After 35 years, three locations, and billions of items printed, Bob and Ruth Davidson can describe their decades at the helm of Minuteman Press in one word: Thankful.
“We thank God for this blessing,” Bob said, looking back at a run that saw many of their clients become friends, and their shop regularly landing among the top annual earners in a franchise of nearly 1000 stores.
The Davidsons retired in February, handing the keys to a new generation while keeping it in the family.
Their son and daughter-in-law Craig and Carolyn Davidson with longtime store manager Christopher Brown and his wife Lisa Brown recently renewed a 35-year franchise agreement with Minuteman Press as the Tigard shop’s new owners.
“I’ve survived four recessions and a pandemic,” Bob says, noting even during early COVID-19 shutdowns, they never stopped printing.
Through the years, Bob and Ruth have watched the industry transform with technology, moving from hand-delivering proofs to faxing to emailing. Their first computer was little more than a glorified adding machine and their early copiers only printed in black and white.
They’ve worked with so many other local businesses the Davidsons could not only offer a referral for anything from plumbing to legal counsel, but Bob jokes he can also tell you who pays their bills on time.
“We have so many friends that are our customers,” Ruth said. “And some of them have been our customers from the get-go.”
Those friendships are one of the sweetest payoffs for the giant leap of faith it took to trade the security of Bob’s full-time union job for the uncertainty of entrepreneurship at age 37.
Bob was a local Teamsters truck driver and Ruth a stay-at-home mom caretaking their two then-young children and managing the household when the couple decided to combine forces as business partners.
The couple found the perfect fit with Minutemen Press. The company’s organizational structure and the quickness to recognize a job well done were instantly appealing.
And with more than 900 stores, it’s the largest print chain on the planet, but like the Davidsons’ franchise, the company is family-owned and operated.
“One of my favorite things about Minuteman is they are a family-owned corporation, and they treat you as family,” Bob said. “We’re on a first-name basis with the past three presidents of the company. You just don’t really see that with a multimillion-dollar corporation.”
Within the Minuteman model, they not only survived, they thrived.
The Davidsons’ shop was in the black just months after opening in 1987 and Bob and Ruth became regulars at the company’s Million Dollar Meetings, a “President’s Club” reward trip for stores that gross over $1,000,000 in a year.
They split the responsibilities, just like their ownership, down the middle with Ruth running the office and overseeing the finishing work, and Bob handling sales and production.
“The good news (about working with your spouse) is you get to see a lot of each other, the bad news is you get to see a lot of each other,” he joked, before adding “It’s been good. You have someone you can absolutely trust and rely on.”
When it comes to pointing the key to their success, he puts his lists Ruth just below God.
“She has stood beside me as a full partner, and fully supported the decision to start our own business,” he said. “She worked just as hard as I did in the business every day.”
The couple commuted from Gresham for more than a decade before moving closer. Ruth counts that daily rush hour traffic slog as one of the bigger challenges in their run.
“I told him we’re either going to rent a place over here, build a house or I’m getting a divorce,” she laughed. They opted to build in nearby Sherwood.
“It was cheaper getting a divorce,” Bob quipped.
It wasn’t their only construction endeavor.
They also built and own Minuteman’s home at 7555 SW Hermosa Way, which also houses several other businesses.
Though they are officially retired, they’ll continue to manage their property and Bob says he looks forward to keeping his role as the building’s fix-it man.