- May 5, 2021
When the Minuteman Press franchise in Naples became available, David Ogden knew a good thing when he saw it.
A resident of Naples since 2013, Ogden had owned a printing company in Egypt when he lived there. Through his research on Minuteman Press, he concluded that company “is by far and away superior on many levels for printing franchises.”
That good reputation, combined with Ogden’s long career in leadership at FedEx and past entrepreneurial experience, led him to purchase the franchise in January 2021. (He declines to disclose the purchase price.) “It happened to be an opportunity that came up that looked too good to pass on, he says. "So I didn’t."
That decision proved to be shrewd, as did a related acquisition a year later. And Ogden, in now managing a fast-growth business — who says print is dead? — is leaning on some key entrepreneurial lessons. For one, he's providing more services for existing customers. He's also leading by not micro-managing, and letting his team make decisions. One more lesson? He pays close, detailed attention to the company's finances.
In getting going, Ogden, a managing director for FedEx in Egypt and Dubai for a decade, knew Minuteman offered top-notch franchise support. He’d also learned the company caps its franchise fees. Once a franchise reaches a certain monthly revenue level, he says, it doesn’t pay royalties on the revenue above that threshold.
“They’re the only franchise I’m aware of that does that,” says Ogden, 60. “And that’s economically a pretty good deal.”
No stranger to entrepreneurial ventures, Ogden had to do a little bit of everything at first, including serving as the company’s delivery driver.
“I got firsthand knowledge of how [customers] liked the jobs when I delivered them,” he says, “and I had the opportunity to have conversations with them.”
Those conversations included questions like: What else can we do for you? What else are you outsourcing that we might be able to help you with? Ogden found many printing customers didn’t know that Minuteman Press also offers mail services, and once they did, that led to new business.
That kind of communication serves as a differentiator for the Minuteman Press franchise in Naples. The company also prides itself on its attention to detail and long-term relationships with customers.
As part of its franchise support, the Minuteman Press corporation sends out regular mailings to independent printers, offering them an option if they’re ready to retire and want to sell their business. One of those mailings connected Ogden with Naples-based Sunbelt Printing, which he acquired in September 2022.
The Minuteman corporation helps with the initial financial due diligence on such deals, which Ogden appreciates.
“They have over 800 franchises, so it’s something that’s very familiar to them, those metrics,” he says. “And they can easily identify red flags and give me direction. They don’t control the deal, but they do a lot of the work for me.”
He adds, “They came back and gave me two thumbs-up and said, ‘Yes, this is a good, solid business,’ and I negotiated with the owner and we came to a deal.”
Ogden merged Sunbelt into his Minuteman franchise, and the new, larger business is now growing at over 300% year-over-year. (He declines to disclose specific revenue figures.) But managing that kind of growth, Ogden says, comes with challenges.
“You need to make sure that you’re managing the quality, and not only of the end product but the customer expectations,” Ogden says. “When you have that much additional business, you have to plan for the amount of time. It may not be as fast as it was when you were doing half the amount of business. You have to manage expectations … in terms of production time.”
Ogden attributes the success of his company to his staff of nine, some of whom were previous Sunbelt employees. “I am part of this team and I play a role on this team, and therefore I share in this success,” he says. “But this success that we’ve had is not me … I do not see myself as being responsible for this success. I see myself as a part of a team that’s responsible.”
When it comes to managing that team, he adheres to a philosophy he learned while at FedEx. “The bottom line is you hire well, you train well, you give the employees everything they need to do their job well and then you get out of their way and let them do their job well,” he says.
Ogden is actively seeking additional acquisitions, and he knows what it takes to make them happen. “It’s about finding common ground with the owner,” he says. “The only time deals ever actually happen is when both parties win. So that’s what I start with. I keep bringing it back to this has got to work for both of us, and we eventually find a way to do that. It may be old school, but I’m not a young kid.”