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.”

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