Dictionary.com defines Irish as “of, relating to, or characteristic of Ireland, its inhabitants, or their language.” What is lacking are the intangibles that define the Irish-American spirit: tenacity, perseverance and a fight to never give up until the job is done.
James McGinnis encapsulates the Irish-American spirit that will be celebrated across the country this weekend on St. Patrick’s Day. James is the son of Patrick and Susan McGinnis, the proud owners of SpeedPro of Lenexa-Overland Park in the suburbs of Kansas City.
The McGinnis family will be active participants during the 46th annual Kansas City St. Patrick’s Day Parade. James will be featured on one of the participating floats in the parade. Patrick and Susan will be marching by the float’s side. The honor comes courtesy of a client of the McGinnis family’s SpeedPro studio.
Patrick and Susan McGinnis first joined on with SpeedPro, the nation’s leading large format graphics franchise, 12 years ago. Patrick was in management. Susan had experience with pharmaceutical sales before giving birth to her daughter, Megan, and then James four years later. When the children grew a little older, Susan took a job at a pre-school.
Patrick’s transition into entrepreneurship became clearer during an emotional conversation he had with a young Megan. “I remember she asked me if I liked James’ events better than I liked hers,” Patrick recalls. “She asked because my job had me on the road during the week. I would miss her events, but I was able to make James’ events on the weekends.”
That exchange laid the groundwork for major changes for Patrick and Susan. “I resigned shortly afterwards and gave myself six months to start a business,” Patrick said. “If it didn’t work out, I was going to get back in the corporate world.”
The pair chose SpeedPro because of the business-to-business, recession proof model and the flexible hours.
For the first six months of their business, Susan found herself working at her preschool during the day and at her SpeedPro studio during the afternoon. She found similarities between the two industries.
“When we first started out in 2006, many people weren’t educated on digital printing,” Susan says. “I found myself doing a lot of hand holding, teaching clients about the services we could provide.”
The pair says it took about two years of hard work to get their business on stable ground. “Networking and sales were a top priority during our launch,” says Susan.
“Our philosophy is that we don’t want the customer just for the first order,” says Patrick. “I want the second, third and fourth order. It’s harder to get a new customer than retain a new one. If you treat them right and live up to their quality of expectations, they’ll become the best sales person for your business.”
“A happy customer is the best sales rep you can have,” adds Susan.
Patrick and Susan say they have a great working relationship, in part because they rarely see one another during the day. “We’ve always been close, and we can resolve isSusans,” says Patrick, before quickly adding, “The main thing is to not share an office.”
“We have separate offices because he can’t handle the fact that I’m a talker,” Susan adds. “I talk to myself, I talk to the computer, I have cordial conversations with our clients. We know our differences and appreciate them.”
Patrick and Susan appreciate how being business owners gives them the ability to set their own schedules. That would never be more evident than in the fall of 2014. James suffered a traumatic brain injury during a high school football game. James spent months in a hospital in Lincoln, Nebraska, three and a half hours away from home. At least one parent was always by his side during that painstaking period.
“I look at the injury with our son, and it was a blessing we had our own business,” Patrick says. “Where we were, it allowed us flexibility that I wouldn’t have been afforded if I had been in a corporate environment.”
“My ability to be with James wouldn’t have happened without being a SpeedPro studio owner,” says Susan. “Even now during his physical therapy, I can go back and forth between working and being with James.”
The recovery for James continues today. He is enrolled in school classes, and earned a spot on the honor roll during the most recent semester. You’ll also find James joining Susan when she is making deliveries or hanging out at the SpeedPro studio, bringing his trademark smile and jokes to the office.
“I feel like the Irish spirit is to never give up, and that heritage lives strong in James,” says Patrick. “When the Irish first came to America, they were faced with several setbacks. They persevered. You’re going to be dealt with setbacks. But, we never step away from a fight. That’s the spirit I see in James. He never backs away from a fight. Not when he was growing up. Now we see it in his fight to regain normalcy. Failure is not an option.”
The fighting spirit that James displays is the same attitude Patrick and Susan apply to their business. “You have to put the work into it,” says Patrick. “It’s not a business you buy and sit back and collect a paycheck. You have to work.”
Connections forged through their SpeedPro studio have helped the recovery process. James has received V.I.P. status from the operators of the local NASCAR venue, the local professional hockey team, and the company playing host this St. Patrick’s Day.
Patrick and Susan work hard for themselves as well as their family. They’re in the process of writing a book with James, with the eventual goal of landing him on the speaking circuit. You can follow James’ journey as he educates and brings awareness to traumatic brain injuries on Facebook or his YouTube channel.
For more information on the SpeedPro franchise opportunity and what it takes to be a successful franchise owner like Patrick and Susan, please visit speedprofranchising.com.