Local Missouri Sportscaster Takes Rapid Refill To An ‘Elite’ Level

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Local Missouri Sportscaster Takes Rapid Refill To An ‘Elite’ Level

 news 2015-07-02 at 11:56:57 am Views: 327
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    Local Missouri Sportscaster Takes Rapid Refill To An ‘Elite’ Level

    Anyone who has ever listened to a Northwest Missouri State Bearcat basketball or football game on the radio has heard Matt Gaarder. When Gaarder graduated from Northwest, he thought that sports broadcasting was his dream job. He received his first job at KUTT in Fairbury, Nebraska doing play-by-play for high school sports and Doane College.

     “I had done radio in high school and my dad had a little bit of a radio background,” Gaarder said. “I enjoyed sports and that’s probably why I did that in college. It probably wasn’t until after college that I thought it would be fun to own a business.”
    Matt Gaarder.

    After spending two years in Fairbury, Gaarder returned to Maryville in 1999 and worked at Nodaway Broadcasting as the News and Sports Director. During this time, Gaarder’s itch to become an entrepreneur shifted into high gear.

    “I was looking online for refill equipment to refill my own ink cartridges,” Gaarder said. “I stumbled upon Rapid Refill and kind of looked into them. They were a franchise and I had always wanted to own a business. I just never knew what it was going to be.”

    The possibility of owning a Rapid Refill intrigued Gaarder and he took a trip to the corporate headquarters in Minnesota. After visiting with corporate executives and learning the business model of Rapid Refill, Gaarder realized this was it.

    “Rapid Refill is something that Maryville didn’t have,” Gaarder said. “I thought it would work well and we were the smallest market of any of the Rapid Refills.”

    Gaarder’s dream of owning a business came true in 2010 when he, along with his wife, Sherry, opened his Rapid Refill branch in Maryville. The Gaarders owned the business for three years while he still worked at Nodaway Broadcasting until the business was up and running. However, just like any other small business owner, Gaarder ran into a few obstacles early on.

    “I think the biggest obstacle in the remanufactured ink business is that there’s a lot of bad quality refills out there,” Gaarder said. “People had run into that and the difference with us is that our suppliers are thoroughly tested on a constant basis to make sure their product is good quality. That was the biggest hurdle, people didn’t trust refilled ink cartridges and I understood that.”

    With just around 12,000 people living in Maryville, the idea of a refill ink cartridge business can sound a bit odd. But Gaarder said when he started the business the opportunities presented themselves

    “When you think of the time in 2010, the economy was tough, really tough, it’s not a ton better now, but it was at a low point then,” Gaarder said. “Most of the time you would think that starting a business during a bad economy would be a bad idea. However, when you talk about saving businesses 40 or 50 percent on something they spend money on, it’s a viable business opportunity.”

    It has been five years since the first Rapid Refill store opened down by Hy-Vee in June 2010 and a lot has changed. Gaarder moved the business uptown next to The Pub and Benelli’s Pizzeria where it has been since 2013. Also in 2013, Gaarder parted ways with Nodaway Broadcasting and put a lot more of his focus on Rapid Refill.

    “There was a study done for the city probably a year or two before we moved,” Gaarder said. “One of the things it did was study downtown and one thing the study showed was an office supply store would fit well in not only any downtown, but especially Maryville’s downtown. I took that information for what it was worth and I thought well we’re an office supply store, let’s give it a shot.”

    Gaarder had accomplished his goal of running his own business, he owned the building Rapid Refill is in and was still able to do sports broadcasting, but another opportunity then presented itself.

    “Last year, Rapid Refill, the overall franchise, discussed wanting the locations to get into printing services,” Gaarder said. “Some of the locations had been doing that and had success with it. With me being downtown and knowing that Rod Couts was over at Accent Printing and Advertising, I didn’t really want to compete with him. He’s been around for years. It would’ve been hard for me to compete and it’s already here.”

    After a while, Gaarder found out that Couts was close to retirement and was hoping that Couts would think of him when he got to that point.

    Gaarder’s luck continued because six months ago Gaarder received the opportunity to buy out of the Rapid Refill franchise. With the business now being completely independent, Gaarder’s ability to expand was in reach.

    “Rod approached me and asked me what I thought about taking on the printing, copying and the shipping side of his operation,” Gaarder said. “I said ‘That’s exactly what I was hoping to hear someday.’ We started working on it and hammered out all of the details.”

    As of Monday, Gaarder’s Rapid Refill has expanded into the multifaceted business, Rapid Elite. The newly-named business acquired Xpress Solutions, the packing and shipping division of Accent. The shipping services will include UPS and FedEx and the sale of boxes, tape and packaging materials.

    Rapid Elite will now offer ink supplies, printing, copying and shipping opportunities to its customers. Accent Printing & Advertising will now become Accent Advertising & Signs.  

    Gaarder’s dream of owning his own business came true five years ago, but the dream is far from over. He owns his own business and has had the opportunity to expand the business and help downtown Maryville grow.

    “Everyday, you’re always nervously excited about the day,” Gaarder said. “You’re nervously excited about the day, it’s adventure. It’s a blast and I get to work with a lot more people, networking with business owners and customers that come into the store. A two-minute transaction turns into a 20 minute (conversation) about the Bearcats. So the interaction with the customers is huge and I feel that sense of freedom (every) entrepreneur wants. It’s not easy, but it’s enjoyable.”

    Gaarder continues to work for the Bearcat Radio Network, KXCV-KRNW, and Northwest Athletics for play-by-play and color commentary for football and basketball games, but he has realized that sports broadcasting was always more of a hobby for him.

    “I don’t think when we have to do games or the coaches show that this is work, it’s something fun,” Gaarder said. “What do people do on the weekends when they are working, they go to Bearcat games. I’ve always joked with people that I want to make sure I keep doing the Bearcat games because then Sherry can’t tell me I can’t go to the game for some reason. I don’t think she ever would, but it’s always been the running joke.”

    When Gaarder started his business, he had doubt, just like any other small business owner has. However, he was given some helpful advice. He was told that if you can make it past your first three years, your chances of success increase by 50 percent. If he made it to five years, his chances of success would increase again and he’s hit that five-year milestone.

    Gaarder always goes back to his original idea when he opened the store back in 2010, and the same idea rings true today even with the new shipping and copying sections of Rapid Elite.

    “I’ve always told my sales people just get a cartridge in the printer,” Gaarder said. “Let people see our cartridges are the same, they act the same. Once we were able to build that trust and people saw our product was different than what you order off the Internet. We gained people’s trust.”