Running a printing shop no longer requires a love of graphics and the proverbial black thumb (ink stains). Would-be Gutenbergs come from all walks of life, and at least half of all quick-printing store owners have no printing experience whatever when they enter the business, said Larry Hunt, a construction company sales manager until he bought his first copy center in 1973. He now owns three copy centers in Florida's Tampa Bay area.
"It takes management skills. We've always felt it was a model entrepreneur business where you hire the skilled people you need," said Kay Hodges, who headed an insurance company's sales support staff before opening Express Press in Glendale with her husband 11 years ago.
Engineers, bankers and retired military officers figure prominently in the industry. But franchisees of Kwik Kopy also include former firefighters and police officers, a one-time bowling alley proprietor, even a coroner, a blacksmith and a professional clown.
Backgrounds in business are becoming increasingly common, however, said Robert S. Hall, a quick-printing analyst for Crouser & Associates, a printing management consultancy headquartered in South Charleston, W. Va. "The general feeling is it's a maturing industry where you're getting to the point that if you have something, you have to go out and market it."