Mike Cutler started selling print out of his garage in 1996. Over the next twenty-five years, Cutler built a successful printing business that averaged over $1 million in gross sales over the past five years.
“Custom Printing was a true family business I built from the ground up. I learned the printing trade through my father, who was a line and typesetter dating back to the 1950s. After starting the business in 1996, I quickly out-grew my garage and opened my first retail location in 1998. At the time, my specialties were thermography, offset printing, and stationery (envelopes and forms),” he says. “By 2006, we out-grew the original location and expanded to a 6,000 sq. ft. facility. Between 2006 and 2014, I completed eight acquisitions to expand my business. The companies I acquired were in the areas of large format printing and signs, lithography, trophies, and reprographics.”
Cutler continues, “In 2015, we expanded even more, giving us 8,200 square feet of space to work with. When the pandemic hit in 2020, we actually excelled and recorded our biggest sales year operating as an essential business. At the time of the sale, we had nine full-time employees and some part-time staff. Our five-year average was $1.2 million in yearly sales.”
By June 2020, Cutler decided that it was time to sell Custom Printing.
At first, he was asking different colleagues and people he knew. However, Cutler quickly realized that this wasn’t going to be easy. He says, “I tried to sell the business that I worked so hard to build for six to eight months on my own. I was also preparing to let it go at a very undervalued price as I couldn’t find the right people to buy the business and I found many of them were time-wasters and tire-kickers.
“On top of that, when I consulted with a business broker, they were asking me for 10 percent off the top of the sale, and they also wanted a percentage of my lease agreement.”
After experiencing these challenges on his own, Cutler turned to Minuteman Press International to help sell his printing business.
“One of the franchisees I knew locally in Idaho referred me to Chris Jutt, Minuteman Press International Regional Vice President,” says Cutler. “After our first phone call, I felt confident that Chris had the ability, drive, and connections to make this dream a reality for me.
“Our meetings were always super easy going and comfortable. Chris took all the pressure off of me and said to focus on my successful business and he would do the rest. That is just what he did.”
Before meeting with Minuteman Press International, Cutler even went as far as to get a professional valuation of his printing business.
He shares, “When I knew I was going to be selling, I made sure to get the shop ready. I made sure my financials were in proper order, I kept up with equipment maintenance and repairs, and I kept running and growing my business. Just to get a valuation of my business, I spent $3,000 to get it done professionally. Minuteman Press International did this for free and came up with the same number. That really impressed me and reassured me that the sale of Custom Printing was in capable hands.”
Cutler says that they set a price for his independent printing business that was significantly higher than he anticipated and that Jutt recommended some terms.
“Within one week, I had several very interested parties,” says Cutler. “[Jutt] found the perfect people to purchase my business—James and Sheryl Wisler—that will continue what I started some twenty-five years ago. Minuteman Press International knew that the most important things to me were my long-term employees, my clients, and the reputation I had worked so hard to build.
“[Jutt] found buyers that valued the same things. He and the entire team at Minuteman Press International delivered on all of my expectations and exceeded in most of them. Looking back, if I knew this was going to be this easy, I would have contacted him years ago.”
After the sale of his business, Cutler quickly realized how beneficial it was to have the team at Minuteman Press International assist with all aspects of the transition to the new owners.
He shares, “At first, I was apprehensive about how the transition would go. I was immediately relieved when I saw how Minuteman Press International took the reins to teach and train James and Sheryl. We are only two and a half weeks into the transition phase, and already I feel like I am not needed as much as I thought I would be. My employees are in great hands, my clients are being taken care of, and James and Sheryl are doing a fantastic job.
“The entire team both here locally and at their corporate headquarters has been phenomenal. No matter who I’ve talked to or worked with during this entire process, everyone has been professional as well as instrumental in making this happen. It’s a win-win situation all around.”
When asked what advice he would give to other print shop owners looking to sell, Cutler answers, “Don’t even waste your time trying to do this yourself. When you try to sell on your own, there are so many bottleneck issues and you will likely undervalue your business. I couldn’t find the right buyers on my own and I had to spend too much time to meet with people repeatedly while still running my own business.
“Minuteman Press International alleviated the bottlenecks and came forward with qualified buyers who were ready to write the check for the right price. I am 100 percent satisfied beyond my expectations. This was a total team effort by everyone, and they all came through for me.”