Tuesday, April 28, 2009

From Idea to Reality, NGI lives on ……

I was in Europe the past couple of weeks, returning home to the U.S. on Saturday night. This morning (Tuesday), I got up early and drove eighteen blocks to my favorite breakfast hangout in St Petersburg, FL. After breakfast, I drove down Central Avenue to the little office I maintain (for my consulting practice) in a high-rise office building in downtown St Pete.

While driving down Central Avenue, I noticed that a new sign, “NGI”, had replaced a “TRS” sign that’s been hanging over a reprographics center in downtown St Pete for probably 20 years, if not longer.

That new sign, the “NGI” sign, brought a big smile to my face.

In 1995, when I was thinking about coming out of retirement after having been out of the reprographics industry for approximately 8 years (we sold our first reprographics company in 1988), I wrote a business plan for a “new-age” reprographics business. After completing the business plan, I sat there thinking, “what name should I give this new business? I don’t want to use “reprographics” in the name, because the new business would be a digital-based enterprise, and I can’t just use the word “imaging” next to a name, because “imaging” could be confused with an MRI center” (you know, the people that do brain scans, bone scans, etc.) So, after haggling back and forth with myself, I came up with the name I liked the best - “National Graphic Imaging – NGI”.

NGI did not become a reality until a few years later. After completing the business plan, I shelved it. I had taken a job as the Director of Business Development for a large-format color enterprise with 8 offices around the U.S. And, after that, I accepted a job as COO of T-Square (based in Miami, FL.)

In late 1997, October actually, I joined a Tampa Bay Florida-based reprographics enterprise (a business that was founded by Nick Korman, Martha Korman and Greg Williams.) At the time I joined the Tampa-based enterprise, it was operating under three different names; Bay Reprographics was the name of the Tampa operating company, Central Reprographics was the name of the Orlando operating company, and Coastal Reprographics was the name of the Jacksonville operating company. Not long after joining this enterprise, I voiced an opinion to my associates that, if we were going to successfully brand the business - make our business instantly recognizable across all of our markets (present and future) – that we needed to transition the business to “one name” instead of using three different names. If my memory serves me accurately, we began the transition to “one name” in 1998 – and the “one name” we selected to use was, yes, you probably guessed it, National Graphic Imaging – NGI. Several years later, we dropped the full name and simplified things, going with just NGI (with the exception that whenever I generated proposals, I continued to use the full name and the initials.)

NGI was sold to ARC in mid-December 2007. Several years prior to that, ARC acquired Tampa-based TRS. TRS’ original full name was “Tampa Reprographics Service”. (TRS was founded by Jack Dunn out of Detroit; he also owned Dunn Blue in the Detroit, MI area.) During 2008, ARC merged TRS into NGI; NGI became the surviving ARC operating company in the Tampa Bay Area. About that same time, Orlando Reprographics was also merged into NGI (in Orlando.)

Anyway, to bring this long-winded story to a conclusion, my drive down Central Avenue this morning brought a smile to my face because the NGI name – which I came up with while working on a business plan years before I became a member of a Florida reprographics operation – is now “up in lights” in downtown St Petersburg.

Last week, I was given a heads-up that Greg Williams of NGI was very recently appointed ARC’s Regional President for ARC-Florida operations. That means that Greg, one of NGI’s founders, will be running ARC’s “Florida-statewide” business; that also means that T-Square, the Miami-based enterprise ARC purchased two years ago, and one of the oldest companies in the reprographics industry in the U.S., is now under Greg’s management. It remains to be seen, however, if T-Square’s name will be changed to NGI. But, if T-Square’s name is, now or eventually, changed to NGI, that, of course, will bring another smile to my face.

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