A NEW WORLD OF PRINTING
Gregory J. Carafello
Cartridge World is already a major global franchise, with 1,100 locations in 53 countries. But Gregory J. Carafello has a plan to make the company an even bigger player: community printing, coming to a Starbucks near you soon.
Q: Cartridge World is launching something called The Starbucks Model. What’s the idea?
A: We have trademarked the term “community printing.” There are 98 million people in the U.S. who work from places like Starbucks and Panera Bread and cannot print from their phones or tablets. Think about it. You are on the road or in a Starbucks and need to print a page or a full-color Power Point presentation. Well, we are rolling out a program where we put the full-color printers in these and many other businesses at no cost to the business location. In exchange, they get listed on our app as a go-to site for printing and scanning.
You look at your community printing app, select one of the thousands of locations, hit print, and your file goes into the cloud. You then receive a code — let’s say 4445. You walk into the Starbucks, go to the printer and put in 4445. Your file is downloaded from the cloud to the printer in front of you and printed, in high-quality color, for less than five cents each. Because we own the toner manufacturer, we can do this.
Q: How does Cartridge World make printer maintenance more convenient?
A: We not only make the maintenance better, but we make the entire printing experience more efficient and convenient, with much less commitment of financial resources. We have something called the No-Cost Printer Program. We give our qualified clients any and as many printers as they need, at no cost to them. The only thing we ask is that you purchase two sets of toner at the time of the giveaway, and agree to buy printing cartridges from us for two or three years. All printers we provide in our No-Cost Program include service for three to five years.
Q: Like any franchise, Cartridge World has to choose its franchisees carefully. What kind of person do you look for?
A: We have a very successful model for people to follow. We are looking for growth-oriented, hard-working, high-energy people who want to grow a solid business by working with a professional clientele. The owner should have excellent customer service skills, and be comfortable with networking and speaking to people.
We have nurses, pilots, teachers, returning veterans and IT professionals who are owners in our 1,100-chain system in 53 countries. Because of our new product and service introductions, we are looking to expand by more than 1,000.
Q: Cartridge World recently signed a deal with Samsung. What is that collaboration going to look like? How will it help your clients?
A: This is huge, because for the first time in 28 years, a large, dominant original equipment manufacturer has recognized our global strength and asked to team up with our 1,100 stores worldwide. Cartridge World is now a global distributor for Samsung, and this affords us the ability to have the most up-to-date, feature-rich, well-designed products in the world.
Q: You’ve been in the printer business since 1981. What are some of the biggest changes you’ve seen over that time?
A: I started with Canon in 1981 in New York City. Most people only knew Canon as a camera company up until then. Canon brought out what was called “mono” component toner, which changed the game and allowed us to introduce the single, all-in-one cartridge every printer uses for desktops. We all take this for granted today.
The second was the fax machine introduction, which I was very involved with in the mid ‘80s in NYC. Now our printers and copiers are fax machines, but back then, they were $5,500 each.
The third major change I was involved with was the advent of the Canon Color Laser Copier in 1987, followed by the EFI Fiery RIP that connected the high-end color copier to any computer.
The cost of the system was well over $125,000, whereas today, you can get color printers from Cartridge World for free. I signed the agreement with EFI for Canon and shortly resigned, so my wife and I could open our first business out of our dining room. We opened Abra Cadabra Color Copy Centers in 1989, and it grew so rapidly that we went retail with four locations on major highways in New Jersey and our headquarters location at Two World Trade Center. We grew the business to $4 million per year in sales, with 39 employees, and sold it in 2004 after I purchased Cartridge World.
Q: Customer service is a big focus for Cartridge World. What are some of the service principles you abide by?
A: Our goal is to ensure that each client is met with friendly, professional service, the highest-quality products and services, the most convenient options for delivery, and the ability to order from anywhere at any time from their computer. We provide ease of ordering for our clients, but also financial accuracy in reporting what each and every location anywhere in the country is spending on toner, ink and printers. Our larger clients really like this aspect, because most toner purchases go under the radar and end up in general expense purchases.
We actually have software that tells us when you have 20 percent left in a cartridge, so you never run out of toner again. It also tells us when your printer needs service or has a paper jam. Our goal is to take all the wasted time on printers, printer service and printer toners away from business owners. We keep you printing at all times.