Kinko's Service Corp., the Ventura-based parent of the Kinko's copy-center chain, has formed an alliance with a high-tech producer of business forms and software to tap into the multibillion-dollar small-business printing market.
Kinko's is joining forces with New England Business Service Inc., a Groton, Mass., concern whose sales exceed $250 million annually, to provide customized printing services for small businesses and other customers who work out of their homes.
According to an announcement issued by the two firms, a Kinko's store in Ventura is one of six pilot locations that have been established for the nationwide project.
As part of the plan, consultants trained by New England Business will help the copying chain's customers prepare material that will be printed at the Massachusetts company's remote facilities. Computer software and high-speed connections will be used to design and produce brochures, business forms and other items.
"Our small-office and home-office customers are increasingly looking for sophisticated services and products that enable them to compete more effectively with larger businesses," said Paul Orfalea, Kinko's chairman. He expects New England Business to be "a key partner in helping us to maintain our leadership through the provision of customized printing services."
The companies hope to set up at least 50 small-business centers in Kinko's stores by the end of the year. In addition to Ventura, two pilot locations are slated in New York and one each are planned in the Massachusetts cities of Burlington, Northhampton and Quincy.
The partners cited a study that predicts the small-business sector will grow at a rate of 4% to 5% annually for several years.
"That in turn has created a significant demand for accompanying products and services that allow small businesses to market themselves more professionally and to produce more competitive products and services," the partners said in their announcement.
William Lowe, president and chief executive of New England Business, estimated the size of the small-business printing market at $10 billion annually. He said his firm hopes to expand into an even larger market that provides entrepreneurs with various products and services.