By Ed Avis
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Carl Byrne was green before it was cool to be green.
The owner of Printing by Evergreen, a reprographics shop outside Washington, D.C., remembers that his parents, who grew up during the Depression, hated throwing things away. “So it’s just part of my DNA to find ways to avoid waste,” Byrne says.
That DNA has played an important role in making Printing by Evergreen, and the other reprographics-related companies Byrne owns, Evergreen Technologies and DSC, succeed.
The Demand for Parts
Byrne got his start in the reprographics field in 1975 as a technician for Xerox Engineering Systems. He enjoyed a 30-year career at the company, the last few as a regional service manager. By the time he left, Xerox had started de-emphasizing engineering copiers (Xerox left the business altogether in 2011). It may not have seemed like it at the time, but Xerox’s waning interest in engineering copiers eventually presented an opportunity to Byrne, who had made contacts with dealers and technicians across the country.
Byrne’s next move was to RPG, a reprographics firm in Laurel, Maryland. He started there in 2006, and over the next two-and-a-half years he got a close look at the challenges dealers faced sourcing parts to repair Xerox equipment as the manufacturer backed away from the technology.
“I had worked with dealers when I was at Xerox, but working at RPG I learned about the dealers’ situation firsthand,” he remembers.
Solving the Problem
By 2009 Byrne sensed a real opportunity in the parts and remanufactured copier business. He left RPG and launched a company to satisfy that demand, Evergreen Technologies.
He researched companies that made parts for other technology that could be repurposed as copier parts, and in some cases arranged for custom parts to be made.
“For example, I found some companies that made parts for small-format copiers that were basically the same, just smaller, than the parts used in large-format equipment,” he says.
As he found suppliers, he sent samples of the parts to the dealers he knew across the country, and slowly developed a client base. He asked them what other parts they were having trouble sourcing and started supplying those, too.
The result was that a lot of old Xerox equipment that may have been mothballed is still operating. “That really satisfies my urge not to waste things,” Byrne says.
Last year another supply opportunity presented itself: DSC, a paper converter in Beltsville, Maryland, went on the market. Byrne acquired the company in May, which gave him another important product line and a large building that was underused.
Printing by Evergreen
The extra space in DSC’s facility led to an idea: Why not complete the loop and open a reprographics shop? Thus Printing by Evergreen, housed in DSC’s Beltsville location, was born in June.
It’s a natural extension for the company, since many clients who buy the paper from DSC and equipment parts from Evergreen also need prints.
“Now when our sales folks are out looking for equipment and media business, they also can sell printing,” Byrne says. “It’s all interconnected and leading to opportunities in all of those areas.”
Naturally, Byrne has extended his environmental sensibilities to Printing by Evergreen. He prints on recycled-content bond at virtually the same cost as on virgin bond.
“The previous owner of DSC, George Lettis, found a paper mill that specializes in recycled paper,” Byrne says. “Even though we’re paying a small premium for that, we have an advantage because we’re converting the media. So we can absorb that additional cost and still make a reasonable profit.”
Printing by Evergreen has found a ready market for the prints on recycled paper. For example, some federal government clients prefer prints on recycled paper if the cost is within 7 percent of the cost of prints on virgin bond. Since Printing by Evergreen doesn’t charge any extra for those prints, the work from those clients has grown.
Even non-governmental clients like using recycled paper, if only because of the green characteristic. “They like being able to improve their green program without an added cost,” Byrne says. “They’re doing something good and it doesn’t cost them anything.”
The firm is doing other things in a green way as well. For example, Byrne replaced several old delivery vehicles with new fuel-efficient models. He also bought a small van for deliveries that don’t require the company’s old 18-foot box truck. “We’ve saved enough fuel using that van instead of the truck to make the payments on the van,” Byrne says.
Color CAD Rising
The workhorse in Prints by Evergreen is a Xerox IJP 2000, which is driven by Memjet technology (read more about this technology here: http://www.irga.com/memjet%3A-what-does-it-mean-for-reprographics%3F/). Byrne reports that 60 percent of the firm’s work – color and monochrome – comes off the machine.
“One large architectural firm that was a customer of DSC’s told us they were outsourcing their printing, so we bid on it and got the contract,” Byrne says. “We tested their files on a number of machines and they much preferred the prints from the Memjet, even the monochrome prints. And they preferred the recycled media, which produces a slightly better image on an inkjet printer than virgin media.”
The IJP 2000, like other large-format Memjet printers, prints color and monochrome at basically the same cost and speed. That’s an advantage when a client needs a little color – for example, one client needs color in the title block of drawings and sometimes nowhere else – because the Memjet handles those prints efficiently.
The trend of printing CAD drawings in color, which has slowly gained ground over the past year, will help Printing by Evergreen.
Byrne recounts a client in the cable TV business telling him that color in their printed maps is greatly appreciated by field technicians. “He showed me a little symbol they use on their maps and said, ‘Find one of these on a black-and-white print.’ Then he showed me the same map in color, and of course it was a lot easier to find that little symbol because it was printed in green. So I can see that there is a very practical aspect to color CAD prints.”
Business is climbing at Printing by Evergreen and Byrne’s other reprographics businesses, but his idealism still takes precedent.
“It’s never just been about business for me,” he reports. “I want to treat people right, help our customers, and help the planet.”