Trust Vets Directory Connect the Public to U.S. Veteran Business Owners
“My husband, James, is an Army Veteran and the backbone of our business.”
James and Katie are living examples of entrepreneurs who know that doing well in the B2B services industry means care to attention beyond data on spreadsheets. “B2B is all about personalized customer service. If people do not like you, they will not work with you, period. I know all of my customers very well. I enjoy asking them about their families when they call. I surprise my best customers with gifts every year. Trust and relationships are everything. My customers know I am honest and will treat them right. Many of our customers say how much they love working with ‘Katie, James & Tim,’ not just Minuteman Press. I think that says a lot about who we are,” Katie explains.
“My team knows that family comes first and there are no questions asked when a family emergency comes up. I always say, ‘Take care of them first and fill me in later.’” – Katie Lawrence, Minuteman Press franchise owner, Ham Lake, Minnesota
As a family-owned and family run digital printing, design and marketing franchise with more than 15 years of experience in the printing industry, Minuteman Press in Ham Lake has all the elements of gainful longevity. Katie says, “My husband, James, is an Army Veteran and the backbone of our business. He has a business degree, so he tends to handle the finances and I tend to handle the design and production. Our marketing manager Tim lives in Ham Lake and really loves working with customers. My mother Susan also helps out from time to time when she is up visiting from Florida. She is retired now but she too has experience in print production.”
She adds, “I rely heavily on the creative problem solving capabilities of our team. We will discuss projects together and come up with viable solutions. Our Minuteman Press International support team and network of vendors are also an incredible resource for quick turn projects.”
Katie Lawrence looked to hire a fellow BNI member to sharpen their sales team, but the interview yielded a business concept that made Minuteman Press and The Trust Vets Directory partners in what was to become something far greater…
U.S. Veteran members of Trust Vets and TrustVets.com are supported through outstanding networking opportunities, professional connections, a web directory profile, social media promotions and a special “Friend of Veterans” program. It all started as a concept conceived by Katie Lawrence’s fellow BNI member, Joe Johnson, who was in between jobs. Katie respected him and hoped to hire him as part of her team at Minuteman Press several years ago. “At that time, we were just starting out in business and Minuteman Press International encouraged BNI membership, so we took that advice and one of the people we met was Joe Johnson. I wanted to hire him to sell Minuteman Xpress Ads and in the interview, he told me that HE had an opportunity for me, so I listened as he unveiled his idea to launch Trust Vets. He told me he wanted to show me first because he knew I could produce great marketing material for a presale as he was intent on building a network large enough to launch a web directory,” she explains.
Joe approached James and Katie to ask if they would be the first members of his directory, based on James’ Army Veteran status. In exchange, he would receive their print and marketing support. “Of course, my answer was ‘Yes, I will absolutely help you.’ I wanted to help him by hiring him, but THIS was far better. We began considering marketing approaches and immediately began producing flyers, sign-up sheets, and registration forms so he had something to use as he went out to promote his brand to veteran-owned companies.”
Since that initial meeting with Katie, Joe has gained 400 members for Trust Vets. He has launched his website and holds monthly meetings and events in different areas around the Twin Cities. He has also been on the local news more than once.
His network of Veteran business owners continues to expand with the marketing services expertise of his partners at Minuteman Press and James Lawrence has come to be very active within the organization. Katie shares, “Throughout the years, we continue to be supportive and produce whatever he might need. He might come by and say he needs banners and yard signs to direct people to events. I have rarely charged him in cash because we always bartered and there is a good reason why. The business we get is built upon the network itself as all of the other Veteran business owners look to my husband James as a veteran business owner himself and we have become their source for print, design and marketing as a result. We mark all of our branded collateral with a seal that indicates we are a ‘proud member of Trust Vets.’ It lets everyone know we are a U.S. Veteran-owned printing franchise.”
She continues with a nod to her partner and husband, “We earn our money for the work we do for Joe from all the Veterans in Trust Vets who patronize us. James is the face of our company in that regard and goes to all of their monthly meetings. As a fellow veteran, has built a strong comradery with these guys and through that comradery, we get business.”
Trust Vets gained enough popularity that their official seal is in high demand and the branded apparel suggested by Minuteman Press are hot items
Minuteman Press in Ham Lake has had Trust Vets’ brand images on file since day one, so anytime a confirmed member company wants to promote as such, they call Katie and James Lawrence. “It’s great when new customers call and ask me for the “Trust Vets seal.” They want to put this seal as a mark of pride on their flyers, signs and business cards. I then proceed to confirm they are members through the directory online and once I do, I am happy to give them the official seal on all their printing,” Katie says.
A few years ago, as it was clear the desire to support veteran-owned businesses was quite strong and Trust Vets members could use more ways to promote themselves, Katie and James offered to launch just the right branded apparel options starting with polo shirts, hats and sweatshirts. She adds, “I told Joe that if he lets me launch an apparel line for him, we will take care of all of it and of each item we sell, $5 will go back to support his company. Out of that, not only did we gain a really nice apparel order, but I was able to take a portion of sales and give it right back to Trust Vets.”
While Minuteman Press is an all-encompassing partner in marketing, Katie handles the digital angle of promotions to serve as a means of accelerated growth going forward: “In the future, we will build a retail website for the general public to order hats, mugs, polos, etc. It is a concept that could lead to Trust Vets promotional items exploding in popularity online. We can also incorporate an opportunity for members to order from the website and give Trust Vets financial support, too.”
Joe was in the other day for more printing and marketing support and asked what he owed us. The answer was ‘nothing’. He never charged us a dime for our Trust Vets member profile and James is featured there. We agreed to this arrangement because it’s the right thing to do, but it has also been great for our business.
The arrangement between Minuteman Press and Trust Vets is rooted in goodwill and comes with a rewarding sense of community, according to Katie Lawrence:
- While Trust Vets isn’t in their top hundred accounts, two of Katie’s and James’ top 25 customers are Trust Vets members and an impressive amount of work came from those new clients last year, alone.
- Minuteman Press has been featured at several official Trust Vet’s events. Not long ago, iHeartRadio held a World War II event and we were the official printing sponsor for the event.
- We use fellow Trust Vets members for their services, too. For instance, we just had a problem with our plumbing and we called Justin from All Ways Drains to take care of it because he just put in a large order with us and, in turn, I trusted him when we needed him.
Joe Johnson is the founder of Trust Vets and his trust in his marketing services provider is evident, “Since the very first Trust Vets flyer ever printed, Katie and James Lawrence at Ham Lake Minuteman Press have done an outstanding job for our company and our members. We’ve had many types of items printed and have always received an exceptional final product with top-notch customer service. So good in fact, my wife and I trusted them with our personal printing needs for our own wedding.”
It is uncommon to boast a perfect track record of success, but Joe (by offering praise that credits James, Katie and their team members with exactly that distinction) concludes, “We look forward to maintaining a long-term relationship between Ham Lake Minuteman Press and Trust Vets! It’s a great luxury knowing we can refer literally anyone from our network and know they will receive professional advice, excellent service and exceptional products. After years of doing business together, I’m proud to say Katie and James have gotten it right 100% of the time.”