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 user 2009-10-13 at 11:36:07 am Views: 38
  • #22662

    Veteran and teacher focuses on changing the ink ‘game’
    Buying new ink cartridges can be more of a game than customers bargain for at times, said Larry Cummings, which is why his new family-owned business, The Ink Spot Refills, focuses on refilling used ink cartridges.”Many people never thought (about) refilling cartridges…the savings is really a great deal,” he said.A Korean War veteran and former teacher who holds a bachelors, masters and Ph.D. , Cummings approaches the ink business from an educational angle.Located in St. Clair Plaza, The Ink Spot Refills focuses on saving money and educating customers about the “game” some companies play when it comes to purchasing or refilling ink.Cummings said learning the game comes down to reading the fine print. “(People) don’t realize the hidden language on their cartridge boxes and materials with their printer.”

    According to Cummings, with some companies the fine print only allows the customer to purchase ink cartridges from the original manufacturer, leaving the customer at the mercy of manufacturer pricing. Cummings gets upset when “people are forced into that pattern,” he said.Cummings said there are special, legal exceptions to return, rebate and pre-bate approaches with some manufacturers-specifically Lexmark- when it comes to refilling cartridges. But the exception is never the rule, and these exceptions are difficult to find at times. “I do plan to carry a supply of the exceptional cartridge that can be refilled (at The Ink Spot as opposed to the original manufacturer), but they are very difficult to find,” he said.

    Understanding the game and staying ahead of the game go hand-in-hand for The Ink Spot Refills. “We try to stay 40 to 60 percent lower on our refills than the purchase price at (department stores),” he said. Most black cartridges can be refilled for $10.99 and color ink jet cartridges for $14.99.While The Ink Spot is geared toward refilling cartridges, the store does offer manufactured cartridges for a lower price than other businesses as well, Cummings said.Yet another avenue for saving money on ink is through schools and the county government, Cumming said. “There is such potential for great savings to the taxpayer and the school districts if they would refill cartridges instead of going out and buying new ones,” he said.

    When he gets the chance, Cummings tries to spend time outside of the store talking to schools and county government entities to explain the benefits of the refill process. According to Cummings, thousands of dollars -at least-could be trimmed from school and county budgets just by refilling ink cartridges.It helps that Cummings has spent 50 years of his life working within the school system, first as head basketball coach, high school teacher, federal bureau prison teacher, college professor, assistant professor, assistant dean, and finally, chairman of the department of criminal justice. Cummings retired from teaching two years ago after finding someone to fill his temporary position as chair of the Kent State Criminal Justice department.Cummings became interested in ink over the years after having to fill his own cartridges with a syringe. “(Around) eight years ago I inquired about a franchise with Island refills…but the costs were beyond me,” he said.

    Then, in early 2009, Cummings returned to his interest in ink. After much research Cummings decided to form his own company, Cummings & Cummings LLC, and acquire the trade name The Ink Spot Refills for the state of Ohio. He and his son Gregory share the responsibility of running the store. Cummings’ wife and daughter are also included in Cummings & Cummings LLC.Running the business has been a learning experience for both him and his son. “It staggers my imagination when I think of the challenge of being able to fill all of the cartridges that exist out there in the ink jet area,” he said.It typically takes 30 minutes to refill a cartridge at The Ink Spot Refills, although an hour is preferred, Cummings said. “We go through a very rigorous, step-by-step process of cleaning the heads with an atomizer and an ultrasound machine…we then centrifuge to get the old ink out of the cartridge and then fill the cartridge,” Cummings said. That process is then repeated and a test pattern is run. “We have 12 different printers in the back to test the cartridge,” he said.

    At the best of circumstances the process can be done in 15 minutes, but Cummings encourages customers to allow for more time for the best results.Customers with laser toner cartridges are urged to contact the store prior to when they need them, as it takes a few days for them to be ordered. The Ink Spot Refills does not refill laser toner cartridges, but does carry a supply of manufactured ones, and can order them for a customer if The Ink Spot Refills is not currently carrying the cartridge.