Posts Tagged ‘AlphaGraphics’

February 8th, 2016

New Twin Cities Franchisee Acquires Two Successful AlphaGraphics Business Centers with Statewide Growth Potential

Steve Webb knew he wanted to own his own business. He just didn’t think it would be a franchise. But when he dove into the AlphaGraphics model and saw the flexibility to carve a niche as a marketing and communications consultant while benefitting from the support of an entire Network, the decision became clear. Now, Webb has acquired two well-established AlphaGraphics Business Centers in the Minneapolis-St. Paul area.

Screen Shot 2016-02-08 at 3.56.54 PM

“Honestly I had some pre-conceptions about franchises, but I attended AlphaGraphics Discovery Day and realized that this is a unique model that has proven to be very successful. It’s not a cookie-cutter system, where every product is exactly the same,” Webb explains. “There are good, strong guidelines and support systems, but the way in which you execute is very individual.

After a 30-career that started in accounting, led him through product development and consumer packaged goods marketing with the 3M Corporation, and most recently saw him leading a national data services company as its president, he was ready to apply that experience to his own organization. Working with a Franchise consultant, Webb found AlphaGraphics and discovered an acquisition opportunity in his hometown.

“The more I considered it, the more sense it made. We have a strong team, great brand presence and a large market with statewide growth potential,” he says. “I loved the B2B focus of AlphaGraphics, and then I saw myself in a lot of the other Franchisees. Everyone I talked with reinforced not only the potential of the marketing communications space, but also the integrity and professionalism of AlphaGraphics as a company.”

He’s been a witness to the rapidly evolving communications industry, and was intrigued with the prospect of helping other small businesses grow as their marketing partner. But starting from scratch didn’t seem viable.

“If you’re going to be in this industry, I believe it would be pretty tough to keep up with the technology as an independent. The AlphaGraphics leadership comes from the industry and has their fingers on the pulse of what’s coming down the pike – you don’t have to do it by yourself,” Webb says. “In fact, many of the pioneers are part of our Network. I have confidence in where I am, and that’s a lot of the value of a franchise like AlphaGraphics.

Webb says the former owner’s willingness to stay on as director of sales offers continuity that will allow him to grow the business. His staff of 12 brings both relationships, market intelligence and operations experience to the table.

“We will focus on fanatical customer service as we strive to become the ‘go to’ marketing partner in the Twin Cities, and on making this a great place to work,” he says. “We’ll leverage our unique skills and capabilities to carve out a niche and develop competitive advantage, and we believe that will drive significant growth into the future.”

Comments Off on New Twin Cities Franchisee Acquires Two Successful AlphaGraphics Business Centers with Statewide Growth Potential

January 10th, 2016

“A Different Kind of Conversation”: Shifting the Sales Dynamic

Grant Richey had seen all sides of the printing business. As an account rep with the Xerox Corporation, he sold commercial equipment to customers ranging from educational institutions to independent print shops, and had become an expert in the latest technology and capabilities. Prior to that, he had managed three AlphaGraphics Business Centers in Salt Lake City, where he gained experience on the consumer side, from design to fulfillment.

Screen Shot 2016-02-11 at 2.06.49 PM

An entrepreneur at heart, he didn’t see a future in a career selling commoditized products for someone else. So when an opportunity came up to buy into a leading company in the rapidly growing large-format graphics space, he started making plans – until a conversation with a customer directed his path back to AlphaGraphics.

“I was ready to mortgage my house to purchase a minority stake and take on an executive role in this company, and over lunch one day I asked one of my customers what he thought of my decision,” Richey says. “He owned the AlphaGraphics in Bountiful, Utah, and we had developed a great relationship. We talked about how quickly the industry was evolving, and that there was an opportunity to build a different kind of business. He was ready to sell and it all fell into place. That was 12 years ago.”

Looking back, he remembers the moment when he recognized that print is simply one byproduct of an effective marketing plan. It’s not about printing per se, but about the content. It’s about communicating a message – which leads a client to a different kind of conversation.

“There’s a 6 to 1 multiple on marketing dollars over print as a component of the total spend, on average. When we started thinking about how we could help our clients differentiate themselves, it really changed our entire sales process,” he says. “Logos, websites, social media and video pieces done right can connect with people on an emotional level. When we were able to articulate that and our ability to drive those creative processes, we started really expanding our client relationships around message development and how best to engage their customers.”

Richey says the last 12 months have brought home the point. His AlphaGraphics team has landed several large new contracts and felt the change in the way they are perceived by their clients.

