By Saqib Tariq
My brother, my dad and I recently celebrated 13 years of jointly owning and operating our Minuteman Press International design, printing and marketing franchise in central Calgary’s Beltline region. We started out not knowing anything about the business, but with hard work, we’ve increased our revenue sufficiently to secure a position within the franchisor’s million-dollar circle.
I was born and raised in Dubai, U.A.E., where my dad, Tariq Choudhary, was general manager (GM) of an automotive showroom. There was a huge mix of cars he had to manage throughout the place.
My dad had grown up in a small village in Pakistan. It was not an easy life, but he made sure he adapted to changing times. He was all about moving forward and doing something better. He moved to Dubai soon after getting married and continued to support his whole family back in Pakistan. All that while raising a large family of his own!
I wanted to go into marketing or advertising when I grew up. At the age of 15, I started to learn about design by reading books and using Macromedia Flash, CorelDraw and Adobe Photoshop software.
My brother Faisal was the first of us to move out here. He studied chemical engineering in the U.S. before coming to Calgary to work for an oil and gas firm. Then he was able to sponsor us to come along, too.
That was 15 years ago. I was 18 at the time, having just finished high school, and I had been doing graphic design work since I was 16.
As I continued my studies in Calgary, I tried out computer science before switching to marketing and earning my Bachelor of Commerce (B.Comm) degree at the University of Calgary’s Haskayne School of Business.
A family venture
Shortly after my dad and I joined Faisal in Calgary, the three of us thought about going into business together. We soon ran across franchising opportunities with Minuteman.
Founded in 1973 by Roy Titus and his son Bob, Minuteman began franchising in 1975 and has since grown to more than 950 locations around the world. The system has evolved over the years to offer a broad range of business services, including branding, design, promotional products, branded apparel, direct mail marketing, large-format banners and posters, signs and graphics, among others.
For us, the appeal of Minuteman was its business-to-business (B2B) model, which meant we could operate at the normal office hours of 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. We would not be bound to rely on walk-in traffic that might happen to come our way. Rather, it would be up to us to develop relationships with other businesses and see how far we could go. There was a tremendous opportunity to expand and scale up the business.
Our choice to join the franchise system was based on several key factors, including the freedom to market the business the way we wanted, minimal intervention from the franchisor, growth potential, the freedom to choose vendors and suppliers and the franchisor’s capped royalty incentive program.
As we spoke to the franchisor, we found out there was an existing Minuteman location in downtown Calgary that was now ready for new ownership. The three of us had never worked together before, but we felt confident in taking on this venture with the franchisor’s support.