The Express Press Building • 3401 Fiechtner Drive • One Block North of 13th Avenue South
Fargo, North Dakota • Mike Stevens, Owner • 1983 to 2006

A beautiful building in a prime location with good parking and lots of green space.

A lot of attention has been given to architectural details that create a sense of beauty and harmony.

The front yard is irrigated sod. It looks very impressive because of the wide frontage on Fiechtner Drive.

The flower garden and architectural lines near the front door will create a warm welcome for our customers.

Well maintained with lots of frontage.

Professionally landscaped with beautiful flower gardens.

Historic design by Yeater, Hennings and Ruff Architects.

This picture doesn’t show much. We like to pretend that the weeds out back behind the grass are virgin
North Dakota prairie and that a herd of buffalo will come walking through any moment.

Express Press History

Express Press - 1983

Express Press - 1990

Mike Stevens was selling used cars in 1982 when he asked the owner of Service Printers if he'd ever thought about selling. As it turned out, the small printing company was about to be offered for sale. Mike assumed ownership in 1983. The purchase included a small but profitable printing business, an office supply store, a two-story brick building in downtown Fargo, North Dakota, and a ton of old equipment. (If you can believe it, on the day Mike was given a key, a hot lead Linotype machine was still in daily operation.)

From 1983 to 1985, the print shop was operated by Mike as an absentee-owned business. That wasn't a good idea, and by the end of 1985, sales had dropped from $25,000 a month to $10,000 a month. Fearing bankruptcy, Mike quit his job as a used car salesman to become the manager of his newly named company-Express Press.

A lot of people predicted that Express Press would fail, because Mike had no experience in the printing industry, and 60% of his customers had left during the first two years of his ownership. To turn things around, Mike persuaded his dad, Jerry, to leave retirement and help out for awhile, and then he hired a top-notch front counter girl. (Sorry, that's what they were called back then.) Things finally started to get better and soon the print shop had a positive cash flow again.

A big break came in 1987 when Mike began to send a series of monthly direct mail advertisements to the businesses in Fargo. The mailing began to make a difference. Mike's mailing list started at about 500, and he added the names of additional businesses monthly as he could afford it. With each passing month, it seemed that there were a few more phone calls and bid requests than there were the previous month.

The phone kept ringing and more customers were visiting. After four years of monthly direct mail advertising, sales had grown to $60,000 per month and the mailing list had grown to include more than 4,000 businesses. Sales kept increasing and soon there were four full-time project managers at the front counter entering an average of 250 tickets each, per month. It sounds like an exaggeration, but on many days, customers would stand in line to buy printing. One customer joked that the lobby of our print shop looked like "McDonald's at lunchtime." Express Press had become a real success, and many industry awards for excellence and good management followed.

In 1995, Mike made a decision to move his printing business from the downtown location to a new spot located near the big shopping mall in Fargo. Things changed dramatically as the size of the print shop went from 6,800 sq. ft. to over 15,000 sq. ft. The new building had room for a new Heidelberg SM-52 five-color press, and two paper cutters, six small presses and a large assortment of bindery and mailing services equipment.

Sales grew to astonishing numbers (at the time) for a quick printing operation. It was not unusual for monthly sales to exceed $230,000, with monthly profits exceeding $35,000.
Mike eventually added a new lobby to the building, because he wanted Express Press to maintain the look and feel of a quick print shop.

Express Press continued operations until October of 2006, when it was sold to a larger graphic arts firm that had its home office in Fargo.

It was a great 23 years, and Mike will tell you that nothing in business will ever compare to the feeling of building and operating a successful printing business …

He may have sold his printing business, but ink will always remain in his blood.

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Interesting, Odd, and Unique Facts about Express Press

  • Express Press’ monthly sales went from a low of $10,000 in 1985 to a peak of $238,000 in March of 2002. Of the 4,400 businesses in Fargo, 1,600 were active customers at Express Press.
  • Express Press always used Itek/Ryobi small presses, Polar cutters, and their big press was a Heidelberg SM-52 five color. Kohl-Madden inks were used in the press room.
  • Express Press relied heavily on monthly direct mail advertising for sales and revenue growth. During its busiest times, Express Press mailed 6 different mailings each month to over 7,000 unique prospects. 98% of all sales came from the local community. Fargo has a population of approximately 90,000 people.


  • Express Press had profits of over $5,000,000.00 during the 23 years it was in existence.


  • The famous “On Time or It’s Free Guarantee” wasn’t original with Express Press. One of Mike’s best friends, Jack Caffray of Instant Copy in Indiana convinced Mike to try it. Mike did, and it was very popular. During one amazing 4-year stretch of time, Express Press printed 17,000 consecutive jobs without missing a deadline. Then they missed, and had to give away an $800 job to a customer. Then … they went another 13,000 consecutive jobs without missing a deadline.


  • After visiting Grauman’s Chinese Theatre in Hollywood, Mike started a sidewalk “Walk of Fame” on the city sidewalks in front of his printing firm in downtown Fargo. Over 95 celebrities visited Express Press to become part of the Fargo Walk of Fame including: Garth Brooks, Aerosmith, Alan Jackson, Stevie Ray Vaughn, and George W. Bush. It was a lot of fun, and the crowd control often resulted in six or seven police cars being dispatched to the events, which would essentially shut down the busiest intersection in downtown Fargo for an hour or two.


