Citation Press–Rags to Riches

He opened his first print shop in Santa Clara in 1981. Tran had hoped to capitalize on the large Vietnamese population in the area. Yet, within six months of opening, his first business failed. “I lacked funding, I lacked a business strategy and I was too immature. I was too young to work long hours,” he recalls.

“I learned a lot from my first mistake. I learned to recognize what can be done and what cannot be done,” he reflects. Even so, he was not one to give up easily.

Soon, Tran went back to work for another printing company. He enrolled in Small Business Administration-sponsored classes and began to save money for his next startup. “I knew that I could create future opportunities for both myself and for other people,” he remembers. In 1984, he was ready to try again.

Tran Finds Success
An older and wiser Tran found success when he opened Columbia Press, in Sunnyvale, CA. This time, Tran did not fail. The company grew to 22 employees with $2 million in annual sales. Although successful, Tran was not content. He wanted more; he was ready to take the next step in the printing industry. But he realized that the culture at Columbia Press was not what he was looking for.

So he sold his interest in Columbia to his partner and, using the $360,000 he had in cash and securing an additional $3 million in loans, he built a 10,000-square-foot facility in Santa Clara and launched Citation Press. It was a calculated risk, but one that turned into gold. Tran’s business plan originally projected revenues of $5 million by the year 2000. Citation passed that mark in 1995, and Tran believes he will surpass the $10 million mark this year.

Tran Success Strategies
When you ask Tran about what makes Citation successful, he points to technology and his employees. Tran is a firm believer that both have to be nurtured in order to ensure Citation’s growth.

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