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 user 2007-11-06 at 11:03:00 am Views: 59
  • #19333

    A future written in ink
    Medford man takes up new career after retirement, and it’s paying off
    07 Finding a second career can be as tricky as developing the first
    one.Bob Clement discovered trial and error goes with the territory, but
    once he hit on the right idea, the business he started after retirement
    took flight.After a couple of false starts, Clement found his niche
    when he began remanufacturing toner cartridges used for printers,
    copiers and fax machines.Clement was a Snap-on Tool dealer in Southern
    Oregon and Northern California for 23 years before he called it quits
    and started touring the country with his wife, Janet, in a motor
    home.”When I retired, we sold everything in an auction and then hit the
    road,” says the 70-year-old Clement.When they got back to town in 2003,
    Janet Clement said she wanted to live in a house again.”That meant I
    had to do something,” he says. “So I decided to start a business.”The
    first venture was remodeling a house for resale. They sold it and
    bought another house with the same idea, but the softening real estate
    market put a damper on that enterprise.

    “We decided we could do something better,” he says.
    sorting through the possibilities, Clement launched Rogue Valley Ink
    Jet and Toner, reloading ink jet printing cartridges and
    remanufacturing toner cartridges. He later narrowed the focus to toner
    cartridges and reduced the business name to RVIT — complete with a frog
    on the logo.Clement is one of a growing number of formerly retired
    people who have re-entered the working world, says David Tally of The
    Business Group in Grants Pass.”A lot of retired people are finding it
    very boring, and they look at the alternatives and start a business or
    restart their old jobs when they’re in their 60s and 70s,” Tally says.
    “For a lot of people, you figure out what you did wrong the first time,
    think about what you should have done the second time and do what you
    really want the third.”During a trade show in Las Vegas, Clement saw
    his future was wrapped up in providing ink for $1,500 printers instead
    of $50 ink-jet printers. He refills cartridges made for
    Hewlett-Packard, Canon, Sharp, IBM, Dell and Lexmark.

    remanufacture ink-jet cartridges, you have to clean them, and the
    failure rate was way too high,” Clement says. “That was a total flop,
    so we got out of it.”During the first three months of business, RVIT
    had perhaps 10 customers. Today, he serves about 100 clients, ranging
    from school and government entities to professional offices.”Most
    printing is text, so it’s primarily black and white, although there is
    a move toward color,” Clement says. “One customer may go through a
    cartridge a month, others may not replace theirs for three to six
    months.”Toner cartridges are designed to last “one cycle, plus a little
    more,” he says. “You can refill them by punching a hole and dumping out
    the old toner, pouring some in and putting on a cover. But they don’t
    last very long that way, because the components don’t last.”When
    Clement overhauls cartridges he changes out the imaging tube, developer
    roller, bushings, bearings and computer chips after working over the
    recycled unit with a vacuum.

    “It takes 20 to 40 minutes now, but
    when I first started it took two hours,” says Clement, who was trained
    by parts supplier Static Control Components of Sanford, N.C.He says he
    can refurbish an $80 Hewlett-Packard cartridge for less than $50 and a
    $300 IBM unit for $190. He says he doesn’t know the ultimate duration
    of recycled units, but he claims remanufactured cartridges can outlast
    new ones obtained at office supply stores because he adds more
    toner.”People with all those years of experience look around and say
    there’s got to be a more cost-effective way of doing things,” Tally
    says. “This is not only something we can do better for ourselves, but
    also we can do better for the market.”Clement says his retirement
    business has the potential to produce income rivaling his old job. His
    goal is to expand his current volume of 50 to 60 cartridge overhauls to
    more than 150. “When we get to that point,” he says. “We’ll probably do
    a storefront and go back to doing ink jets as well.”