Through the success of Direct Connect Printing, Robin and Roger Heldman take the opportunity to volunteer and support their community
For Robin and Roger Heldman, the Southside is near and dear to their hearts. It’s where they were born, raised and continue to own a business. For that reason, Robin says they feel a commitment to support the surrounding area. With the success of their business, Direct Connect Printing & Digital Services, it has allowed them to do just that.
“Since we’ve been here so long, we consider ourselves a cornerstone,” Robin said. “If you remove a cornerstone from a building, it may not stand any longer. We feel the commitment to support this area that has supported us.”
Robin is currently president of the Gateway Community Alliance, on the Fletcher Place Community Center board of directors, on the Madison Avenue Corridor Team for the SoIndy Quality of Life Plan and a member of the Greater Southside Business Alliance. But she says that she couldn’t be this active without the business.
After graduating from Manual High School, Robin went to work for Indiana Farm Bureau. Roger began working for Insty-Prints in 1978, working his way up from delivery, to press operator, to manager. In 1991, the owners, John and Susan Colombe, approached Roger and Robin to ask if they’d be interested in purchasing the franchised location, which they were.
Robin continued to work in administration for Indiana Farm Bureau while helping with the business from home. The shop grew to the point that Roger needed help on the sales and administration side. After 13 years with the bureau, Robin left to be at the shop full time.
“From that point, we’ve been running it together as a team,” she said.
In 2007, the Heldmans decided to go independent, changing the name from Insty-Prints to Direct Connect.
“We fulfilled our commitment to the franchise,” Robin said. “We worked hard to build our reputation based on our performance… Most people knew our shop not as Insty-Prints, but as Robin and Roger’s shop because we have a close connect to most of the community on a personal basis. We’re here every day and at least one of us is here most of the time. We wanted to establish ourselves as Direct Connect and be able to expand and offer more services to our clients.”
The printing industry is ever-changing. Clients who used to bring in hard copies to the shop now have computers and printers at home.
“It changed drastically, but there’s still need for commercial printing,” Robin said. “We’re a one-stop shop. We’ll work with you on a concept. We have graphic designers on staff who will create, then go into the print process, either digital or offset. We’ve expanded to the promotional product line. We’ve learned to offer more than just printing.”
Currently, Roger and Robin work full-time at the shop with three other full-time employees.
Robin said it’s the contact with the public and delivering quality products to clients that she finds most rewarding about owning Direct Connect. It has also allowed her and Roger to be more active in the community.
“My husband and I have a strong sense of making a difference and impacting lives,” she said. “We both come from backgrounds that are not perfect. We’ve learned to embrace the opportunities that we’ve been given. By having a successful business, it allows us to give back. I’m the extrovert so I like to be out and communicate, socialize. This is a way for me to do it, but in a way to make a difference.”
Currently, she is leading the marketing efforts for Fletcher Place’s upcoming fundraiser, the 8th Annual Culinary Collage, to take place on July 16, 1 to 4 p.m. at the University of Indianapolis. Since its inception, the event has grown from raising $8,000 in the first year, to $50,000 in 2016.
“The Culinary Collage is my baby,” she said. “I was on the first committee that started it. The third year, they asked me to chair the committee. I put together one of the best teams anyone could hope for. It’s grown tremendously, but only through the support of businesses and the university. It’s a wonderful demonstration of community involvement. That’s what’s so rewarding about it. It’s not just an event that you come and you forget about. It has an impact throughout the year. Fletcher Place, their mission and vision is something my husband and I are strong supporters for, knowing the services they provide and who they provide them for. I take a lot of pride in this fundraiser because 100 percent of the proceeds go to Fletcher. There is no expense Fletcher has to spend to put this on. Everything is donated.”
As president of the GCA, she said they are trying to revitalize and bring new business to help the existing corridor. That vision overlaps with SoIndy’s Madison Avenue Corridor Team.
“My vision is to see Madison Avenue become a Main Street Corridor that offers a variety of businesses that are unique and are necessary to support the neighborhoods, and visa versa, the neighbors to support the businesses. Nowadays everything is online. But you can never replace the personal contact and service that a small business can give a person. That’s where my husband and I are adamant about providing good customer service. We greatly appreciate the support of our clients. We treat the small, one copy person the same way we treat our corporate accounts. Every client is important to us. We appreciate the loyalty and support they have given us.”
Getting to know Robin…
-We’re power lifters. 1986 was my first competition. My last was in 2000. We competed in Russia for Team USA. That was one of the biggest accomplishments was placing first on the team. My husband was a national champion. We both held records. He cycles now. I’ll lift at home. We’re both still very active. We are both competitive people.
– I’m a big animal lover, and so is he. I’m a big cat fan and take care of feral cats and domestic cats.
-When we purchased the business, we were young and had to come up with a down payment. My husband had to sell his 1969 Dodge Charger from high school. He said, it’s worth it; I can get another car one of these days. He turned 50 four years ago. For his 50th birthday, I found the car and got it for him, the same car.
– On my 50th Birthday, I drove a NASCAR around Michigan International Speedway during the Richard Petty Driving Experience. I drove 126 mph. It was a blast and on my bucket list.
Best advice: John and Susan Colombe, who gave us this opportunity, told Roger and I to just be ourselves because we were outstanding individuals who they had all the confidence in the world in. They believed in us and took a gamble on us.
Worst advice: When you own your own business, you can set your own hours and you’ll be rolling in the dough. That is absolutely false. It takes a lot of blood, sweat and tears to be a successful small business.
Best business decision: To move into the business and work with my husband side-by-side.
Secret to success: Simply, you have to have a drive to succeed and be yourself. And be true to yourself.
In 5 years… I see myself exactly where I am today.
Direct Connect Printing
930 E. Hanna Ave.
Indianapolis, IN 46227