Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Ron Fix and Snappy Print, keeping the family business alive

Ron Fix Jr. was just 5 years old when his dad, Ron Sr., opened the family business – Snappy Print. Ron worked at Snappy throughout his childhood years helping out with the cleaning and odds and ends. By the time he started working more full time hours in high school, he knew how to work every position and machine in the family print shop. Bindery, delivery, customer service, Ron Jr. was doing it all and really getting serious about his responsibilities.

Ron Sr. had done a great job at growing Snappy into one of the most successful, locally owned print shops in town with a focus on face to face relationships and helping their small business clients grow. His goal was to someday turn the family business over to his only son, Ron Jr. Ron never missed a day of work and he loved growing the family business. “He was infatuated with the business”, says Ron Jr., “even if there was 4 feet of snow on the ground and we were going to be closed for the day he would still find a way to make it in just in case someone came by or needed something.”

If Ron Sr. wasn’t at the office he was spending time with his wife, son, daughter-in-law and grandkids on family vacations or motorcycle rides. Even when they weren’t working together Ron Sr. and Ron Jr. still spent the majority of the time together. If you ask Ron Jr. about it, he’ll tell you “that’s just the kind of family we are.”

Family time is different these days, so is the business. On January 3, 2009 Ron Sr. died unexpectedly. His hopes that his son would one day take over the business had happened overnight, but not how anyone had planned. Although he looked forward to the day his son could take over, he loved the business so much that he had kept the majority of the day to day operations close to his chest so he could make sure everything was done just the way he liked it. “There was a lot of stuff that no one really knew how to take care of because he (Ron Sr.) kept it so close to the cuff.” Ron Jr. had to step into the role of business owner and make sure Snappy Print would survive after the devastating loss of his father. “I had to go from being a passenger on the bus to driving the bus in one day, it was just something I had to work through and figure out.”

It was a difficult transition for the family. The hardest part, according to Ron Jr., was the time frame. “Trying to figure out so much in such a small amount of time was tough” says Ron, but with employees, his mother (now a widow) and his own family relying on the business for their livelihood, Ron took the reins and never looked back. Fortunately, his dad had a little more help to offer the family even though he was gone.

Ron Sr. had set up life insurance to provide for his wife and allow for a cushion at Snappy Print in case something were to happen to him before Ron Jr. took over. “The life insurance provided the money to take care of the business finances during the transition and put a little comfort there so we knew we were going to be able to keep the business going the way my dad wanted it to happen." That cushion gave Ron Jr. the financial space needed for him to learn the things his dad had not yet taught him. He’s since become a pro at negotiating with vendors, managing the day-to-day operations and keeping Snappy on the path his dad had put it on so many years ago.

The life insurance Ron Sr. had purchases did even more than just provide for the business. According to Ron Jr, “it provided things that we probably never would have envisioned. It allows us to go places and enjoy things even though we’re missing that key person. It’s helped us as a family to enjoy life a little bit more and fill a void that’s there and fulfill some dreams that he had. It allows us to do some things with my mom that she had planned on doing with my dad in their retirement years.”

Although Snappy Print’s focus is still personal relationships with local businesses, Ron’s also expanded the business and added on-line aspects to Snappy Print to keep them competitive in the printing industry. Snappy can handle printing, promotional products, business use items – forms, envelopes, business cards – full design work, mailings, and a heck of a lot more. I loved Ron’s answer when I asked him what kind of business Snappy Print does the most; “the bulk of our business is all of the things that businesses need, we specialize in taking care of businesses.”

Ron still misses his dad every day. The motorcycle rides and family vacations will never be the same. Snappy Print will never be the same either without Ron Sr., but thanks to his planning and love for his family and also to Ron Jr’s hard work at the family business, the doors are still open. Everyone is still employed. They’re still helping Colorado Springs with their printing needs and the family is doing okay.

Stop by and say hi to Ron next time you’re near their shop at Maizeland and Academy. Ron Jr. will make sure they get your business needs taken care of, and who knows, maybe he’ll even share some stories about his dad.
Snappy Print is located at 3923 Maizeland Road, Colorado Springs, CO 80917. You can get more information on Snappy Print at www.snappyprint.net.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Smart Tax Moves For Your 2010 Taxes

Tax season is right around the corner. Keep more money in your pocket this year by making some smart tax moves!

   Anything you can do to pay less in taxes is a good thing - as long as it's legal ! I've been collecting ideas and good pieces of advice for awhile now in preparation for tax day. Here are some of the best tips I've seen to keep more money in your wallet this year!

Claim Your Home owner's Tax Deduction: 61% of homeowners who were eligible to take the deductions and would have saved on their income taxes took the standard deduction (and paid a higher tax bill) instead.
That's right! Those folks said "No thanks" when Uncle Sam tried to give them back some of their own money - on a silver platter!

A Few Minutes Could Save Hundreds

Lots of taxpayers take the easy way and choose to take the standard deduction on their federal income taxes, which the IRS has set at $11,400 this year for married couples filing jointly. That's fine if your individual deductions don't exceed that amount. If you have a mortgage, though, it's worth checking to see if your home owner's tax breaks exceed or at least put you within reach of the standard deduction. If they do, then you can add on tax breaks for other expenses such as charitable donations and local sales or income tax that are only available if you itemize.

Make money on charitable contributions: Internal Revenue Code Section 280(A)(g) -- for those who want to look it up -- says you can rent out your house for up to 14 days in a calendar year and all the income comes to you tax-free. Go beyond the 14 days, and everything becomes taxable.

Now this is what you do: Rent out your house to a qualified charity or church for a meeting once a month. Call a local hotel and get their rates for a conference room to establish a fair rental amount. Say that's $5,000 for the monthly use over the year. Since we have only 12 months, this monthly use will add up to less than 14 days out of the year, so all the rental income is tax-free.

In appreciation for all the good works the charity or church does, you make a deductible contribution of $6,000. You're in the 25% bracket, so that saves you $1,500 in federal taxes.

What's the result? The charity spent $5,000 and got $6,000. It's up $1,000. You contributed $6,000 and got $5,000 in tax-free cash, plus another $1,500 in tax savings. You're up $500.

Take a remodeling credit: For 2009 and 2010, Congress created an amazing tax credit of 30% of the cost of qualified energy efficiency improvements such as water heaters, furnaces, insulation, roofing, exterior windows and doors, and other items, limited to $1,500. Up to $5,000 in qualified improvements could cost as little as $3,500 after tax.

Of course there are plenty more things to consider when trying to pay as little as possible on last year's taxes, but these 3 seemed to be a pretty good place to start. Don't forget to get your 2010 IRA contribution in before it's too late. You don't want to miss out on the tax break of saving for your future!