“I’ve heard several of our clients reference their experience with us as more like working with an agency. When you’re having a conversation on that level, you’ve shifted from a sales pitch to a discussion on how you can help lead the entire process.”

They’ve tapped into every media available – think short video highlights, Ecommerce focused landing pages and in-store dimensional LED displays that showcase a handful of featured products – and the AlphaGraphics Bountiful team is involved from concept, identity and message development all the way through the sale. They even handle the order fulfillment.

He’s mentored his staff on how to create that different kind of discussion, and as a result they’ve landed projects that build expertise and demonstrate capabilities.

“I talk to new Franchisees who are worried that they don’t have the background to execute on the kinds of things that we do, but the truth is there’s an entire network of support that’s here to help, and we’ve been the beneficiary of that from the beginning,” Richey says. “That’s what AlphaGraphics is all about. The people are the resource, and without that camaraderie and teamwork with the corporate staff and our network of Franchisees, we wouldn’t have the brand strength we do today.”

Comments Off on “A Different Kind of Conversation”: Shifting the Sales Dynamic

July 22nd, 2015

Growth Through Acquisition: How Mark Lee Doubled His Business

Mark Lee purchased an AlphaGraphics Business Center in Arlington, Texas in August of 2013, having retired from a successful career as Director of Sales and Customer Management with PepsiCo.

Screen Shot 2015-07-22 at 2.16.19 PM

The first year’s sales results were about $1.5 million. But acquisition was at the center of his growth strategy – Swifty Solutions was the market leader, with 25+ years of brand presence and sales of nearly $2 million annually.

AlphaGraphics Business Builder program had identified Swifty as a prospect for conversion in early 2014, but the owner wasn’t yet ready to sell. Thirteen months later, in February of 2015, Lee purchased Swifty Solutions and began the process of converting it to AlphaGraphics.

“The business wasn’t for sale when we first reached out, but the owner, Jerry Mechell, had been thinking about a transition plan. He’s passionate about the people – both his staff and his customers – and he wanted to make sure the company he’d built would continue to be successful,” Lee says. “The unique thing is that he had been watching AlphaGraphics from afar and had implemented a lot of our best practices into Swifty.”

With the new operation came a seasoned staff, an impressive book of business and complementary equipment and capabilities. Through the acquisition, Lee added 10 new employees (including a director of production with 24 years of service), more than 9,000 square feet of space and five offset printers. The new location is set to debut as AlphaGraphics in two months.

“A lot of the offset work that we had been subbing out can now be done in-house,” Lee says.“Swifty Solutions didn’t have in-house mailing, and we do. Now that we have additional space, we will be adding wide format.”

Lee worked with Mechell on a transition plan and met face to face with the top 50 customers, and together they were able to communicate the positive change. The transition plan included a letter campaign to all customers overviewing the transition and benefits. Now Lee’s AlphaGraphicsbusiness is primed to grow even more rapidly.

Looking back on his career, Lee says he’s thrilled with his decision to become an entrepreneur by joining the AlphaGraphics Network.

“I don’t miss corporate America at all. I tell anyone who will listen that everything I did in my career prepared me for what I’m doing now,” he says. “My degrees in advertising, background in sales and marketing, managing a sales force, being held accountable to growth goals – all of that is applicable to what I’m doing today. I’m just doing it for myself.”

If you’re working with candidates who are looking at opportunities to apply their experience and skill set to a business of their own, we’d love to talk with you about AlphaGraphics.

Comments Off on Growth Through Acquisition: How Mark Lee Doubled His Business

June 16th, 2015

Competition is tough in the franchise industry. Hear how AlphaGraphics comes out on top in this video!

Common themes emerge among our Franchisees who were formerly corporate leaders: less travel, a six-figure income, tired of working for someone else and ready to apply their expertise and talent to their own business. Here are a few of them speaking about their experience and why they settled on AlphaGraphics.

 

AlphaGraphics is growing, and we’re selectively recruiting successful executives who are interested in owning their own businesses. As we talk to business brokers and coaches about the benefits associated with joining our network of over 250 independently owned AlphaGraphics Business Centers, some common questions have emerged.

In this short video, our Franchisees address these questions directly. Take a minute to listen to what they have to say about their experiences, and the results they’ve seen as members of theAlphaGraphics Network. It could be the perfect fit for one of your clients.

We invite you to visit our website, blog and Facebook page for more information, including more real-life examples from Franchisees, other business brokers, our leadership and staff, small business funding partners and others.

If you’d like to talk in more detail, please reply to this message or call us at (801) 595-7259. Thanks very much for your consideration.

