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 user 2005-08-29 at 10:20:00 am Views: 73
  • #12504

    Rapid Refill Ink is the newest player in market of remanufacturing ink, toner containers.

    Consumers will have plenty of options when it comes to buying ink
    cartridges for their printers and saving the planet. Three national
    franchises have set up shop in Southeast Michigan and plan to expand
    their recycling, refilling and remanufacturing operations in the coming

    The newest player, Rapid Refill Ink, opened its first Michigan location
    this summer in Lathrup Village and attracted Gail Patrick of Wolverine
    Packing in Detroit. Patrick’s company recycles cartridges every couple
    of weeks and she said they save 10 to 15 percent compared with their
    previous vendor.

    “They have very prompt service and if I need something, they can be
    here within hours,” Patrick said about Rapid Refill’s free delivery to

    Rapid Refill enters a market with at least two international
    competitors: Australia’s Cartridge World with 15 stores in Michigan,
    and Canada’s Island Ink-Jet with two state locations.

    “People love the concept and they love saving money,” said Heather
    Meyer, who operates the Rapid Refill Ink franchise with Dave Smith. “We
    offer a great deal of savings to business owners and consumers. If we
    can remanufacture their ink or toner cartridge, they can save 40 to 70

    The 1,300-square-foot store sells new and remanufactured ink and toner
    cartridges and also processes returned devices in back. They hope to
    recycle more than 400 ink-jet and 75 toner cartridges a day when the
    business hits its stride, she said. The pair plans to open a second
    location in Troy by the end of September and aims to have 20 open in
    the next 10 years.

    Cartridge World expects to have 20 stores operating in Michigan next
    year, said Bob Oyster, a master franchisee for Michigan and Ohio. “Keep
    in mind, our first store in Michigan opened just last August in Saginaw
    and the owner of that store soon decided to open a second store in
    Midland, which he opened in February of this year,” Oyster said. “He
    plans on opening a third store in the future.”

    Ink and toner cartridges sales and recycling generate about $52 billion
    in annual revenue worldwide, according to Jim Forrest, editor for Hard
    Copy Supplies Journal, an industry newsletter.

    “This is a trend we started noticing less than two years ago and it’s
    just growing like weeds,” Forrest said. “There are four or five
    franchise companies that are selling franchises to entrepreneurs to
    open walk-in refill shops.”

    Currently, the printer makers own a large portion of the market, but that’s changing, he said.

    “We forecast that the aftermarket has about a 30 percent share of the
    ink cartridge business right now,” Forrest said. “We see that growing
    slowly to 35 to 36 percent by 2009.”

    People are using more and more ink and toner and find the quality of
    recycled cartridges, which are also sold online and at office supply
    stores, to be OK, he said.

    “In the old days, you were printing business letters, which doesn’t put
    much ink on paper,” Forrest said. “Now you are printing Web pages,
    charts and graphs, and photographs, which use a lot of ink. People are
    not only printing more, they are putting more ink on paper.”

    While Forrest said he uses remanufactured cartridges for most of his
    printing work, he switches to a printer manufacturer’s cartridge for
    high-quality work that he wants to keep.