Archive for June, 2012

June 28th, 2012

Escaping the Danger of the Comfort Zone – With Guardrails

By Al Lautenslager, AG Regional Franchise Development Director

When the controversial book Danger in the Comfort Zone was first released in the early ‘90s, those who were working nice corporate jobs and earning nice salaries and benefits took note. Soon after, terms like right-sizing, down-sizing and cap-sizing became the buzz. It forced people to look outside of that proverbial comfort zone, to see the writing on the wall and investigate the possibility of doing something different – in many cases, something completely different.

I was one of those looking to break out of the comfort zone, without taking the plunge with no safety net. I needed help – a fast startup, something almost turn-key in nature. Quickly, my thoughts turned to a franchise business.

I wasn’t alone then, and things haven’t changed much in today’s times. Corporate jobs are being eliminated. Burnout among executives is rampant. People are yearning to “do their own thing.”

Some of the phenomena mentioned above can be attributed to the pure entrepreneurial spirit. Corporate frameworks restrict entrepreneurial thoughts and actions; by breaking free, we free our entrepreneurial spirit. How can we embrace that spirit, while mitigating the risk? Often times, the answer is the protection of a franchise network – the assistance, structure and support we need to help ensure our success.

Some turn-key franchise businesses are like purchasing a job – a cookie cutter model, where an owner follows a set recipe. Others are wide open as far as creating, starting, and running a business, one that builds equity and yields a return on investment.

Dave Buzza, AlphaGraphics’ VP of Global Development, is quick to point out that the ownership of an AG franchise is like driving on a six-lane freeway. The owner – or the driver in this case – can drive any direction at any speed anywhere on that interstate. The franchise organization is the guardrails that prevent the driver from going into the ditch. If you keep your eyes on the road, you’re less likely to hit the guardrails.

Be careful of that comfort zone, find your highway, know that the guardrails are in place as you like them, and drive away. The danger – or lack of it – is more in your control.

If you’d like to explore the AlphaGraphics opportunity, please click here to visit our interactive online brochure.

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June 13th, 2012

Ed Rothschild – An International CEO Turned Entrepreneur

Ed Rothschild holds several scientific degrees and a world of specialized experience – none of which led him directly to AlphaGraphics. He was the CEO of the international environmental consulting and engineering firm Arcadis – a company he helped take public twice – before he traded in his corner office for the opportunity to grow an AlphaGraphics franchise operation.

“I was growing tired of my professional life, and so I started looking at franchise opportunities. I bet I looked at 50 different businesses before I decided on AlphaGraphics,” Rothschild says. “I knew I wanted a business-to-business model and relatively normal hours, but the rapidly evolving printing industry really intrigued me.”

After decades of consulting and engineering work across several sectors, including uranium mining and hazardous waste remediation, Ed agreed in 1996 to open three AlphaGraphics locations.

His home was in Denver, where Arcadis’s U.S. headquarters are located, so he opened his first business center in nearby Arvada, Colo., and a second shortly after in Downtown Denver. He later acquired and converted an independent print shop into a third AG location in Golden, Colo. Arcadis remains one of his largest customers.

“It was clear to me that this was a business that was very production-oriented,” he says. “I knew if I could apply great service to it, then we could be very successful.”

Rothschild, who owns the centers with his wife, Robin, looks to break $4 million in revenues in 2012, after growing by more than 10 percent last year. And he’s engaged the evolutionary aspects of the business, as well – personalized URLs, website design and social media campaigns all represent the kinds of services they are providing to clients.

“Marketing services are a relatively small percentage of our revenues, as we’re still at our core a printing business,” Ed says. “But it’s a very important percentage, because it opens up all kinds of opportunities to do more work with those customers. We’re pursuing the marketing services side of things pretty aggressively.”

Rothschild says his advice to those exploring AlphaGraphics is to understand that this is not a turn-key business.

“AG is not going to run your business for you, and I like that independence,” he says. “But you have the resources to support you, and they’ve made a big difference in our ability to grow and succeed.”

If you’d like to learn more about the AlphaGraphics opportunity, please click here to visit our website.

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