Michael Levy, owner of Minuteman Press in Levittown, says his bread and butter, the pressure required for special events like flyers, programs and tickets, has all but disappeared with the outbreak of the pandemic.
In addition to printing, Minuteman creates design, marketing and promotional items, but in March 2020 when things were shut down – including many customers – he needed a Plan B.
“I wasn’t sure my business was considered material, but I knew health-care companies were,” Levy said.
One of his customers is a hospital. He answered with a suggestion. If he made face shields and donated them to the hospital, would they give him an order? The hospital agreed. He says the hospital’s order made his company “imperative”. That kept the doors open. He was soon receiving emails from manufacturers telling him they could get him masks and disinfectant. “This wasn’t my business, but our biggest customer is a home care franchise company,” says Levy.
He had a lightbulb moment with the idea of offering them personalized masks and hand sanitizers (credit card-sized bottles and sprays) for distribution to their employees who needed them to do their jobs safely.
Levy shares how this move kept Minuteman in business.
How have you progressed beyond your existing home health care customer?
Get the Biz Briefing Newsletter!
The latest LI business news in your inbox Monday through Friday.
With the snap of a finger it became known, and the orders came so quickly that I couldn’t keep up. We have sold approximately 100,000 personalized hand sanitizers and over 50,000 personalized masks.
What was the roll call?
It was difficult to get hand sanitizer and masks in the early days of the pandemic. For hospitals and other organizations, this was an opportunity to offer a promotional item with their logo on it that was needed at a crucial time. It was an ideal gift.
Do you still sell the personalized masks and disinfectants?
Yes, we are, but not as much as before. You helped us get through this difficult time. While COVID has harmed most of my customers, due to these sales we only fell 5% in 2020.
How’s business going now?
Screen printing and other parts of the business have returned to normal a bit. But the print business is back at around 75 percent. The number of events is no longer what it used to be, so there is less customer demand for printing for events. But so far 2021 is about 5% up on the previous year. I hope to get close to our normal earnings.
What do you think when you look back over the past 18 months?
I feel good that we donated over 700 face shields to hospitals and doctors. We did a GoFundMe and bought two more 3D printers to meet demand. I enjoyed all of the family time with my 32 year old wife and my three grown children. As for business, I’ve confirmed what I already knew. Business cannot sit still. You can’t wait to see how things play out. You have to be ready to adapt. When part of your business goes down, you need to be able to do something else.
How do you see the future?
Optimistic. When I bought the Levittown store eight years ago, I never thought I’d have a second one. In June I bought another Minuteman in Farmingdale. The owner is a friend and we had planned that I would buy the shop when he retired. I went ahead. It’s a challenge to lead both at the moment, but things are getting different, better.
By Sheryl Nance-Nash