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June 29, 2023 | Shannon Smith

Printing Image wants to be your go-to local print shop

Tavis and Cassie Bailey wanted to own their own Knoxville business, so instead of starting from the ground up, they bought one.

An Olympian, a nurse, and a racing greyhound walk into a print shop and buy it.

While missing a few details, that pretty much sums up the story of how Tavis and Cassie Bailey became the new owners of Printing Image, a print shop in Knoxville.

“So we’ve been at it for about 10 months now and we definitely had our fair share of trials and tribulations, but we actually see a light at the end of the tunnel,” said Tavis Bailey.

Let’s back up a little bit, to when Tavis and Cassie met in college. They were both on the University of Tennessee, Knoxville’s (UTK) track and field team, though Tavis swears it wasn’t love at first sight.

After graduation, Cassie became a nurse, and Tavis became an Olympian. He represented Team USA in the discus throw competition at the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

Cassie and Tavis Bailey, Owners of Printing Image. Credit: Printing Image.
Cassie and Tavis Bailey, Owners of Printing Image. Credit: Printing Image.

“After a couple of years focusing on track, I decided to take the same time and effort I was putting into it and take that effort and put it somewhere else,” said Bailey. That somewhere else landed him in sign sales, working on national campaigns. But he and his wife weren’t loving their jobs.

“We were both in situations where we made phenomenal money, but we had no control over our lives, no control over our time, and that can kind of wear on you,” he said.

So the couple reached out to a business broker, interested in buying an existing business they could run, as opposed to starting with an idea from the ground up.

“Why start from zero and have to bootstrap your way up, when you can jump into somebody’s machine, right? Now, granted, it comes with its set of problems, but it also comes with revenue, and you get to buy your company based on the profits that the former owner was enjoying,” said Bailey.

They found Printing Image, a locally owned printing company whose owners were looking to retire after opening the business in 1981. The Baileys took over in September 2022. They now have three employees, four if you count their retired racing greyhound Alfred, who works very hard as the office’s Morale Manager.

“Our identity is a quality-driven hands-on printing experience,” said Bailey. “We don’t have big, automated equipment. We don’t have multimillion-dollar printers that are running around the clock. We answer our phone, we answer our emails, we listen to what our customers need.”

Printing Image can print about anything you need, from posters to tax documents, signs to large vehicle wraps, Bailey said they’re working to be a one-stop shop for customers.

“Everybody needs a great relationship with a great printer, and if they don’t have one, we’re looking for more relationships,” he said.

In an effort to grow this existing business under new ownership, Bailey applied and was accepted into Cohort 7 of 100Knoxville, an initiative to help double the revenue of local Black-owned businesses through the investment of time, talent, and access to social, political, and financial capital. 100Knoxville’s goal is to help Black-owned businesses in Knoxville grow by $10,000,000 in five years.

Alfred, Printing Image’s Morale Manager. Credit: Printing Image.

“It was a phenomenal experience and a great program,” said Bailey. “Tommy Smith was my mentor and he was just absolutely pivotal. He told me ‘Hey man, my contacts are your contacts. Ultimately we’re in this together. Knoxville needs more businesses like your business.’”

Smith is both a Knoxville City Council member and an experienced marketing professional.

“He had accumulated a phenomenal amount of contacts as a marketing director, and so we just sat down and he would help make introductions and help put me in the right direction,” said Bailey. “He made me aware of people that have bigger marketing budgets and could be good customers, and that was huge.”

Bailey applied for 100Knoxville for the networking opportunities and said he’s glad to have learned about more resources and people available to help small businesses grow.

Now with more knowledge from other professionals, Bailey and his wife are continuing to grow their business as they grow their family. They’re expecting a baby soon, who will be the first member of their family who is not a retired athlete (yet).

“I feel like my wife and I are made for Knoxville. We’re UTK graduates, we’re super outdoor oriented, we love doing business with like-minded people,” said Bailey. “And I think sometimes, especially in Knoxville, being a diverse business owner can be pretty intimidating, right? Because there are not many diverse business owners out there, and that’s a big thing to overcome.”

If you’re in need of a printer, you can check out Printing Image’s services on their website.

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