Comments Off on Competition is tough in the franchise industry. Hear how AlphaGraphics comes out on top in this video!

May 16th, 2015

Why AlphaGraphics?

They come from different backgrounds, but all were leaving the corporate world because they wanted to own a business. Hear from some of our longest-tenured Franchisees on why they choseAlphaGraphics, and what the results have been.

AlphaGraphics is growing, and we’re selectively recruiting successful executives who are interested in owning their own businesses. As we talk to business brokers and coaches about the benefits associated with joining our network of over 250 independently owned AlphaGraphics Business Centers, some common questions have emerged.

In this short video, our Franchisees address these questions directly. Take a minute to listen to what they have to say about their experiences, and the results they’ve seen as members of theAlphaGraphics Network.  It could be the perfect fit for one of your clients.

We invite you to visit our website and Facebook page for more information, including more real-life examples from Franchisees, other business brokers, our leadership and staff, small business funding partners and others.

If you’d like to talk in more detail, please reply to this message or call us at (801) 595-7259. Thanks very much for your consideration.

Comments Off on Why AlphaGraphics?

February 5th, 2015

New AG President Named

The AlphaGraphics Board of Directors announced in a press release Monday that Aaron Grohs will be the new President of AlphaGraphics, effective February 15.

Aaron brings more than 15 years of executive print operations, sales, and marketing leadership to our company. His most recent experience included multiple roles overseeing the operational performance of eight Consolidated Graphics local operating companies while simultaneously serving as Executive Vice President, Sales and Marketing, for the entire CGX operation.

unnamed (1)

“We are confident that Aaron is the right choice to lead AlphaGraphics Onward and Upward, building upon AlphaGraphics’ strong legacy in the print community,” said Gay Burke, Board Chair and Interim President. She will continue to serve as Executive Chair of the company and looks forward to working with Aaron.

“It is an honor to be joining the AlphaGraphics team on Feb 15,” said Aaron. “AlphaGraphics is a great company with a with an incredible franchise network. It is an exciting time to be in the print and marketing services industry. The innovative technology available today provides us with an opportunity to be a world-class print and marketing solutions provider to our customers. I couldn’t be more excited to work alongside the great people at AlphaGraphics and continue the success the company has experienced.”

The company is planning some regional tours for Aaron, and he looks forward to meeting the entire AlphaGraphics team at Conference 2015 in Washington, D.C.

Comments Off on New AG President Named

January 28th, 2015

Be our guest at our upcoming Discovery Day…

On February 11th -13th we will host a Discovery Day event for independents like you to learn more about the AlphaGraphics Value Proposition and how we can help you either grow and prosper, or build a more successful exit strategy. We are seeking new partners in your market.

Take a peak at the topics the agenda covers:

1. Technology and R&D Support
2. Center Level Marketing Programs
3. AlphaGraphics’s Unique Selling Proposition
4. Becoming a Marketing Service Provider
5. OnBoarding & Network Support Structure
6. AlphaGraphics’s Proprietary Funding Assistance Programs
7. Owner & Team Training Programs
8. Business Development & Outside Sales Systems
9. Operations & Workflow Assistance
10. Visit 3 Local Centers and Franchisee Q&A Sessions

2014 was a strong year for our Franchisee Partners.  We are ready for a great 2015, and interested in partnering with you to grow together.

Please join us in February to learn if the AlphaGraphics Opportunity fits your goals and business plan. The trip is on us, there is no commitment by coming – we simply invite you to come take a peek first hand. Email or call, Kelley Rieves AlphaGraphics Independent Business Recruiter, today if you’re interested in joining us. <krieves@alphagraphics.com>

 

We forward to hearing from you!

 

Comments Off on Be our guest at our upcoming Discovery Day…

April 23rd, 2014

Sales & Marketing Exec Becomes Latest AG Franchise Partner

Screen Shot 2014-04-23 at 8.31.37 AMRalph Umbriano went to college determined to become an attorney, but a low draft number and the prospect of heading to Vietnam caused a change in direction. He jumped into a machine design program, the draft ended, and he was soon offered a chance to go to work designing engineered sealing devices for the industrial market.

The Rhode Island native did product design, provided technical sales support and assumed the role of Sales Engineer with EG&G Sealol, a division of a Fortune 500 company.  Umbriano set sales records, climbing the ladder and continuing to take on more management responsibilities, including Global Business Element Manager and Marketing Director — roles that had him spending more than 25 percent of his time in Europe and elsewhere.  They put him through extensive training, including Kellogg Executive Marketing and Leadership Development programs, among others.

