After 24 years of friendship, Dean Martin and Tracy Johnson discovered they had a common goal – to become business owners. The pair met while Dean was a sales representative making the rounds at an area manufacturing plant where Tracy worked. “We had a strong friendship, trusted each other completely, and knew the time was right for a change,” says Dean Martin.
They had been searching for over a year when MultiPrint, a Tulsa-based print company with an outstanding reputation, came on the market. Dean developed a business plan, and the pair started shopping for financing. First, they went to the bank that was serving MultiPrint’s account, and were turned down. “Neither of us had a working knowledge of the print industry,” says Tracy. “We looked into SBA loans, and were told that we did not have the print industry experience they wanted to see,” adds Dean.
Dean and Tracy were determined not to get discouraged when they were referred to the staff at the Oklahoma Small Business Development Center. “We needed a bank that would think like we were thinking,” said Dean. John Blue, an OKSBDC Business Advisor, had knowledge of area banks that might consider the venture. “He set up an appointment with Oklahoma National Bank, and took us right to the bank. He was the guy that helped make it happen.”
With their own saving as equity, Dean and Tracy were approved for a $512,000 loan, and they purchased the business in May of 2004. “John saw us through the process and helped us get everything ready,” says Dean. “MultiPrint had a proven track record and outstanding employees which has made a big difference,” says Dean. “We’ve been able to meet all our projections and grow the business just the way we intended.” Plans for 2005 include new equipment that will improve their print capabilities. “We will be going digital this year. We specialize in book printing and digital is the way to go.” Future strategies include additional outside sales staff and an internet site.
“The biggest surprise was the 16 hour days. New business owners need to be prepared to work long and hard to succeed. Don’t give up and stay the course,” says Dean, “John comes by at least once a month to check on things and to remind us that the OKSBDC is always there to help.”
“Buying our own business has truly been very exciting. The OKSBDC was great. They helped us grow and nurture our dream,” says Tracy.