For nine years and counting Minuteman Press franchise owners Jeff and Lise Whittle have dedicated themselves to serving their clients in Ayr, Scotland. They are meticulous in their care for every project entrusted to them and they continue to grow and lead the business-to-business services industry with loyal partnerships.
Meet Jeff and Lise Whittle
Jeff and Lise Whittle bring depth of knowledge from diverse careers into their digital print, design and marketing services centre in Ayr. The well-educated couple developed respectable, diverse careers. Jeff says, “I am a graduate mechanical engineer (University of Bristol) and have an MBA from Kingston Business School. My previous career was as a Quality Engineer becoming a Quality Director, before I moved into Programme Management as a Project Director.”
Meanwhile, Lise developed her skills both in the creative and educational fields. “My wife, Lise, has an artistic background, having studied Silversmithing and Jewellery to degree level, she became a Designer Jeweller until our family came along. When she returned to work, she became a part-time Teaching Assistant.” They gained strong reputations in their industries of choice, but as their lives progressed, the demands of working for someone else became complicated and the desire to simplify and make room for more time together led them to Minuteman Press International.
Jeff reflects on his journey to entrepreneurship, “My United Kingdom Company was acquired by a US company and I was later promoted to General Manager running a £50million sales factory with 500 employees. The US parent company had a strong focus on sales and I moved into the sales team eventually becoming a Global Sales Director looking after major OEM accounts. By 2005, the company had closed the Western European facilities and had moved them to a large site close to Warsaw, Poland, where I had a weekly commute from the UK.”
Though he remained steadfast, tough economic times often influence corporate layoffs, and Jeff’s company was no exception. “The US parent company eventually closed the Warsaw factory in 2007 and I moved to their larger competitor, the US-based Flextronics, as a Senior Business Development Director for their Polish facility in the north of Poland. I worked there for 2 years, before the recession hit and when the Western European expatriates were eventually let go, as we had trained up our Polish colleagues.”
Having had enough of travel in Europe, Jeff started to look for a job closer to home. “One of my electives for my MBA was small business management and I thought it was time to be my own boss. I went along to a franchise fair in Glasgow and met the Minuteman Press International team. I was definitely interested and Vice President George Holzmacher met with me on several occasions to visit some of the Minuteman centres in Scotland.” The impression made upon visiting working Scottish Minuteman Press owners was enough to warrant serious consideration, but the choice to buy a printing business was not one he or Lise would take lightly.
Why Minuteman Press?
Coming from a manufacturing engineering background, one of the key factors in the couple’s choice of franchises, Minuteman Press International, was the proprietary software that was part of their proven system of operations. The software has been carefully designed to benefit Minuteman Press franchise owners worldwide and has helped franchisees manage their business operations. Jeff explains, “At that time, it was called FOCUS. Since then, Minuteman Press has made a major investment and redesigned the system from scratch to an even better system called FLEX. Another key factor was that the company had family values and really wanted the owners to succeed, offering superb support at all times.”
After thorough due diligence, Jeff and Lise decided to go ahead with a new start-up franchise in their home town of Ayr. “After identifying a site for our store, Lise and I went to the two-week training program in the US. Again, I was impressed with Minuteman Press International’s facilities and their high standard of training. Personally, it was important to really succeed as we were investing our life savings in this new venture and I made sure I did the homework each night, so we were prepared for the next day’s training.”
Arriving back from the US, Jeff and Lise were pleased to see that the centre we had chosen was revamped and made ready. “Our new equipment was installed and tested. We interviewed and selected a full-time Graphic Designer who we employed, and we were ready to open on when the country was still in recession. We were very ably supported by our Area Manager Dave Watson, who worked with us for 3 weeks with our store setup and initial marketing to our local business community.”
Building something truly great comes with sacrifice and dedication, both of which Jeff and Lise have given in abundance as marketing services providers to the community of Ayr since the beginning. “Lise worked part-time in the store and I worked full time. It was tough at the beginning, however, I received terrific support from Dave Watson, my local BNI group, friends and relatives and I redoubled my marketing efforts to get it on track.”
One of the best rewards of entrepreneurship came to fruition for Jeff and Lise through franchise ownership – a life’s work that now includes their children in the business.
As they continue to affirm their reputation for delivering excellent results and providing personal customer service, Jeff and Lise have expanded their customer base. They have brought their children on board to help them with the family business. “Our business has steadily grown,” Jeff explains. “Our two sons and daughter worked part-time during their university and college holidays. Our youngest son continues to work part-time within the bindery department, and our daughter, Lara (the youngest), has joined us as a full-time graphic designer, since leaving college with her HND. It is marvellous that the next generation has joined us and we enjoy working well together. We also employ two other full-time graphic designers (who are also both excellent), so we have doubled our staff complement since we have opened.”
Dave Watson, Area Manager for Minuteman Press International, UK North, is pleased to provide continuing, local support to Minuteman Press in Ayr. Dave says, “Lise and Jeff are absolutely a lovely couple who have been a pleasure to work with over the years. Their determination, work ethic, quality, and great customer service has helped them build a great family business.”
When asked for advice he would share with his fellow or prospective franchisees, Jeff answers, “It is important to keep marketing to new and existing customers.” He continues, “We aim to serve our customers with care and efficiency. We are also proud when new customers come to us on the basis of referrals.”
About Minuteman Press International
Minuteman Press International is the number one rated business marketing and printing franchise that offers world class training and unparalleled ongoing local support. Started in 1973 by Roy Titus and his son Bob, Minuteman Press began franchising in 1975 and has grown to nearly 1,000 business service franchise locations worldwide including the U.S., Australia, Canada, South Africa, and the United Kingdom. Minuteman Press is ranked #1 in category by Entrepreneur 26 times and 15 years in a row, including 2018. Franchise Business Review has also named Minuteman Press International to its 2018 Top Franchises, 2018 Top Franchise Leaders, and 2018 Top Franchises for Women lists thanks to positive reviews from our owners.
At Minuteman Press, We Are The Modern Printing Industry™ providing high quality products and services that meet the needs of today’s business professionals and go way beyond ink on paper. Today, our centers offer innovative branding solutions and produce custom designs, promotional products, branded apparel, direct mail marketing, large format printing (banners and posters), signs and graphics, and much more. Prior experience is not necessary to own and operate a successful Minuteman Press franchise.
Source: Globe News Wire