Veterans in Franchising January Cover Story

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Cover Story - Veterans - Cartridge World

Veteran’s Success as Cartridge World Franchisee

Veteran John DeBroux has mastered many things over the decades, but the one thing he just can’t manage to figure out is retirement.

DeBroux has retired multiple times from both military and civilian careers and instead of kicking back and enjoying his twilight years, he’s gone ahead and opened a successful Cartridge World franchise instead.

Located in Conyers, near Atlanta, GA, DeBroux’s Cartridge World opened its doors in June of 2007 after he retired from a 27-year career at Eastman Kodak.

Cartridge World sells printers and printing supplies for home and business use. Unlike the superstores, they’re printing experts, offering advice on printers and supplies that help customers “save time, save money and print great.” In fact, customers can save as much as 30 percent off the price of superstore cartridges.

Cartridge World is great value for home and business customers. Combining the right printers with high-yield printer cartridges can save hundreds of dollars for business customers. Plus, the company offers free delivery to local businesses.

One of the biggest selling points for Cartridge World is recycling. The company sells both new and remanufactured printer cartridges. They can remanufacture printer cartridges several times before they send them to an actual recycling facility where they are disassembled so the metals and plastics in the cartridges can be recovered.

The company remanufactures cartridges to the original printer manufacturer’s standards. And contrary to what the printer companies say, using a remanufactured cartridge won’t void the warranty on their printer, DeBroux said.

“We don’t toss them in the trash can when we’re done with them,” DeBroux said during a recent interview from the Buford, GA Cartridge World where he was helping out a fellow Cartridge World franchisee. “We send them on to the recyclers and keep them out of the landfill.”

DeBroux said he was actually surprised that customers are often more focused on the recycling rather than the cost savings, which is what he first focused on when he started.

Serendipity

DeBroux discovered Cartridge World while he was working with Eastman Kodak. About a year before he retired, he was thinking about what he should do when he finally retired from the company.

At lunch one day, he was listening to a local consumer advocate show on the radio in Atlanta hosted by Clark Howard. A caller to the show asked Howard what he does about the high cost of printer ink and Howard said he takes his cartridges to Cartridge World and trades them in for a fresh set, saving a bunch of money in the process.

DeBroux just happened to have a bunch of empty ink cartridges in his car at the time. He was planning to buy all new cartridges, but when he got back from lunch, he looked up Cartridge World and he found out there was one just down the street. So, when he got off work, he took his cartridges in, got a new, full set of remanufactured cartridges and used them on the photo project he was doing at work.

The cartridges printed with the same color and quality as the original manufacturer’s cartridges, and he was sold on the product and service.

As retirement from Eastman Kodak approached, DeBroux was talking with his daughter Renae Adams who also wanted a career change. So, father and daughter went into business together. Later, DeBroux’s other daughter, Kimberly Cassidy came on board.

“Renae is the manager, Kimberly is the counter salesperson and she’s also the production manager,” DeBroux said. “It’s actually ended up being a great family business.”

Military Service

Out of high school, DeBroux joined the U.S. Air Force in 1964. He didn’t know what he was going to do so the Air Force did an aptitude test on him and decided he would perform best in a mechanical field.

So, they trained him as an electrician. He went to Vietnam as an electrician and after he came back, he was discharged in 1969. Later, DeBroux got a job with the City of Atlanta and worked for them for 13 years before he got a job with Eastman Kodak where he worked as a Facilities Maintenance Supervisor.

While he was with the City of Atlanta, DeBroux decided he wasn’t yet done with military life and joined the Georgia National Guard for weekend duty. He stayed with them for 26 years and retired as a senior master sergeant in 1996.

DeBroux said he enjoyed his time in the military immensely and it was there he learned the value of doing the very best you can at whatever job you’re doing. He also learned the value of creating longlasting relationships with people built on friendship, something he’s carried over into his civilian careers, including Cartridge World. And it’s paid off for the business.

“I really enjoy the people, the customers that come in,” he said. “And overtime, the friendships that develop. I have customers who come by and they don’t need anything, but they’ll just stop by and say ‘Hello, how are you?’ It’s just a really pleasant atmosphere.”

It also helps that he and his daughters go above and beyond selling printer cartridges. They help customers troubleshoot problem printers and help them decide which printers are best for them when they need a new printer.

Franchising Process

When Cartridge World originally met DeBroux and Adams, they mutually agreed that the father-daughter team would be a good fit for the franchise. It also helped that the two already had their funding in place.

They signed their agreement and worked in one of the local Cartridge World stores to get training for a week. They then went to California for further training in all aspects of the business.

A unique aspect of Cartridge World is the monthly newsletter the company publishes and distributes to all its franchisees. Plus a franchise-wide intranet. The company also holds two meetings per year for owners so they can network with each other. If you have an over supply of cartridges, you can advertise them in the newsletter and some other store owner may need them and take them off your hands, DeBroux said. The ideal situation is to trade and swap products between stores. It’s a very co-operative franchise environment.

Another Retirement

Now that his daughters are operating the business pretty much on their own, DeBroux is planning to step away from the store so he can pursue his other interests: more work. But this work is decidedly different. DeBroux works with Partners for Christ building churches and also works with the Rockdale Rotary Club building handicap ramps for people. He is also active with Honor Flights for veterans, among other pursuits.

As DeBroux says, he believes he has another 30 years in him and no matter how many more times he retires, he’ll always find a new interest to keep himself busy.

For more information visit: www.cartridgeworld.com