Saturday, October 29, 2011

Sleepy downtown St Petersburg (FL) now has 2 reprographers (ARC and New Age Repro) and they are across the street from each other

My favorite Starbucks, which I visit nearly every morning when I’m home in St Petersburg, FL (which is across the bay from Tampa), is located at the corner of 1st Avenue North and 2nd Street North in downtown St Petersburg. St Petersburg has a small downtown area – and it always seems to be quiet, never a lot of people out walking around, even though the weather, this time of year, is usually quite pleasant.

In a post on Reprographics 101 on July 28th, I mentioned that Alex Prieto and George Soliman, who own New Age Reprographics, opened their second location; this one is in downtown St Petersburg, about 300 feet (maybe less than that) from where I’m now sitting at Starbucks. New Age Repro’s location is literally across the street from ARC’s location in downtown St Petersburg. So, there are two reprographics companies operating on the same block. [ARC is in St Petersburg because ARC Tampa Reprographics Services (several years ago) and NGI (in December 2007.) Both NGI and TRS had “shops” in downtown St Petersburg; ARC later consolidated the two operations into one.]

The other day, this being my first week back in St Petersburg, I walked across the street (from my Starbucks) to see if Alex and George were at their place, just to say hello, but neither of them were there – they were over at their “main” store in Tampa. While at New Age Repro, I met “Alden”, who is relatively new to the reprographics business (according to what he told me.) He was the only one in the shop. The shop is a “wide-open” facility – everything is in one large room. Apparently, business was slow, for Alden wasn’t working on any jobs. He so much as said that it takes time for business to develop, New Age Repro being a newcomer to St Petersburg.

Anyway, all of this brought to mind NGI’s expansion to St Petersburg back in (I think it was either) 2006 or 2007. TRS (by then, trading as TRS, but owned by ARC) had been located in downtown St Petersburg for probably close to 20 years, if not longer than that. And, TRS had a great branch manager (can’t remember his name, but I think it was Jerry). NGI’s new location in downtown St Pete got off to a very, very slow start. How about an “abysmal” start. Not a large market, and it is not easy to pull customers away from a well run company. As I mentioned, TRS had a great manager and he had a wonderful reputation with customers. As I recall, I think we lost our ass on our St Pete location. But, strategically, it was a good move on our part.

For New Age Repro to be successful in downtown St Petersburg, New Age Repro is going to have to have not only a maximum sales effort, but be able to provide fantastic service. It is not going to be easy for New Age Repro to unseat ARC as the “major” reprographer in St Petersburg. But, inasmuch as I worked with both Alex and George when we were together at NGI, I wish them luck.

And, from my daily perch at Starbucks, I’ll be observing action on the block.

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