Name: Sue Monhait.
Hometown: Highland Park.
Name of Business: The Ribbon Print Company
Describe what you do?
We sell a system that allows businesses and crafters to custom print ribbon onsite. The printer runs off a proprietary computer program designed and created by The Ribbon Print Company. We also sell consumables and services to go along with the program.
Our customers include gourmet and gift shops, event planners, craft and sewing stores, gift basket businesses, schools, churches, florists, scrapbook shops, stationery designers, award and sign businesses and more.
What sets you apart from similar businesses?
We are fortunate in that there are only a couple of other companies who attempt something similar. Those folks are equipment guys who really only know the hardware. We have experience using the printer for business and know how to incorporate ribbon printing into an existing company. That experience is priceless. In the industry, there is nobody that even comes close to our product quality and customer service. Many people can say that — we live it every day. Our entire focus is getting printers into the hands of customers and supporting their ability to add new profit centers to their business. I am very proud to say that we have literally made the difference with at least five stores (that I know of) staying open through this economic downturn.
What made you want to open this type of business?
After my corporate life, I started a successful gift basket business called Basket Thyme. It grew due to the fact that we could custom print ribbon — particularly for large businesses. I saw a huge void in the industry for a top quality customer-focused ribbon printing program. Since it didn't exist, I built it!
Why did you open in Highland Park?
We live here and it is simply the most beautiful town in all of the North Shore. I have an office in the historic downtown area and it is wonderful to go down to street level, walk down to the lake, or frequent our local coffee shops and restaurants when I need a break
What obstacles did you face when you started?
The single largest obstacle was getting the software created. Here's the detail on the software http://theribbonprintcompanyblog.com/2012/01/18/the-software-story/
Have you used any local government programs?
We are a global business, which is much different from my local basket business. I am currently the President of the HP Chamber of Commerce and, even though I'm not necessarily looking for business from the local community, I receive a lot back by being involved with the chamber. The local business community is where I go for referrals and resourcing new things that we offer. We just had hundreds of new parts made for the system. We also recently updated our website and promotional materials. These were all sourced locally.
What mistakes did you make and what did you do right?
Plan, plan, plan. My corporate life was in marketing/consulting – from boutique shops to companies such as Kohl's and McDonald's. Even as I consult with new ribbon print owners, the most important thing I tell them is to take the time before you start a business or open a store to PLAN. The plan should include what you offer as a business, the demographics of your ideal customer, a competitive analysis, a pricing structure and marketing plan, and financials, etc. Once you are open for business, it's way too late to create these effectively on the fly.
Local business owners who would like to be featured in TribLocal should email firstname.lastname@example.org.Copyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun