The airline industry brought Paul Harris to the Triangle, but it was a passing interest in genealogy that prompted him to pursue a career in the printing business.
Harris, a pilot, flew commercial planes for decades. Shakeups in the industry meant he relocated more than once and faced the demise of several airlines.
In 1995, while he was flying for Midway, the airline relocated from Chicago to Raleigh. Harris, then a single father of two teenagers, came along.
“It was a good move,” he said. “This is a better area, in my opinion, to raise a family.”
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But after the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, Midway struggled and eventually went out of business. Harris did contract work internationally, but he longed for a job that kept him closer to home. He remarried in 2001.
“I could have found work, but it required me to be out of the country,” he said. “I had to find something else to do.
“The thought of finding a job other than flying at age 58 was petrifying.”
When he stumbled upon International Minute Press at a franchise show, his interest was piqued.
“When I was in Chicago, I developed an interest in genealogy,” he said. “I figured once I was done, I would want to publish it myself, but with total control.”
Experience putting together and publishing a church newsletter had given him insight into the printing business.
“When I saw Minute Press, there was a bit of attraction because I was familiar with the vernacular,” he said. “I had always been mystified by people who ran a business. I was intelligent enough to know I didn’t know anything about running a business and I needed help.”
He is pleased with the support he has received from the company.
“They provide all the support you need and want but will back off if that’s what you want,” Harris said. “I couldn’t have made a better choice.”
The change of career had unexpected benefits.
“When flying, my interactions were almost exclusively with people in the airline industry,” Harris said. “In this business, I get to interact with people who are doing a myriad of things. It is very interesting at this point in my life.”
Harris opened International Minute Press in Cary in 2006. He has seen a transformation in the industry.
“When we started, 80 percent of our business was done on the offset press. Now it is 95 percent digital,” he said.
“Our primary focus is on business printing, from the sole proprietor to corporations.”
His business has survived tough times, including the recession.
“We are careful to keep our costs very much in line,” he said. “And we are small enough and flexible enough to go with the changes. We were well positioned to go to digital.
“We’re not setting the world on fire, but we’re still here.”
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