There are those whose professional path takes a circuitous route as they jump from company to company in their climb up the proverbial career ladder. By the time they reach the corner office, it’s hard to even pinpoint where or how it all began, yet alone keep track of all the companies they worked for.
Not so for Andrew Hrywnak, President of Print Three Franchising Corporation. Even as a young student, it was always Hrywnak’s goal in life to become a business leader. He knew he wanted to reach a senior executive position with a successful company, or possibly even do something entrepreneurial. He just didn’t know where.
The ‘where’ ended up being Print Three, a successful B2B printing franchise in Canada. Soon after graduating, Hrywnak joined the family-owned business as a support representative, and he never left. Today, he holds the company’s top executive position. “In this day and age, it’s very rare that someone stays with one company for so long,” notes Hrywnak. “But I really enjoy the business. I like the challenges and I like where it’s taken me.”
Like many Canadians of his generation, Hrywnak is a child of immigrants: his parents escaped war and destruction in their native Ukraine to seek a better life for themselves and their future family in Canada. They came with nothing in their pockets, and no English language skills to speak of. Yet through hard work and determination – his father worked as a labourer, then foreman, at General Motors – they were able to build a rewarding and prosperous new life.
One senses this same measured and consistent work ethic in Hrywnak as he describes his steady career climb at Print Three. Through hard work and determination, combined with a healthy dose of ambition, Hrywnak has risen to the top of his field. Today, he’s recognized as one of the 50 most influential Canadians in the printing field. “I have a strong drive in whatever it is I’m doing,” he explains. “I work at 110 per cent, backed with a strong passion.”
Hrywnak learned the industry from the ground up, starting with his first job supporting 15 franchisees in the Print Three network. “I was responsible for helping them achieve their sales levels, both from an operational and a marketing aspect,” he explains.
It wasn’t long, however, before Hrywnak got a more hands-on lesson in franchising, when he was asked to manage a Print Three franchise in Ottawa after the owner fell ill and, sadly, died. For eight months, the young Hrywnak took on all of the managerial responsibilities at the operation, from sales, to hiring staff, to marketing the business. He was, as the saying goes, plunged into the deep end. “It was the best training I could ever have had,” says Hrywnak of his eight-month tenure filling the role of franchisee. ”I was still in my mid-20s, and it gave me a new respect and understanding of what franchisees and business owners go through.”
The biggest lesson, says Hrywnak, was the importance of putting together a great team, which he views as the foundation of any successful business. It’s a lesson that has stayed with Hrywnak to this day, and one he puts to good use in his current position. “If staff didn’t show up, then I had to step into the production side of things instead of managing the business, and that’s when I realized the importance of having a good team,” he explains. “A great staff allows business owners to do what they need to do, and to set the direction of the business. Look at any successful franchise owner, and you’ll see they have that team and that reliability in their day-to-day work.”
In fact, when commenting on the extraordinary success of the Print Three brand, Hrywnak emphasizes the importance of that positive, productive relationship between franchisor and franchisee. “It’s about bringing that relationship forward and building on it all the way down to the customer level,” he says. “We take pride in that team effort. Everyone is jumping on the same bandwagon and going down the same path.”
Concerning his own career path, Hrywnak moved into increasingly senior positions at Print Three, including a decade as Vice President of Operations across North America, and, for the past 12 years, President. (While Print Three used to have franchises in the U.S., it has since offloaded its operations there, and they now operate as independents under the same brand name.)
While some may wonder about a certain apathy setting in after such a long haul at the same company, Hrywnak’s enthusiasm for Print Three and the printing industry hasn’t waned a bit. On the contrary, there’s been so much change and evolution in the printing field over the years that it’s remained a constant and invigorating challenge. An industry once focused on hardware is now powered by cutting-edge technology, resulting in endless opportunity.
Thanks to this technology, Print Three offers a myriad of targeted marketing services that go far beyond just printing up a corporate brochure or poster. “We’re making documents that are more relevant for customers, and providing feedback in terms of getting results from those documents,” says Hrywnak.
The company’s current service offering includes website development and online marketing (through a partnership with Australian web-developer Bloomtools) as well as direct mail and web-to-print services. With about 50 franchises in operation in all but four provinces, the brand is now looking to expand its network. In particular, it’s focusing on finding and converting existing independent print shops into Print Three operations.
“We’re looking at marrying them with a franchisee so the franchisee can start a business that is already profitable, as opposed to starting from scratch,” says Hrywnak. “We’re putting a prospective franchisee in touch with the owner so they can work out the purchase, then Print Three will help them grow from that profitable position to an even more profitable position.” The company already completed its first two conversions, in Barrie and Guelph, Ontario, this year.
While a print background isn’t required to become a Print Three franchisee – extensive training is provided – an entrepreneurial bent and a good rapport with people most certainly is. “You don’t have to have a print background, but you do have to come in with an entrepreneurial spirit,” stresses Hrywnak. “We have accountants, we have engineers – we have people from all sorts of different walks of life. More and more, we’re seeing people who have received buyouts from their work, but are too young to retire. So they’re getting their own business.”
There are also many long-time Print Three franchisees bringing family members into the fold – a testament to both the brand’s business potential, as well as the positive team-oriented work environment at the company. “We have so many owners who have been with us for over 25 years who are now bringing their family into the business, and they’re doing that because they love the business,” says Hrywnak. “You’re truly an individual entrepreneur, but you also have the support of the Print Three brand, as well as the affiliate companies, to help you achieve the goals you want to achieve.”
Also worth mentioning is that you have Hrywnak, with decades of Print Three experience under his belt, leading the way.
By Roma Ihnatowycz