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Quick-Printing Industry

October 26, 1987

Sir Speedy is launching a facsimile machine network, entering a business which has already dealt an expensive setback to Memphis, Tenn.-based Federal Express. The quick-printing franchise chain, headquartered in Laguna Hills, will buy the machines from Dallas-based Murata Business Systems, and plans to have leased them to 600 of its 803 stores by the time the service becomes available next January, said Don F. Lowe, Sir Speedy's president and chief executive.

Facsimile machines transmit and receive text and drawings over telephone lines, printing the data like a photocopier with an output tray hundreds or thousands of miles away.

Unlike such previous efforts as Federal Express' ZapMail, closed down last winter with a $350-million writeoff, Sir Speedy's FastFax network will cater primarily to small businessmen who do not have facsimile machines and who want to send documents to their suplliers and clients who do have machines. Only a small percentage of business is expected to consist of papers sent from one Sir Speedy outlet to another, Lowe said. For these messages, Sir Speedy has reached an agreement with a Wichita, Kan.-based courier company to provide 90-minute delivery service in 70 urban markets.

Sir Speedy will charge a base price of $10 for the first five pages sent to a facsimile machine outside the network, Lowe said. Delivery will cost extra. Franchises in the United States, Canada, Great Britain and Hong Kong will be included in the network, and will be able to lease the machines from Sir Speedy for $12 a week, he said.

Houston-based Kwik Kopy has registered a name and developed hardware and software for a facsimile network and also hopes to start operations in January, Chairman Frederick (Bud) C. Hadfield said. He declined to elaborate.

Postal Instant Press, headquartered in Los Angeles, has no plans to start such a network, Chief Executive Thomas C. Marotto said. "We've experimented with it. I'm not sure the margins are there. A lot of customers a lot larger than Sir Speedy or us have tried."

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