Nation’s Leading Printing and Graphics Franchise Celebrates SpeedPro Owner Mark Simmons for Valuing Customer Relationships and Building a Robust Internship Program with Local High School
“Never stop learning, because life never stops teaching.” That inspirational quote applies to Mark Simmons, one of the newest SpeedPro Imaging franchise owners. Mark joined the nation’s leading printing and graphics franchise after spending more than 30 years in retail executive management, learning the ropes and learning how to deal with the ups and downs.
Mark learned the value of relationships early in his career and it factors into his early success as a relatively new SpeedPro Imaging studio owner. The studio in Apex, NC, a blossoming business and homeowner suburb of Raleigh, opened its doors in July 2016. Mark is capitalizing on the network he built during his career to leverage new connections and business. That includes substantial work with American Airlines, Leith VW of Cary, Leith Automotive Group, Coca-Cola, and premier homebuilder Royal Oaks Homes.
One of Simmons toughest professional lessons came during The Great Recession when he oversaw chapter 11 bankruptcy proceedings at a national retailer. Mark had to deliver unwelcome news about job cuts to a countless number of employees. While there is no joy out of being the bearer of a major life change, the process reinforced Mark’s values of compassion and relationship building.
As Mark nurtures his budding SpeedPro Imaging business, he recognizes the value of building relationships with members of his community in Apex – something other SpeedPro franchise owners have told him is the key to success with the nation’s leading printing and graphics franchise. Mark is a member of the Apex rotary club, has joined two local chambers, and supports several non-profits in the area. He also works with a crisis ministry in the county, where they provide food for the needy, and donates signage to the program.
That’s a lot of time and effort spent on relationship building and giving back…but Mark says it’s been the key to his success as he is more than doubling expected volume levels in his first full year (check out this recent blog post to see how one SpeedPro Imaging owner, Bruce Benson, made more than $750,000 in a single month!).
“I love the area,” says Mark, a Syracuse, NY native. “The Triangle (Raleigh-Durham-Chapel Hill) is a wonderful place to live and raise a family. With more than a million residents, and more being added every day, it’s also a booming market to grow a business. There’s so much development all around the city, allowing me to make connections for clients in need for graphic and signage solutions.”
But Mark’s relationship-building focus only begins with potential community clients and business partners. The connection extends to the local high school, Apex Friendship. The school is home to the Academy of Engineering and Advanced Manufacturing. The selective AP level program gives student exposure to hands-on experiences within STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics). It’s a program his daughter Kailea, a student at Apex Friendship, takes part in. When Mark learned the school was looking to partner with local businesses for an internship program, he jumped at the chance.
“School leaders do an excellent job building relationships with local businesses, small and large. SpeedPro Imaging has a commitment to community, and the high schools are a major part of the community here in Apex. It was an absolute no-brainer when I was approached to take part in this initiative.”
The students had to earn their way into his SpeedPro Imaging studio. He interviewed 4 candidates, each with unique traits. Mark ultimately chose a rising senior with a 3.7 GPA, interested in aerospace and automotive design. “His resume was polished, he was very accomplished. I was impressed by his maturity after our interview.”
While internships are typically associated with college students, ambitious high schoolers are gradually learning the importance of the work experience. The Society for Human Resource Management says both employers, and students benefit from high school internships. “By employing students, companies get exposure to talent early in their career journey and help support the well-being of the local community,” says Robin D. Richards, chairman, and CEO of Internships.com.
The student will assume a production assistant role at the SpeedPro Imaging studio – learning exactly what it takes to work for the nation’s leading printing and graphics franchise. Day-to-day functions include handling the printing and finishing processes, along with exposure to graphic design. Once the intern is comfortable, he’ll have the ability for some level of customer interaction, both inside and outside the facility. The program is only seven weeks, but Mark believes this opportunity will be a win-win-win for the student, SpeedPro employees, and Mark himself.
“For the student, who is only 17, he’ll get hands-on exposure and experience in the design aspect that he simply would not get in school,” says Simmons. “This is an opportunity for him to implement classroom observation into real life scenarios and learn the ins and outs of a local small business and manufacturer. He’ll be exposed to real world scenarios in a pressurized position that mirrors what it’s truly like to be a production assistant – something that rarely happens with internships.”
From a business perspective, involvement with this internship program serves as an informational session for Simmons. Later this year, he’ll use the lessons learned from the experience with his intern, as a blueprint when he hires a full-time production assistant. Simmons gets to test drive the position, without any of the associated labor costs.
“My whole team is excited because we get a chance to mentor an outstanding young man with a bright future. This internship program gives everyone at my SpeedPro studio, including myself, the opportunity to grow and develop. This is a rare opportunity for my employees to receive help from a highly motivated and intelligent intern who possesses skills that have real world impact. Additionally, all of us will develop a better understanding of how to hire and what to look for in new employees while refining our delegation and training processes. We can’t wait to get started.”
Mark and his team are excited about the upcoming summer lesson. He believes this venture is the start of a long-term relationship with Apex Friendship High School long after his daughter graduates. And Mark is thrilled his neighbors in Apex embraced him as much as he and his SpeedPro Imaging studio continues its growth.
Great Gatsby Prints for the school’s Prom
SpeedPro Imaging franchisees across the country are doing their part of cultivating America’s brightest minds with a meaningful opportunity. A specific focus on hiring and developing hungry and passionate employees is one of the key catalysts that have fueled SpeedPro’s development into the nation’s leading printing and graphics franchise that specializes in:
- Banners, Decals, Digital Signage, Directional Signage, Elevator Wraps
- Event Graphics, Event Tents, Flags, Fleet Wraps, Floor Graphics
- Indoor Signage, Outdoor Signage, Point of Purchase Displays
- Retractors, Signs & Graphics, Table Coverings & Table-toppers
- Trade Show Displays, Vehicle Wraps, Wall Murals, Window Graphics
For more information on the SpeedPro Imaging franchise opportunity and what it takes to be a successful franchise owner like Mark, please visit http://www.speedprofranchising.com/.