FORMER EXEC RECHARGES WITH RAPID REFILL

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FORMER EXEC RECHARGES WITH RAPID REFILL

 user 2006-11-20 at 10:39:00 am Views: 59
  • #16911

    Former IT executive recharges career with Rapid Refill
    Kiran
    Gullapelli, opened his first Rapid Refill Ink store in Herndon, Va., in
    February. The Oregon-based Rapid Refill chain specializes in refilling
    and retail sales of inkjet and laser toner cartridges for printers,
    copiers and fax machines.

    HERNDON,
    Va. — Kiran Gullapalli has had his eyes on the printer cartridge refill
    industry for years. Earlier this year, he finally took the leap,
    opening up his first Rapid Refill Ink store — and he couldn’t be
    happier about it.The Springfield, Oregon-based Rapid Refill specializes
    in remanufacturing/refilling and retail sales of inkjet and laser toner
    cartridges for printers, copiers, fax machines and all-in-one machines
    for both consumers and businesses. The chain boasts savings on
    cartridges that range from 30 percent to 70 percent. Typical stores
    also carry over 1,000 different inkjet cartridges and 200 models of
    laser toner cartridges.Rapid Refill opened its first store in November
    2002. Franchising began in January 2004. The chain now has over 40
    stores in more than a dozen states. It expects to add 150 locations
    next year and 250 locations in 2008, according to the company. Recently
    stores have opened in California, Delaware, Florida, Louisiana,
    Michigan, Minnesota, New Mexico, Tennessee and Washington.Gullapalli
    opened his first Rapid Refill store in Herndon, Va., in February. He
    already has plans to open five more.According to him, the process that
    Rapid Refill uses to refill cartridges is what really has him sold on
    the concept.He said that it negates the negative conceptions about the
    industry because it is not a “while-you-wait refill” or some kind of
    “gimmick.” Customers of Rapid Refill drop off their cartridges and the
    cartridges are first soaked for eight hours to thoroughly clean them
    before the refill process, which is done in house. Cartridges are also
    tested in house before returned to customers.”I really like the process
    of Rapid Refill,” Gullapalli said. “This is not baking a sandwich —
    there is a real process involved.”Gullapalli first became interested in
    the printer cartridge refill industry in 1994 when he read a story
    about it. An IT executive specializing in business intelligence,
    Gullapalli came to the United States from Hyderabad, India, in 1991 and
    worked for a number of companies, including the Environmental
    Protection Agency and Fannie Mae. He also started his own consulting
    business. About two years ago, though, he started to consider franchise
    options and really liked what he saw in the printer cartridge refill
    industry and in Rapid Refill in particular.”I needed something which
    offered me growth and at the same time an industry where there is huge
    potential,” he said.According to industry estimates, by 2005 there were
    360 million inkjet printers installed and 308 million remanufactured
    cartridges are expected to be sold by the end of 2006.Gullapalli had no
    qualms about leaving the IT industry behind. “It is a different world,
    but there is so much growth potential,” he added.His Rapid Refill is
    the first location in Herndon and though he said getting the business
    off the ground is ongoing process, business is picking up and is going
    well now.According to him, about 70 percent of the work is with
    businesses, while walk-in customers make up the rest of his store’s
    sales. Gullapalli is working hard going out in the local community to
    connect with potential customers. He also counts on current customers
    to spread the word and promote Rapid Refill.”People look at it and try
    it and once they try it they will continue to buy,” he said.He believes
    that more stores will increase the exposure and reach of Rapid Refill.
    “We want to reach out to more customers,” he added.Rapid Refill places
    an emphasis on the environmentally friendly nature of the business. The
    company emphasizes that its biggest impact is ultimately the millions
    of inkjet and laser toner cartridges it keeps out of landfills. It
    points to data that says in the United States nearly eight cartridges
    are thrown away every second. In addition, plastic toner requires 3.5
    quarts of oil to produce and inkjet cartridges use 2.5 ounces of
    oil.Even the décor of Rapid Refill fits the recycling theme: the
    carpeting in Rapid Refill stores is 52 percent post-consumer content
    and made in part from recycled milk containers.The walls are made of
    100 percent wheat stock and the countertops from compressed sunflower
    seeds. The flooring in production areas comes from reclaimed tile and
    brochures are printed on recycled paper.Rapid Refill also offers a
    recycling fundraising program for charitable organizations, schools,
    churches and groups to earn from $1 to $3 for each used cartridge
    collected. Empties are picked up weekly and checks sent out monthly.
    Actively participating organizations can earn an average of $100 each
    month.Gullapalli believes that the emphasis on the recycling and
    helping the environment creates an atmosphere that lets customers know
    that Rapid Refill is not just about making a buck on printer
    cartridges.”They really see that we walk the talk,” he said. “We not
    only refill, but we also recycle.”Gullapalli said his passion for
    environmental issues and his interest in running his own business
    really makes the Rapid Refill concept the perfect choice for him. “This
    is what I really believe in. I’m really satisfied with what I’m doing
    and it saves the customers money,” he said.