EIEASpeechFrom diesel mechanic to entrepreneur – that’s the road Garry Conley took to becoming a Minuteman Press franchise owner. It may seem unexpected to some, but that’s what is great about entrepreneurism. There is no set path to success.

And Conley’s success has been realized through growth in his Minuteman Press franchise in London as well as his recent honor of receiving the 2015 Excellence in Entrepreneurship Award in the for-profit category.

Conley has seen his business grow from three employees when he started in 2004 to a staff of eight and his plans for growth continue.

“We went from one offset press to being able to do so much now, from digital printing and direct mail to promotional products,” Conley said. “We create complete marketing plans that help our clients get the most out of their promotional products campaigns.

“Our immediate plan is to continue to market, add employees and services and probably a second shift. We want to become a Million Dollar store. Only 10 percent of the businesses in our market reach the million dollar annual sales threshold, and we are knocking on the door right now. We are also toying with the possibility of opening a second location in another city.”

Some entrepreneurs are made by choice, others by necessity. With Conley, it was a little of both. He knew in high school that he wanted to be an entrepreneur but didn’t take the plunge until frustration with his job and employer made him rethink his career path.
“I have always wanted to own my own business and chart my own destiny,” Conley said. “When I was 8 years old, I ordered assorted greeting cards out of Boys Life magazine and sold them door to door. I did not know it at the time, but I was a capitalist and proud of it. I started selling newspapers when I was 10. I bought my own bicycle, paid for my own repairs, bought a motorcycle at 15, a car at 16 and paid my own way through the Nashville Auto Diesel College. I enjoy being around people and helping them solve their problems.  In high school, I thought I would own a diesel shop. Even though that never happened, I never got away from the dream of being in business for myself.”
Conley turned to Kentucky Highlands Investment Corporation for help through its microloan program.

EIEA“KHIC has been instrumental in keeping our dream alive throughout the downturn in the economy,” Conley said. “In the beginning of 2008, we were having record-breaking sales, but by the end of the year, sales were cut almost in half, and we wondered what hit us. We kept thinking the next month would be better, but it was actually 16 months before we saw signs that the economy was improving. Having a microloan from KHIC made the difference between staying in business and closing the doors. They believed in our ability to service our customers and pay off the debt and that is the main reason we are still here today.”