Life Though I’ve successfully run my promotional products printing business, Lynnpro, for over a decade now, my first foray into screen printing was serendipitous. After a chance waterskiing encounter, I bought $1,000 of screen printing equipment from the parents of a kid I’d met on the water and talked them into including delivery and instructions on how it worked. My wife, Cheri, and I owned Angelo’s pizzeria at the time, and I thought that printing logos on T-shirts would be a fun way to make some extra money. I was half right. When the first job came in, I made $400 in 30 minutes, but I didn’t enjoy myself. Instead, I looked down at my blackened hands — a stain that didn’t come off nearly as easily as pizza sauce — and decided that screen printing just wasn’t for me. The universe disagreed. Not long after, a fire that started in a neighboring beauty salon spread to Angelo’s. We were underinsured, and with our income up in smoke and two kids to support, Cheri and I were willing to look at any alternative to stay afloat. Casting around for options, I remembered the printing equipment. While I hadn’t enjoyed printing, I knew it would be lucrative, so I dusted it off and hit the road to find customers. Those early days were hard. I told myself I had to make a minimum of 20 stops each day, and until I got those stops done and scored a job, I never turned the car around. Every morning, I packed my ride with a gallon of water and a sandwich, and I set off. Sometimes I would be out until 11 p.m. or even midnight, meeting a bar owner in a shady part of town to convince them to buy T-shirts or hats.
looked up, and, when they did, I had an entirely new outlook on printing. Cheri and I reopened the pizzeria, only to close it when we realized that the long hours there were keeping us from truly enjoying our lives. While giving up the six- figure income from Angelo’s may have seemed crazy, we knew it would be worth it. When Cheri joined me at Lynnpro full-time — we’d kept it running on the side — we almost immediately made up the money. Before she came on board, I’d have people there working until 8 or 9 p.m., but, with Cheri at the helm, we got just as much work done by 4 p.m. She’s Superwoman when it comes to organization; she survived breast cancer, and she even works as a CrossFit trainer. The moniker “ Lynnpro ” comes from her middle name because I figured that if my company had my wife’s name in it, then I couldn’t mess it up. A lot of guys can talk about getting stuff done, and a lot of them can get stuff done, but I’ve never met a guy who can get as much done as a determined woman.
That brings me to Lynnpro’s most valuable asset: my 15 employees, most of whom are women. Our company has grown a lot over the years. These days, we offer custom T-shirts, backpacks, mugs, lanyards, mousepads, and dozens of other items, but the most important improvement has been in our culture. In the beginning, I tried to make working at Lynnpro feel like a party, but I’ve since learned that isn’t what people want. They want steady income, to know their responsibilities, to take pride in what they do, and to gauge the results of their hard work. Making those things priorities sent our customer service through the roof, scoring us a 4.9-star rating on Facebook and 4.8 stars on Google. Cheri’s and my philosophy is simple: Live life; don’t just exist in it. We strive to keep our work hours reasonable; get outdoors; and spend time with our kids, Justin and Miranda, and our two wonderful grandsons. Every hat, sweatshirt, and thermos we sell is embedded with those values. –Jeff Saxby
The maxim “Do what you have to do” got me through that rough patch, but things eventually
“Cheri’s and my philosophy is simple: Live life; don’t just exist in it.”
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