THUNDER BAY -- Bob Myers had always wanted to run his own business, so he took accounting while he looked around for business ideas. At the time, he had a friend who was attending the University of Toronto, who told him about a neat place called Kinko’s where people could use computers and do their printing, copying and binding. Myers liked the idea and decided to open a similar store in Thunder Bay to target the local college and university students.
Bob and his wife Miranda opened Print Pros Plus in 1994. “We had six computers; five PCs and one Mac that people could come in and use. We were the first place of its kind in Thunder Bay,” Bob says.
Customers started asking the Myers if they could print business cards and brochures, and eventually Print Pros Plus starting offering in-house printing. They branched out into T-shirts, mugs and personalized calendars, anything there was a demand for. “We have gone where our customers have taken us; we’re very responsive to our customers’ needs,” says Bob.
Print Pros Plus has been in its current location on May Street for over two decades, and its central location - and the Myers dedication - has helped keep the business busy.
“We used to live above,” Miranda gestures upstairs. “We were working and eating and sleeping and drinking Print Pros all the time,” Bob recalls. “The kids go to bed, and we go down to work for another couple of hours. We’d meet clients in the middle of the night - that’s the bad thing about living upstairs!”
Print Pros Plus employs four people, and are looking for more. Finding people experienced in printing can be challenging, the couple say. “The printing press, it’s kind of a dying industry. Trying to find people who want to do that is difficult,” explains Bob.
The company has been affected by online retail just like any other small business in town, but there are some benefits: “the only good thing about our industry is, people usually leave printing till the last minute, and you can’t do that online,” says Bob.
With more than a quarter century behind them, the Myers say that staying passionate about their business and keeping up with industry trends are their secrets to success.
“You can become a dinosaur very quickly in this industry, if you’re not keeping up with technology and offering new things. We’ve always done colour digital printing, it hasn’t really changed, but what changes is the quality and speed and what you can print on,” says Bob. “It’s being aware of what people are buying and what people are willing to pay for it. Knowing your market, knowing what to invest in, is important.”
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