When EG&G was acquired, he decided to work with another company in the industry, A.W. Chesterton, where he streamlined the marketing and strategic accounts functions from five divisions into one and oversaw 45 people.  He had spent a career focused on consultative, solution-based selling and marketing, but with his wife running a successful retail store, the corporate life was getting old.

“The climate was changing, and the corporate approach was getting to be too impersonal,” Umbriano said. “I wanted to get back to a more hands-on approach, with direct responsibility for running a business, and I needed to be with my family. It was time to do something different.”

He knew he wanted to use his sales and marketing background in a business-to-business environment, and he recognized that the “printing” industry had become a dynamic marketplace. A business broker introduced him to AlphaGraphics.

“I didn’t have any pre-conceived notions, other than I wanted a comprehensive approach, something that brought value to customers, something that could be built upon,” he said. “A number of opportunities were presented to me, but AlphaGraphics was really attractive. I visited with others in the industry, and felt that AG was the best positioned for the future.“

Now having purchased an AlphaGraphics Business Center in Framingham, Mass., he says his marketing background offers an easy transition to helping other small businesses succeed—focusing on processes and efficiencies and cost savings, from a marketing standpoint.

“It’s a higher-level mindset, a step above in terms of approach,” Umbriano said. “Nobody was filling that gap, and AlphaGraphics recognized the opportunity. This isn’t about printing… it’s about helping businesses build an identity. I’m still working with customers to make them better as I have for 30 years, but now I’m doing it through my own company.”

Comments Off on Sales & Marketing Exec Becomes Latest AG Franchise Partner

July 15th, 2013

Future Looks Bright for Franchise Financing

Michael Brown is AlphaGraphics’ development director for acquisitions, real estate and financing – the guy who helps get the deal done for franchisees. As such, he has unique perspective on the current economic client for entrepreneurs. And he sees good signs on the horizon.

“It used to be that you could just about walk into any bank with a decent FICO score and a reasonable net worth and get whatever you wanted without a problem,” Brown says. “The Recession changed all that. Today, there are no guarantees, but it appears that we are headed into a period where it will be easier to secure financing than it has been in recent years.”

Brown says AlphaGraphics’ failure rate is very low, something that brings credibility to the table. It’s his job to go out and sell the AG story to prospective lenders.

“Our franchisee success rate is very high, which says a lot about AlphaGraphics as a company and the level of support that we provide,” he says. “Whereas we used to work primarily with three or four lenders, now we’re working with a dozen or more. We’ve expanded the pool to provide more opportunities to our owners.”

Part of Brown’s role is to find innovative financing, non-conventional means by which to put together deals that make dreams come true. For instance, some franchisees are leaving the corporate world and rolling 401(k) funds into self-directed IRAs, or C-corps that can use those funds now to finance a business without paying early-withdrawal taxes or penalties. Companies like Benetrans and Guidant Financial are helping with the transactions, and it’s an option that more than 50 percent of AG’s new franchisees are taking advantage of.

“A lot of new franchisees don’t know how much money they need or how to fund it – whether they are going to open a new center, purchase an existing one or even convert an independent print shop – and that’s where we can help,” he says. “It’s important to start these conversations early, and we can help guide you through the process.”

Brown says interest rates are starting to increase but are still at a very competitive 6% to 9%, versus the 3% to 5% at the historic lows.

1 Comment »

May 15th, 2013

HP Indigo Partnership Driving Down Cost for AG Owners, Customers

AlphaGraphics Vendor Services facilitator Joe Wise has been watching the monthly volume metrics for some time now, waiting for the magic moment when 17 AG owners across the network would reap the rewards of a reduced production cost for the HP Indigo. It happened last month.

“This is a fantastic piece of equipment, and we were able to get many of them for about half off of the retail price as a result of the franchise network buying power,” Wise said. “But once we crossed six million multicolor impressions a month, the per-piece production cost on these went from five cents to four. That’s a lot of pennies.”

It’s $63,000 in savings, per month, to be exact, spread across the Indigo users group. The 17 owners have worked closely together, meeting on a monthly basis to develop strategies that grow sales. Wise says he’s seen their efforts pay off since those meetings began.

“Over the past couple of years, it’s been the capability of the equipment that’s attracted attention – these franchises are maximizing the machine – so the fact that we’ve done enough volume to drive down cost is a real bonus.”

The HP Indigo digital press runs heavier stock weights in four-color process with a range of synthetic and natural paper options. Wise says the units rarely need service, and maintenance is typically something the owners can do themselves.

Comments Off on HP Indigo Partnership Driving Down Cost for AG Owners, Customers