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Bob's Printing: Successful Family Business on Route 1

Business Profile

On April 1, 1979, Bob and Frances Beach hung out their shingle at 7808 Richmond Highway. It was actually a sign for Minuteman Press. After Bob retired from the Navy as Chief Storekeeper, he and his wife wanted to start a business. They decided on a Minuteman Press franchise.

Two years later, the Beaches got out of the franchise and it became known as Bob's Printing & Office Supplies. For almost 20 years, they worked out of that location, providing printing services and selling office supplies.

The Beach's son, Mike, joined the business in 1990. He suggested that they phase out the office supply part of the business and concentrate solely on printing. Bob Beach said that made sense because he was finding that customers could buy things at Staples and places like that for less than he could get them from the supplier. Mike also brought his computer expertise with him, and they were able to start formatting most of their jobs in-house. Prior to that, items had to be camera-ready or sent out to somebody else to format.

Another big change occurred in 1997. That's when the Beaches moved their business down Route 1 to their current location, 8403-D Richmond Highway. Mike said that this gave them more space for their printing presses.

WALK INTO THE SHOP and one would never realize the quality and quantity of printing that is done there. While Mike is literally glued to his computer, formatting and preparing jobs, he's never too busy to stop and discuss a new job with a customer, or just say 'hello.' And although Bob turned 80 in April, he and Frances come in everyday, as do their two dogs. They too, take time to visit with their customers as they come in.

"We have good friendships with everybody," said Mike.

Yet, somehow they get it all done.

"Whatever we can get done in 40 hours, we do," he said. "It's very infrequent that somebody has a deadline that we can't meet. Most of the time, customers are willing to wait. We may have to bump one job to complete somebody else's job, but it all works out in the end."

In the waiting area of Bob's, one wall contains samples of some of the printing jobs that Bob's has done over the years. Mount Vernon Lady's Association, Coldwell Banker, Ryan Homes, United Community Ministries (UCM), West Potomac High School, Delegate Kristen J. Amundson (D-44), Senator Linda "Toddy" Puller (D-36), Cain Security, GlobeNet—these are just a few of the people who use Bob's for their printing needs.

Maureen McGuire-Kuletz, co-chair for UCM's Capitol Steps, worked with Mike on the program for Capitol Steps and said, "I don't think people are aware what a generous contributor to the community he is. He is such a pleasure to work with. Such a positive, nice businessman, how lucky we are to have him in the Mount Vernon business community."

Bruce Valley has used Bob's for many years, both in his professional capacity with GlobeNet and with other associations. "Fifteen years of professional relationship that has blended into a friendship. I worked with them when I was commodore of the Mount Vernon Yacht Club and they've done all of GlobeNet's work for the past 13 years.

"Right now they're doing a variety of sports publications for the U.S. Naval Academy," said Valley, who is pleased with the way that the family has turned over the business from father to son.

"They have passed on the active leadership from Bob and Frances to Mike, and they're still getting things done to the same standard.

Valley recently asked Bob to copy some rare Big Band music that he wanted to preserve.

"They take on any challenge and whatever they say they can do, they do," said Valley. "We're all very fortunate to have them here."