During the COVID-19 pandemic, local business owners like Pam and Bill Joles of the International Minute Press printing franchise in Gastonia have worked hard to adapt and serve their communities.
For Pam and Bill, orders from clients did not disappear, and their full-service design, printing, and marketing center has remained open throughout the pandemic. Their attitude has helped lift other businesses that depend on them.
Pam says, “We prepared ourselves for anything during this unpredictable time. We don’t have a big team, but we talk every day about area challenges and solutions, finding new ways to keep COVID-19 guidelines respected and orders coming in for as many as trust us with what they need.”
Regarding the financial side of the business, Pam says, “I stayed on top of accounts receivable to keep money flowing and wisely use what we had in terms of emergency funds. We cut expenses right away, taking advice from our regional vice president David Walton by eliminating third-party social media. We can do a great job by ourselves, and by doing so, saved money and sharpened up new tools to pass on to our customers.”
International Minute Press in Gastonia helped fulfill a big rush order from local schools for thousands of educational packages. It was the defining moment for their business and showed how essential printing could be for the local community.
“Everything was shutting down when the school system came to us and told us, on a Saturday morning, they needed educational packages together by Monday,” explains Pam.
Her team worked back to back 12-hour weekend shifts, and by Monday morning, thousands of packages were ready on behalf of area children.
“Supplying our school system immediately was probably our defining moment during this pandemic,” Pam adds.
Pam also signed up with Reboot, Recover, Rebuild, and is listed under “marketing services” in Gaston County.
“It’s known as the R3 Program and is funded by a North Carolina state grant through community colleges. We are providing marketing strategy counseling so small business owners can get their products and services out in the marketplace, starting with branded door hangers, EDDM, rack cards, flyers, coupons, and brochures,” Pam explains. “It doesn’t pay a lot, but we are building ties by getting to know new people and adding more all the time. I advise people to sign up for R3 for their own savings if they call us first. Then, we help them build up their business strategy right away.”
She notes that face masks, shields, and gloves will be around within the apparel realm for quite a while, making them great promotional pieces for businesses and organizations to purchase.
“We are following government guidelines and even looking ahead on behalf of the people in their area. We will be making customized labels using our dye-sublimation machines and wide-format printers to create face shields,” says Pam. “As always, we will meet every order with value and speed during this transition time. Things will be different for a while, but things will get back to normal as far as what truly matters.”