Under 40: Timothy R. McMahon, Safeguard by Prime
Timothy R. McMahon, 30
General Manager and Owner
Safeguard by Prime, Streetsboro, Ohio
Call it fate or mere coincidence, 30-year-old Safeguard distributor Timothy McMahon was born and raised near Safeguard’s original corporate office in Lansdale, Pa. The fact that his father was a 30-year-plus industry veteran, who built a career at office supply retailer Staples, only sealed McMahon’s destiny.
Not long after graduating from Drexel University, McMahon joined the Staples team, selling commercial print and promotional products and apparel to mid-market accounts in the metropolitan Philadelphia area. While there, he developed a passion for consultative selling. After a few years in that role, McMahon was ready for a new challenge, so he made the switch to Safeguard’s franchise operations team, and began working with existing Safeguard distributors, newly acquired company-owned divisions and Safeguard’s Business Mergers & Acquisitions (BAM) team, as each focused on growth initiatives.
“In working with our franchisees and company-owned divisions on a daily basis and throughout my Certified Franchise Executive (CFE) studies [funded by Safeguard corporate], I had a revelation one day: that I could potentially realize my lifelong dream of becoming a business owner within the Safeguard family,” McMahon said.
So, he introduced himself to R. Scott Sutton and Kevin Derella, leaders of Safeguard’s BAM team, and after several lengthy conversations, the trio agreed that McMahon could be a candidate to buy a Safeguard business should the possibility present itself. It did, and now he is the proud owner of Safeguard by Prime.
Why he loves the industry: Simply put, no two days are the same. Every day is a new challenge. And while the industry has seen its ups and downs over the years, it’s been remarkable to watch the print world adapt over time. It seems like every time we see a decline in a certain product line or service, something else new and exciting pops up. E-commerce solutions helped the industry adapt to the shift in the market to online print/promo/apparel buying. Now we’re seeing a huge resurgence in direct mail, along with digital packaging and specialty large-format print remaining huge growth areas. And not to mention there are now some very innovative procurement software platforms for distributors to use to become more efficient in their print buying. This is a very innovative industry, and I think that bodes well for a long and prosperous future.
Age roadblocks and advantages: I don’t necessarily see my age as a disadvantage by any stretch. I think it’s more so an opportunity to be able to work closely with seasoned veterans within the industry, to learn from their experiences. Fortunately, within Safeguard’s franchise network and corporate support team, there are plenty of folks out there who have a wealth of knowledge and are a great source for advice. I’m fully confident that if I encounter some type of business issue, there is someone out there who I can call on for direction or advice, no matter how small or critical the issue is. One of my goals on a daily basis is to learn something new, and that is easily achievable in a business environment like the one I’m in now. On the other hand, with my young age comes a keen familiarity with industry trends, which will help Safeguard by Prime grow as I infuse my youthful energy and vision while we sell more and more product lines and services to existing and new customers.
His biggest career influence: [I’d say] Ellen Lunden, my manager from when I was on Safeguard’s Franchise Operations team. Ellen is Safeguard’s director of customer service and franchise operations. Throughout my tenure at Safeguard, Ellen presented me with many invaluable opportunities to learn and grow professionally. I traveled to many destinations throughout the U.S., engaging in post-acquisition support. This type of work saw me collaborate with many different departments within Safeguard—finance, manufacturing, creative, customer service, sales, management, etc. All of it gave me a keen understanding of how Safeguard businesses operate, grow and thrive. Ellen was also the one who decided to support my CFE studies. She saw the value in investing in me and that led to me reaching a career goal way sooner than I had expected.
His most meaningful business accomplishment: Acquiring Safeguard by Prime. I was exposed to the entrepreneurial spirit at a very [young] age, with my mother being a small business owner when I was in elementary and grade school. I always knew being a business owner was the way to go for me. I just didn’t know how, when or where it would manifest itself. From very early on in my print career, I knew that this was something I wanted to be involved in for longer than the foreseeable future. So as time went on and my career evolved, and as opportunities to become a business owner presented themselves, I just had to take the chance because I never knew if that chance would come around again.
His differentiating factor: I intend on replicating the management strategy I was exposed to at Safeguard. That is, hiring the right people and showing them that they’re the best fit for the job by not micro-managing them, but letting them do what they do best, support them when they need it and invest in them when necessary and appropriate. I think that people need to not simply just be told that they are important to a business, but, rather, [you must] show them they are important by managing your team in a people-centric fashion. That is so vital to the future of this (and any) industry.
What he does for fun: I like to watch hockey, football and soccer. I play guitar and bass. I’m a bourbon and cigar aficionado, and I enjoy going on hikes with my girlfriend and my beagle.