Mike Cutler started selling print out of his garage in 1996, and over the next 25 years, he built a successful printing business that averaged over $1 million in gross sales over the past five years. Cutler shares his experience in attempting to sell his independent printing company Custom Printing, based in Nampa, Idaho, on his own for six to eight months and how Minuteman Press International was able to step in to help him successfully sell the business.
Custom Printing history
Cutler says, “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). By 2006, we out-grew the original location and expanded to a 6,000 square-foot 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.”
In 2015 the business saw even more expansion with an 8,200-square-foot space. When the pandemic hit, Cutler says his business did well and actually hit record sales as an essential business.
He adds, “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.”
Selling Custom Printing
By June 2020, Cutler decided it was time to sell Custom Printing. He was asking around, getting in touch with colleagues and people he knew.
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% off the top of the sale, and they also wanted a percentage of my lease agreement.”
After experiencing selling challenges, he employed Minuteman Press International for help selling his business.
“One of the franchisees I knew locally in Idaho referred me to Chris Jutt, Minuteman Press International regional vice president. 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,” explains Cutler.
Before selling his business, Cutler ensured his finances were in order, kept up on machine maintenance, and grew his business.
“We set a price for my independent printing business that was significantly higher than I anticipated, and Chris Jutt recommended some terms. Within one week, I had several very interested parties. Chris found the perfect people to purchase my business – James and Sheryl Wisler – that will continue what I started some 25 years ago,” says Cutler.
After the sale of his business, Cutler was a little wary about how the transition would go. However, he says, Minuteman took over to teach and train the Wislers. Cutler came to the realization his staff and his business would be “taken care of.”
Advice for other sellers
When asked what advice Cutler could give to other print shop owners looking to sell, he says, “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.”