Meet Jim and Kelly Sullivan of Millennium Press

Their Secret to Success is a Circle of People

Millennium Press began 34 years ago in a one-car garage where Jim Sullivan spent weekends and evenings attempting to grow a small printing business. Meanwhile, he and his wife Kelly worked other jobs during the day to support their young family.

Jim was just 9 when he ran his first printing press in his family’s cellar. Jim’s dad had a few small presses, and they printed wedding Invitations, raffle tickets, and other small print jobs. 

“My parents taught me that you need to work hard for what you want,” Jim said.

Jim and Kelly were in high school when they met. It took Jim several attempts to win Kelly’s heart. She was working the drive-thru at McDonald’s at the time, and after Jim’s endless trips to the drive-thru during her shift, she agreed to go on a date with him. Straight out of high school, the Sullivans started a family and bought a small home in Chicopee.

Kelly had a few jobs. One was making custom made draperies for a friend’s mom and the other one was desktop publishing. The latter became a huge asset to their new printing venture. 

The Sullivans saw rapid growth and continued to invest in newer technologies and began employing others to help fill orders. As much as their investment in technology, the Sullivans credit the support of family and friends for their success and for the awards and recognition the company has received.

Jim pointed out the importance of the couple’s “friendship circles.” “We have dozens of close friends from different circles,” he said, adding that those friends have helped him and Kelly through the stress of running a business.

Their circles include friends the Sullivans have trained and competed with for more than 30 years in marathons and Ironmans. “I Iove being pushed and pushing others, and athletics have been an important part of keeping our minds calm over the years – especially while running the business during the economic downturn of 2008, and more recently, the Covid pandemic,” Jim said.

“Our family and friends have helped us be who we are – everyone in our lives has molded us,” Jim added.

“Our friends make us laugh on a hard day – they’re amazing people,” Kelly said.

There have been hard days. Millennium Press had just invested millions of dollars in 2007, including expanding the building and purchasing a state-of-the-art Heidelberg press. Then the 2008 economic crisis hit. Closing wasn’t an option; they weren’t going to let 20 years of success go down the drain. With help from Congressman Richard E. Neal, the Sullivans were able to secure several SBA loans to lower their monthly debt.

“We’re very employee-centric,” Jim said, adding that he and Kelly work in the shop with their employees. “We’re in the trenches every day; our employees are like family.” In fact, several employees are approaching 30 years with Millennium; others have been with the company for at at least 20 years.

In early March of 2020, Covid hit. During the Pandemic, Millennium lost 75% of its revenue. Although they had to lay off most of their employees, Millennium continued to pay for their health insurance and kept their retirement plans intact. With the help of PPP loans, the Sullivans were able to start bringing employees back to work. Another round of PPP loans followed, and all the employees were back.

What happened next was something Jim and Kelly never expected – out of the 700,000 small businesses in Massachusetts, they were named the 2023 Businesspersons of the Year. The Regional SBA director, Congressman Neal, and local dignitaries visited Millennium to recognize the Sullivans. They were invited to Washington, D.C., where they received the award, and were invited to a reception at The Rose Garden.

It has been quite a journey - from a garage to the White House and a national award. Jim and Kelly go back to their friends, family and employees, and credit them for helping to win the SBA award. “Our support system helps us as people – we’re better at running the business because of them," Kelly said.

Jim and Kelly’s circle includes their neighbors at Sunnyside Ranch Estates, a private community within the Ranch Golf Course in Southwick, where Jim serves as President of the Homeowners Association. The couple built their home there 13 years ago and since then, each of them has volunteered to help run the community.

Jim sees his role as president of the association as a natural extension of his role as founder and President of Millennium Press. “Making decisions is a daily task for me – I look at it as another job, a task. It’s also very rewarding when people thank you for the things you do."

For the Sullivans, community extends beyond their neighborhood. As Holyoke natives, they go back to the Paper City for the St. Patrick’s Road Race and Parade and get together with friends, including many who still live there. They do work for community-based organizations and are passionate about supporting the development of young people.

You might be wondering when we’ll mention Millennium’s amazing state-of- the-art facility that allows them, for example, to print and fold 300,000 brochures in a few days. You may want to know about their printing capabilities and some of the work they’ve done, but for our Thankful issue, Jim and Kelly wanted to focus on the people who make them successful, because without them, Millennium Press would not be what it is today.

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