Minuteman Press in Mississauga, Ont., has remained open during COVID-19 as an essential business, providing print services to local businesses as they reopen.
Franchisee Riaz Qazi and his team are offering a range of services to clients, printing social distancing products and other items to notify customers about updated hours of operation, revised menus, and guidelines. The goal, he says, is to support clients rebuild their businesses efficiently and effectively.
Qazi spent 11 years managing factories for an asphalt and ready-mix company internationally, but his move to Canada proved time to examine business ownership. Buying an existing Minuteman Press franchise was the furthest thing from his mind at the time, but he felt the climate in the workforce was not making much sense.
“I was new to the country and though I was highly qualified with two degrees, one as a civil engineer and the other an MBA with a major in marketing, it was actually a barricade to success,” says Qazi. “People kept telling me not to put both degrees on my resume, and I decided to look for something completely new, but still technical that would challenge and allow me to use my skills. That’s how I found Minuteman Press International.”
Minuteman Press was the only tech-oriented franchise opportunity that appealed to him, so he decided to buy a pre-existing franchise for two reasons: “I was new to being self-employed in a foreign country, and I was new to the printing industry,” says Qazi. “I felt with those things ‘against’ me, it would have been difficult to open a shop independently. I needed the support of a franchise.”
“I give my customers the best they can get in marketing, and I do it by over-achieving and trying to beat their deadlines,” he says.
If a bigger project is going to take four days, Qazi and his staff put in extra time and aim to get it done in three.
“We work hard to help our clients, so they always come back for repeat business,” says Qazi.
He says his wife, Ayesha, who is also his business partner, allows him to focus on gaining new business.
No one invests in a trade without the intention of making good money. Qazi directs this drive into the service of each client.
“When the centre gets busy, I get directly involved in the work,” he says. “There is no shortcut, and I like to offer more than is expected, so I make sure to deliver. I feel satisfied every time we successfully complete unique projects and jobs for our customers.”
Now, when Qazi looks back on the past 14 years of his print shop, he remembers his mindset was not passive.
“I wasn’t going to be half-hearted about my business growth,” he says. “The support I receive is wonderful. I did not imagine becoming my own boss. Now all I want to do is improve it every day and find new clients whom I can help.”
Qazi is aware respecting the company and its guidelines is the key to success.
“Our brand is recognized here, but I still tell people we are part of a large printing franchise that has almost 1000 centres.”
He admits the team strives to maintain high standards for their work, and that is not going to change.
“I am very demanding of anyone who works for me,” says Qazi. “The transition to Canada brought some cultural differences and the need to adapt my managerial skills. I used to work in Asia and Europe before moving here. Now, after working for more than a decade in North America, it has become easier. We run a tight ship.”
Qazi says Minuteman Press is part of the modern printing industry and, in keeping with this notion, he has made sure the technology he uses has evolved appropriately.
“We are an all-digital print operation today,” he says. “However, when I took over the business, we did have a few offset presses. The time came to replace them, and now, we are fully capable of just about anything ‘print.’ I offer wide-format printing and a range of promotional products. Also, we make branded signs of all kinds.”
“I do not present Minuteman Press as low end or cheap to customers,” he says. “I tell my clients upfront we do not compete on price, but for our product quality and service, our rates are nice.”
Now that Canada has proven to be a fertile ground for his career as a print shop owner, Qazi is optimistic about the future and “excited for more.”