Contact Printing and Mailing Ltd., the long-time independent printing business located at 339 2nd Street West in North Vancouver, has been sold and converted to Minuteman Press, North Vancouver. Owners Bob Gibson and Dave Brown have sold the forty-one-year-old business to Doug Frederickson, who has been a Minuteman Press franchise owner for twenty-eight years. Minuteman Press, North Vancouver is Doug’s third location; he also owns Minuteman Press in Surrey and Campbell Heights, B.C.
On the purchase of the business, Doug Frederickson says, “Bob and Dave have been in business for over forty-one years with good reason. During that time, they have built a tremendous, loyal following of customers by treating them right and providing outstanding quality and service. I’ve been working with them closely on the acquisition and now the transition, and I am excited to build on their legacy.
“I am also excited to introduce new products such as apparel, promotional items, and signage, to go along with all of the printing and mailing services.”
History of the Business
Contact Printing was first started by Bob Gibson and his father Jim in 1981. Bob shares, “The impetus for the business was that Jim had a direct mail business and was getting his printing done around town. I worked at a print shop at the time and my boss kept missing deadlines and just wasn’t getting the job done. With my dad as the driving force, we decided to do it on our own and open up our own business.”
Like many print shops at the time, Contact Printing was an instant/quick printer. They also specialized in direct mail thanks to Jim’s experience, and then built up their colour-printing business as well. “We were able to stand out simply by getting the job done right, and fast,” notes Bob.
When Jim retired in 1988, Bob enlisted the help of his high school friend Dave Brown. Dave agreed to join the business even though he did not have any experience with the printing industry.
“Bob and I were friends, and he convinced me to take the leap and join him,” says Dave. “My background is actually in kinesiology, so it was definitely an adjustment. Here we are thirty-five years later, and we are still friends and business partners.”
While Bob worked on the production side, Dave worked on the sales side. “It always helped that we brought different skills to the business and let each other do what we needed,” says Dave.
Evolution of Printing
As the printing industry evolved, so did Contact Printing. Bob shares, “Over the years, we were always quick to embrace new technology. About twelve to fifteen years ago, we switched over to digital printing along with hybrid technology, while keeping up with the latest trends for color-printing and direct mail. We always stayed up to date and today we do what we’ve always done, which is provide high quality products and fast turnarounds for our clients.”
Today, after forty-one years as a large, successful print operation, Contact Printing remains in great shape as the business transitions to Minuteman Press, North Vancouver. Dave shares, “As a Canada Post partner, mailing is one of our key specialties and growth areas. Real estate printing is also big for us, along with our fulfilment capabilities that enable us to print and ship on demand. We are known as a one-stop shop, with printing, mailing, and shipping all being done right and on time.”
Exit Strategy & Selling the Business
With retirement on the horizon, it was time for Bob and Dave to think about their exit strategy and look at selling the business. Bob says, “About a year and a half ago, we engaged a business broker to come evaluate the business. The biggest issue we ran into is that the broker didn’t really know the printing industry. He wasn’t thinking about who could buy and then actually run the business, so we did not find a buyer and the broker deal fell through.”
At the same time Bob and Dave were leaving the broker behind, they received a letter from Neil MacLeod, Minuteman Press International Regional Vice President for Western Canada. This was actually the second time they had heard from Neil.
Dave explains, “Two and a half years ago, before the broker, we actually met with Neil for coffee after receiving his first letter. He suggested that Minuteman Press would be interested in helping us sell the business. At the time, we weren’t ready to sell.
“When the broker deal fell through and we received Neil’s second letter, it reminded me that we had met previously and so I gave him another call. This was in December of 2021. Here we are nine months later in August of 2022, and the sale of our business has now been completed.”
Because Minuteman Press International offers training and ongoing local support, they can attract a wide pool of buyers. Neil MacLeod shares, “Once Dave and Bob decided to work with us, I immediately went to work to help them find qualified buyers and facilitate the sale of Contact Printing.
“As it turns out, Doug Frederickson, who is already an experienced multi-unit Minuteman Press owner, expressed interest to me in expanding with another location in North Vancouver. I arranged for Doug to meet with Bob and Dave, and everything came together. Not only did Doug buy the business, he also purchased the building, further securing Bob and Dave’s exit strategy.
“I wouldn’t have known that Bob and Dave were selling their business if it wasn’t for Neil MacLeod. After speaking with Neil, I met up with Bob and Dave and everything just clicked. I saw that the way they ran their business for forty-one years was very similar to how I’ve run mine for twenty-eight years. They were very cordial and it has been great learning about Contact Printing’s history and working with them on a smooth transition to Minuteman Press, North Vancouver.”
Reflections & Advice for Others
When reviewing and reflecting on the sale, Bob says, “The whole Minuteman Press process was much easier that I realized it was going to be. There was a free evaluation and no commissions. While there was work to be done to get to the point of the sale, I felt we were working towards the same goal of selling the business to the right buyer and the right price.”
Dave adds, “Generally, this was a pretty seamless process. We are really happy with the way things went, and Minuteman Press made it easier to sell our business. We know it will be in great hands with Doug Frederickson.”
What’s next for Bob and Dave? “Retirement,” they both say.
Bob reflects, “We love our community and everyone here is very close. We are really pulling for Doug and we will make the transition as seamless as possible.”