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Relatively new management, a new corporate headquarters and an eye toward growth is breathing new life into SpeedPro Imaging, a large format graphics franchise company that’s been around for more than 20 years.
Boris Katsnelson, president and CEO, bought the business from its original owner about a year ago and earlier this year relocated its corporate headquarters to Denver from Phoenix. Along with his background in finance and investment banking, Katsnelson says he has also worked with companies on the operational side of things and he enjoys helping business owners succeed.
SpeedPro Imaging specializes in wide format printing, creating everything from trade show graphics and wall murals to vehicle wraps. Katsnelson says that he and Steven Brown, his vice president of operations and also a stakeholder in the company, were looking for an investment opportunity with the possibility of strong growth and they believe they found it in SpeedPro Imaging.
“We looked at over 200 opportunities in five months before this crossed our desk,” says Katsnelson.
The industry average for growth in the large format printing industry is about 6 percent annually, Katsnelson explains. SpeedPro, however, has been experiencing double-digit growth, and its new owners plan to almost double the number of existing franchises in the next five years.
“We want to grow the business,” says Katsnelson, who once worked for billionaire entrepreneur Philip Anschutz. “We want to improve and help our franchises grow.”
Moving the company’s corporate offices is just one of the behind-the-scenes steps Katsnelson and his team have taken to position SpeedPro for expansion.
The company has invested significantly in software upgrades to assist their existing franchisees and attract new ones. Management is also reaching out to its franchisees more, both to be transparent about their progress and to help them with tips that will help grow their businesses.
“The way we seem to be getting the most traction is live and pre-recorded webinars,” says Brown.
He and Katsnelson also do a weekly video address that they send out to all franchisees.
“What we’re really trying to do is drive a lot of things out of corporate that hadn’t been done the past few years,” Katsnelson says.
Starting early next year the Denver offices will also play host to training seminars for franchisees, he says.
SpeedPro Imaging charges new franchises an initial fee of $49,900 and then another $149,000 for everything else one would need to get started. “We say paper clips to printers,” Katsnelson says.
Regional developers across the country work with the individual franchisees. Gina Skeim is the regional developer for Colorado. A former SpeedPro franchisee, she says and her counterparts around the country pair new shop owners with existing SpeedPro franchisees in what she calls a “buddy program.”
“Each of the regional developers bring their own skills, because they’re all business owners,” says Skeim, adding that some of them still own their franchises and some, like her, have sold theirs.
Aside from serving as a regional developer Skeim also serves as director of business support for the entire company.
SpeedPro differs from some other sign and graphics companies in that it recommends its franchisees locate in what the company calls “off retail” sites; in other words, an office park, as opposed to a strip mall.
While there’s nothing wrong with one-off jobs, Katsnelson says, that’s not what SpeedPro recommends to its franchisees for them to be successful.
“We want businesses who are repeat customers – that’s who we go after,” he says.
SpeedPro currently has about 120 studios located in 30 states, and plans are to grow that number to 200 by 2020. To drive that growth, they’re looking for potential franchisees who, like the CEO, don’t necessarily have a graphics-related background.
Making large format graphics and signage can be taught easily enough, Katsnelson says, but basic business skills are just as important as learning how to choose the right substrate.
“A lot of creatives are in the sign and graphics business but not often a lot of business people,” says Katsnelson. “We want people that have really strong business acumen.”