. These were printed on vinyl by its wide format printer. A laminating table was used to adhere the prints to foamcore boards. These signs are all now located around the county in office buildings and have been up for months. The turnaround time was four to five days.
The company also sold hundreds of protective sneeze guards.
Outside of hospital and government work, local businesses and restaurants needed to tell the world that they were open and offering services.
In order to deal with new business demands, the shop hired a staff member during the pandemic to work in wide format.
Two years into the pandemic, they are still fielding requests for this type of COVID-19 signage.
Minuteman Press of Frederick did not let the pandemic slow it down. With a variety of offerings, it was able to step up to meet new community print demands.
“We have bounced back and I would say we have surpassed our previous level of ‘normal,’” says Cusato. The shop experienced record sales months for three months running. “COVID-19 hurt but we stayed true to our mission and values and that got us through. Now, we are busier than ever,” she admits.
As a result, the team at Minuteman Press is excited about moving its operations to a bigger facility. “We love our local business community and will continue to serve and grow. We can’t wait to get back to networking and in-person events. The way we see it, the sky is the limit. It is all about how hard we are willing to work and what expectations we set for ourselves.”
Nov2021, Digital Output