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NRI Brooklyn Location
NRI Brooklyn Location
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NRI's 3D lab
NRI's 3D lab
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NRI Techsuite trailer
NRI Techsuite trailer
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People who say reprographics is a tradition-bound industry have not visited the website of NRI, the New York-based reprographics firm. A full-width rendering of a circular, glass-enclosed building dominates the top of the home page, lending the site a modernistic look. But more important is the order of tabs across the top: 3D Printing is first, followed by Creative Visuals, On-Site Services, Document Management, and finally Reprographics.
NRI has moved so far beyond its roots – the company was founded as National Blueprint Company in 1898 – that new lines of business such as 3D printing and on-site services get most of the attention.
“I think we have to focus on being innovative today,” says Doug Magid, NRI’s president. “I think everybody in our industry has to be an innovator today if we want to survive and be successful tomorrow.”
Not only has the company expanded into new lines of business, but it also has expanded beyond its New York roots. It now has 11 locations across the country, including shops in Memphis, Chicago, Atlanta, and San Francisco.
Below is an edited interview with Magid about NRI, its innovations, and its expansion.
IRgA: Tell us about Techsuite, your new service for outfitting construction trailers with technology such as plotters, interactive whiteboards, LCD monitors, and construction site video cameras.
Magid: We started that officially about a year ago, when we signed a contract with Williams Scotsman, a global construction trailer company. We provide a wide range of technology for their clients in their trailers. At this point it is growing pretty rapidly.
Of course, whenever you work with a partner firm there are challenges. Training the partner how to position your products and services is always a process. That being said, we are very involved in those sales processes – we are not just handing it off to Williams Scotsman. Williams Scotsman is introducing the products and services, but we are there every step of the way.
IRgA: NRI is becoming known for your 3D printing services. Tell us about that.
Magid: We’ve been in 3D printing over a decade now, a lot longer than most service providers. The majority of our 3D business is for AEC clients, but more and more our clients are coming from anywhere and everywhere. In addition to our traditional sales team, we have 3D experts who play a role in the sales process and most of those individuals don’t come from an AEC background – they come from product design, toy design, industrial design – so they are approaching those markets.
Our 3D equipment is in multiple locations, because we want to be able to provide that kind of fast turn-around and high service level that our clients are accustomed to.
For me, the most exciting part of the business today is 3D. I love it; it’s a great industry to be involved in.
IRgA: In light all these new innovations, how large of a role does traditional reprographics still play in NRI’s business?
Magid: If you include FM, which is the biggest single department in our business, we are probably still 80 percent in that world. But the percentage of non-repro has been climbing each year, and I don’t see that trend changing.
IRgA: Why did NRI expand from its historic base in New York?
Magid: We only started growing beyond New York in 2001. Geographic expansion was a strategic decision for us. We had always been happy and had ample room for growth operating solely in New York, but with the advent of national competitors we felt that we needed to also expand our reach. Also a lot of our clientele had multiple offices across the U.S. and we wanted to be able to continue to serve them and others like them.
Our first acquisition was of Color Imaging Center in Washington DC. That was really a launch pad to expand our business there.
IRgA: What have you looked for when choosing an acquisition?
Magid: The first question is, ‘Is this a geography we want to be in?’ We’re not looking for expansion for the sake of expansion. We’re looking to make pinpoint expansions into cities that make sense for us. And for us that means large urban areas. That’s where we’ve grown up, where we’ve been successful, and that’s were the firms we are serving are generally found.
The second factor we look at is the size of the business. We generally are more interested in a business that at least has enough of a customer base to help us get started in a market. We have found that it’s very difficult to make money in a market when your business is below a certain size.
The third thing is fit. We’re looking for companies that share our values and our philosophy. We are generally looking for very client-service focused companies that have excellent reputations in their markets, among their clients, and within the industry.
In addition, we could be interested in companies that have something unique that we don’t have, or that excel in something we don’t excel in. For example, we acquired Triangle in Princeton, New Jersey because their business was more focused on color than ours and we felt we could gain a lot of experience and knowledge from them in that area.
Sometimes we are looking not to expand to our reach in a new market, but to grow in our existing market by acquiring another firm. Combining forces in an existing city can be very powerful.
IRgA: Do you plan future expansion?
Magid: I think the outlook for the future is that we remain interested in businesses in our existing geographies, because I think those kinds of acquisitions make a lot of sense. We are not currently looking to expand into new cities. We also are looking into business areas from which we can grow and gain new skills and abilities.