COVID-19 Stories: Print Franchisee Proves Value as Essential Business

The arrival of COVID-19 to Peoria, Ariz., put Tim Earick and Jim McPhetres’ digital print design and marketing center to the test. Their International Minute Press franchise in Peoria – part of the Minuteman Press International family – has been able to remain open as an essential business and best serve their community.  Earick, a lifelong print professional, and McPhetres, a military veteran, remain calm and find solutions for their loyal clients.

Explains Earick, “March didn’t affect us too much, even with all of the issues going on with the virus. Printing is essential but it is also flexible, so we diversified years ago with services like customized vehicle car wraps, wide format printing and creative design.”

Other businesses were understandably slowed down, but progress as a print provider was uninterrupted as demand shifted, and both Earick and McPhetres were ready.  Says Earick, “For instance, we have a client with a fleet of vehicles so he can operate his three different businesses: security, solar and pest control.   He had many people wanting to ‘get off the grid’ and go solar, boosting sales and allowing him to buy five new vehicles.”

Then, to keep driving those sales, he turned to Earick for customized, professionally branded printing. “We prepared the design, produced it and wrapped 80 cars for this client.  His businesses became stronger during COVID-19. He needed fast service and we were there for him.”

International Minute Press Peoria, Ariz., Provides Community Outreach

During the pandemic, the City of Peoria needed community outreach assistance and Earick was able to guide them as their needs changed with the situation.  McPhetres is on the board of directors at the Chamber of Commerce, so between the two of them swift moves were made in the right direction.  Recalls McPhetres, “We were doing community outreach for them when the decision was made to turn focus on other things, too.  Originally, they needed us to do a vehicle wrap for one official van and the changes wound up requiring two vehicles.   We took on the second van and wrapped both vehicles with city designations to allow quicker collection of census data and get much-needed funds into Peoria.”

Earick continues, “There was one day back in March when I gave my staff the day off and I remained at the center.  Emails and calls were slow and I did get worried that day, but it turns out no worries were necessary.  I left at 12 noon, had email and calls forwarded to my cell phone and did not know what to expect.  That evening was when the city called me to do the first census van and, honestly, our entire business has been non-stop since then.”

Expanding Products and Services to Include Wide Format Printing and Vehicle Wrapping

Some people do not realize the car detailing that International Minute Press Peoria provides, but it’s been a delight when they discover it.  “I am putting racing stripes on sports cars and mud-splashes on jeeps,” says Earick. “I have been in the print world for many years and built a career in the Minuteman Press franchise system. I’ve owned the business for 7 years and have 25 years as a professional in the industry.”

Earick and McPhetres remained at their first location for only one year before sales growth enabled them to move to their current center at 9299 W Olive Ave., Suite 401. This allowed for greater space and new wide-format printers.  “Catering to our wide-format print orders and getting more space to operate allowed us to maintain our digital printers, cutters and other normal equipment, but now we can also say we have three vehicles in the back, lined up for our customized vehicle wrapping service.  We did well, adapting over the years, and now most people are coming to realize it is way more than a print shop. It’s good for us and the community.”

Receiving Franchise Support & Supporting Other Local Businesses

Earick has a friendly rapport with others in his franchise family and is happy to share ideas.  “A year ago, we had a lot of other franchisees get together and we shared vendor stories and experiences.  I was happy to offer myself to those who wanted to learn about this kind of print work with vehicles.  If you do not do it, there is much to learn.”

He says he has “a ton of accounts exclusive to vehicle graphics and wrapping, plus normal print customers,” with one huge customer in mind who provides online courses.

That one is medical transcription training, which requires a great deal of printing, and the customer has such faith in her relationship with International Minute Press that she referred her son’s new business.  “She is a huge customer, working from home.  She makes a great deal of money with a good business and she orders a ton of printing to keep it going.  When her son started a karate school, we helped him overcome the COVID-19 restrictions on in-person classes with three consecutive months of targeted direct mail,” says Earick.

Customized pocket folders with detailed information packets were designed, printed and provided so martial artists in the area know where to go for training.  “We helped him showcase his online offerings and personal training so students can make progress until he can welcome them to traditional classes in his studio.  We want to make sure he can keep his doors open for members, and he’s getting this done well.”

Giving Back with Charity Water Drive Creates Increased Brand Awareness

For the second year in a row, International Minute Press in Peoria helped the area beat the heat with a charity water drive. Last year, there was excitement to see the sports cars, and locals flowed in with donations. Relates Earick, “When we hit triple digit temperatures, we knew people are going to need more water. People came to see all the custom-wrapped sports cars and retired Arizona Cardinals in attendance, right behind our center.  We collected 240 cases during four hours of fun on a Saturday morning and donated them to the Salvation Army.”

In 2020, with momentum already strong in their service to the business community, nothing could stop International Minute Press from giving back when the community needed it most.  The new theme, “Tailgate Parking Lot,” again welcomed NFL players to sign autographs with professionally designed and wrapped sports cars rolling in to everyone’s delight.

This time, COVID-19 tried to put the brakes on the fun, but was overpowered by the same unstoppable spirit that put their brand on the map.  “I called the charity and discovered they could not send trucks to pick up our donations, but I was not going to let that stop us. I called a local radio station, knowing they host another drive, ‘Operation Hydration,’ and when we didn’t hear back right away, I looked up the charity behind the drive, Phoenix Rescue.  They were so happy we didn’t give up and sent a truck right away,” says Tim, adding that the story gets better – the radio station he tried to reach — KUPD — which has the biggest morning show in the state, had a surprise for him.

“I didn’t know they were going to do this, but they talked about the 500 cases of water we collected and then their sponsor and two other companies joined us for a total of 1,400 cases of water for Phoenix House this summer.”

Hope and meaningful growth are what Earick and McPhetres are all about, and it keeps coming back to enrich their business. “Phoenix Rescue was so impressed with the hustle of the team at International Minute Press, they came for help with even more charitable events,” Earick says. “We never imagined our desire to help would turn into more than people coming by to see the work we did on the sports cars and get a few autographs.  It turned into a promotion for our center when the radio station picked up on it, so that worked out to be pretty neat.”

Ultimately, Earick, McPhetres and the team at International Minute Press in Peoria are contributing to the community and giving everyone around them the feeling that things are getting better for local businesses because they know it to be true.

Earick concludes, “I imagine we are like people everywhere, just needing that encouragement to keep going.  Our client base is positive.  We are getting back on track and going forward together.”

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