In 2017, the SmartBiz® team had the pleasure of working with Andrew Magnus, the founder of BTC Envelopes and Printing, LLC®. Magnus secured an SBA loan from a SmartBiz bank partner to restructure high interest debt, upgrade his computer system, and hire a new employee.
We were excited to have the opportunity to speak with Magnus five years later, post-pandemic, to learn how his company was able to pivot and grow in an uncertain economy.
A Jamaican-born American citizen, Magnus completed high school at 15 years old and college at 19. His drive to succeed has helped him reach his personal goals and excel professionally.
After years of working for others in the printing and paper industry, Magnus went out on his own, founding BTC Envelopes and Printing®.
Here’s the story of how Magnus has proactively moved forward, expanding his business.
SmartBiz: How has business been since 2017?
Andrew Magnus: Our revenue was up 15 to 20 percent each year and we successfully got our name out there organically. Every year has been the best for BTC until 2020. We lost 50 percent of our revenue when all of our customers closed down due to the pandemic.
SB: How did you address the financial issues of such a large revenue loss?
AM: During the pandemic, 41% of black and brown-owned businesses went out of business and did not come back. I took every business opportunity to recover that came across my plate. We were starting to be late on rent, but thankfully our landlord gave us a break. To stay afloat, I borrowed against my death benefits insurance and cashed out a 401k. That kept us going and I didn’t have to lay anyone off because of borrowing from myself.
I was also able to qualify for two PPP loans. Additionally, through business contacts, I was connected with a Community Development Financial Institutions Fund (CDFI Fund) and was granted a $30,000 pandemic grant.
Although we lost income, our branding grew 85%. I looked for ways to make myself and my business better.
SB: The last time we spoke, you mentioned how you took the 2014 Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses™ 8-week course. Have you participated in other continuing education programs?
AM: During the pandemic, I basically went back to school. I filled out so many forms! I joined UPMC’s Supplier Diversity and Inclusion Program™ designed to support minority, woman-owned, and disadvantaged businesses. I completed their 8-week online course “How to Become a Better CEO”.
I also took the Initiative for a Competitive Inner City™ (ICIC) program, offering the know-how to achieve sustainable economic and job growth.
Additionally, I participated in the Omicelo Cares 7 Pillars of Sustainable Business™ Accelerator program. This was the 3rd party organization that provided the training for the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center (UPMC). Ultimately, the reward at the end of the program was that our website was updated, boosting our SEO at no cost to BTC.
SB: How have you expanded your business since we last spoke?
AM: The big news is that BTC acquired Imprints Unlimited Inc.®, a 30 year old, well-known, minority-owned Philadelphia company.
I purchased the business from one of my mentors. He was instrumental in elevating minority-owned businesses by pushing the city council, the mayor, and former United States Senator Arlen Specter, to make sure that businesses got into the hands of minority entrepreneurs. BTC and Imprints Unlimited moved into a large office space featuring big plate glass windows with a view of downtown Philadelphia in 2018. Because Imprints Unlimited® has existing customer contracts, we did not need to take on additional sales and promotions activities. The passive income was very helpful.
SB: You mentioned that your brand was strengthened in the past few years. How were you able to elevate your business?
AM: The Comcast RISE® program was created to invest in minority-owned businesses dealing with the ongoing impact of the pandemic, social unrest, and environmental events. They pledged to support 13,000 entrepreneurs nationwide by the end of 2022 and I was chosen early in the program. They helped me produce a 30-second commercial that’s pretty glossy and sharp and is ours to use. I picked five zip codes to target and lots of people saw the commercial. The ad even ran on MSNBC and CNN. I had some dark days and it was encouraging that when I was down in the dumps, my name and my business were being splashed across the TV.
Right at the end of the pandemic, a local television station came in and spent a few hours doing a video of our operations. In 2022 for Black History Month we were featured the whole month in 30 second clips. The University of Pennsylvania wanted to showcase minority vendors and we had a clip in their presentation.
SB: Where do you stand now?
AM: The last man standing syndrome is happening now and we’re doing well. In 2021 we regained all that we lost in 2020 and now things are really moving. All of the steps I took forced me to pick my head up and improve everything. The website is working well. We’re getting business from people we’ve never heard of as we’re popping up higher with SEO. My son works with me and that’s been great. The positives are really starting to show themselves as we work towards a million dollar benchmark.
SB: Thank you for your time. We’re so happy to have played a part in your successful journey. Best of luck to you and BTC.