When Jimmy and Judy Brumley were newlyweds, they were both looking for new jobs.
Jimmy Brumley went to PIP Printing in Greensboro to make copies of his résumé. There, he saw a flier touting the benefits of becoming the owner of a PIP franchise. Soon after, he and Judy opened Burlington’s first Postal Instant Press location on Shadowbrook Drive.
That was 35 years ago this month.
Back then, the shop printed in mostly black and white and mostly printed business cards, stationery and the like.
How things have changed. PIP Triad now has its imprint from Raleigh to Winston-Salem. It also added a full-service marketing division, as well as promotional product and signage divisions.
And the Brumleys bought the Greensboro franchise — the same one that Jimmy visited 35 years ago.
“To be honest with you, we look at each other and say, ‘How did this happen?’” Judy said. “It seems like yesterday that we started the business. We laugh at the simple mistakes we made, and how we would never see the light of day because we worked from sunrise to sunset. The work has definitely paid off.”
Indeed, PIP Triad ranks in the top 10 in sales through the entire PIP company, which has about 550 locations nationwide.
PIP Triad has a roster of prominent clients, ranging from Alamance Regional Medical Center to Wake Forest University. And while print sales have declined since 2008, the business itself has thrived because it has evolved into expanding its signage business, Jimmy said.
And yes, direct mail is still a very lucrative business, Jimmy said.
“If you get a well-positioned direct mail piece, you have someone’s attention for half a minute,” he said. “If you send an email, you have someone’s attention for five seconds.”
In 1992, PIP moved the business to Chapel Hill Road before settling into its large space at 825 S. Main St. in 2007, in the former Coca-Cola bottling company building. The company now has 15 employees, three of whom are who Judy calls their “sparrows”: they worked for PIP in the past, left and then returned to the PIP nest.
She and Jimmy credit present and past employees for the company’s success.
“We learned to hire people in fields that we aren’t expert in because they are, and trust the others to do their part and let us guide them along as needed.” Judy said. “Once you find your key people, you have to learn to trust them and step away. And lo and behold, they do a whole lot better than Jimmy and I ever could.”
Reporter Bill Cresenzo can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 336-506-3041. Follow him on Twitter at @BillCresenzoTN.