  • He loves printing so much, he named his first-born daughter “Paige.”
  • According to Dan Witte, the one time Director of Education for the National Association of Quick Printers, “Mike Stevens was (at one time) the highest rated speaker at NAQP events—yet Mike doesn’t know how to run a press, operate a paper cutter, or use a folding machine."
  • Mike can’t even type. All of his articles and publications are written long-hand and then given to his on staff writer/editor.
  • The only book Mike has had published was written during his printing career, but the book, “The Banker’s Best-Kept Secret” was about how to use prepayment strategies to save interest payments on bank loans. It was the #1 selling book at the NAPL bookstore for over a year in the mid-1990s.
  • For all his success, Mike has some mind-numbing failures, too. He says, “I’m the only printer I know who once managed to lose three of his top four customers in a single year!”
  • Another time, he wrote off what is believed to be the largest bad debt in the history of quick printing. An Express Press customer unexpectedly locked their doors and it resulted in a $93,000 write-off !
  • The most popular article Mike ever wrote was called “The Kinko’s Killer.” It was a 4-part online article about how he competed with and beat the new Kinko’s store that opened up a block from his printing firm. (Over 4,000 Printers downloaded the article.)
  • Mike currently works full-time at his office in Fargo, North Dakota. He owns three printing related businesses:, (aka Ink Inc.), and


  • Mike was lucky enough to work with his dad for 23 years. In 1983, Jerry Stevens left retirement in Florida to move to North Dakota and help out at Express Press. His tireless efforts, ever smiling face, and positive attitude inspired co-workers and won the hearts of many customers. Mike says, “There were many times I got all the credit, but my dad did all the work.” The truth is, Jerry wouldn’t have wanted it any other way. It’s no wonder Mike calls his dad “My Secret Weapon.” Jerry Stevens retired on September 1, 2006, and passed away 17 days later at the family’s little cabin located on the Assemblies of God campground in Grass Lake, Michigan.


  • Constructed in 1994 with addition in 2000
  • Office / detail / production building. Very clean and well maintained.
  • Total building area15,406 sq. ft.
    Office/Retail12,226 sq. ft.
    Warehouse3,180 sq. ft.
    Mezzanine1,696 sq. ft.
  • Site area / Real estate        57,039 sq. ft.
  • Land to Building Ratio       3:70 to one
  • Parking34 Parking Spaces
  • Parcel Number01-4021-00230-000
  • Date of InspectionApril 21st, 2005
  • Information taken from appraisal:

    Prepared by:
    Appraisal Services Inc.
    Scott Mandy, MAI
    1220 Main Avenue, Suite 125
    Fargo, ND 58103

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Express Press Awards

The Hall of Fame Management Plus Award
Express Press • Fargo, North Dakota

Recognizes management experience in all phases of operations. Winners are selected based on how they perform against industry standards in nine key areas: internal control systems, financial performance, marketing and sales plans, business planning, human resources, environmental concerns, quality control, community & industry affairs, and vendor relations.

The Best Workplace in America Award
“Best of the Best”
Express Press • Fargo, North Dakota

Recognizes industry leaders for their outstanding human relations practices. Printing firms are judged on the following criteria: management practices, work environment, training and development opportunities, community recognition and industry awards, health and wellness, financial security, and work-life balance.

Printer of the Year
Mike Stevens, Owner
Express Press • Fargo, North Dakota

This award is presented annually to the quick or small commercial printer who exemplifies the best of the industry. It is the highest award the association can bestow.

The Triple Crown of Printing

The three awards shown above are the top awards presented by America’s three premiere printing associations. Combined, they are sometimes referred to as the “triple crown of printing.” Winning any of the awards is a rare feat, accomplished by very few. Express Press is the only company in history to have won the triple crown of printing.

Other Awards and Honors

• The NAPL Management Plus Gold Award (#1)
• The NAPL Management Plus Gold Award (#2)
• The NAPL Management Plus Silver Award (#1)
• The NAPL Management Plus Silver Award (#2)
• The NAQP Management Excellence Award — Highest Honors
• The NAQP Management Excellence Award — 2nd place
• The Walter E. Soderstrom Honor Society Award

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Mike Stevens, Owner

Why Mike Sold...

If you were to ask Mike if he ever thought he’d sell his print shop, he’d tell you, “No, not in a million years.” Mike had printing in his blood. He was a printer, is a printer and will always be a printer. He’s the guy who named his first-born daughter Paige, because it just sounded like the perfect name for a daughter of a printer. Mike is the guy who wrote the popular inspirational poster called “I Am A Printer” which describes why printing is the most important occupation in America.

So, what happened? Why did Mike decide to sell Express Press? The answer is this: the deal was right. Express Press had been a very successful and highly publicized printing business nationally, as well as one of the top locally owned businesses in his hometown community of Fargo, North Dakota. Well, one day Mathison’s, a well-established local graphic arts company, made Mike an offer he couldn’t refuse. The numbers were just too good to pass up. The deal came out of nowhere, and within 22 hours, there was a handshake deal. Earnest money was deposited, the paperwork completed, and Express Press transferred ownership and moved into its new location within 30 days. The original Express Press building shown here was sold to a group of successful plastic surgeons, who in turn leased it out as rental property.

Later, Mike said of his deal, “It was like getting paid twice. For 23 years I was fortunate enough to earn a very good income in the printing business. Then, I sold my company and got paid again! I was able to use the proceeds to structure a very good annuity income for my young family that will continue to provide for them long after I’m gone. It wasn’t how I envisioned my printing career going, but it was a very smart choice and a good business decision.”

The additional good news is that the sale of Express Press has allowed Mike to remain involved full-time in the printing business. As most of you know, he owns two other very successful marketing companies which function as advertising agencies for the printing industry. One of them, WebsitesForPrinters, has provided websites for printers in over 400 cities, while his other company, Ink Inc., provides direct mail advertising programs and sales systems for printers in over 500 cities.

Mike continues to work daily. You can contact him at:

Mike Stevens
3137 32nd Ave. S.
Fargo, ND 58103

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