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Allegra Reno — Little Puppy, Big Kennel

Senior Editor
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Far from the bright lights of Las Vegas, just north of Nevada’s capital of Carson City, lies a testament to the power of four-color general commercial printing. . .and it’s a franchise establishment, no less.

Allegra Print & Imaging has more heart than press firepower, but the Reno, NV-based facility remains undaunted in the face of heavy competition. Allegra Reno, as it is informally known, is a contradiction by nature. The franchise shops under the Allegra Network umbrella—Allegra Print & Imaging, American Speedy, Instant Copy, Insty-Prints, Signs Now, Speedy Printing and Zippy Print (in Canada)—are predominantly quick print shops offering one- and two-color offset printing. Only 15 percent of the chain’s 600-plus facilities boast four-color capabilities, and Allegra Reno is one of them.

“We added our five-color press in 2005 to establish a niche of short- to mid-size runs to compete with the old dogs, who ruled the market but were very slow to understand the need for speed,” states Bruce Knowlton, director of sales and marketing for Allegra Reno. “Through aggressive advertising and community involvement, we have established ourselves as a reliable and high-quality printer.”

Allegra Reno posted a relatively modest $2.3 million in sales during 2006, but the tally represented a 20 percent growth rate. That’s a significant burst for a company with just 15 employees and 9,300 square feet of operating space—a shop that only 10 years ago installed its first two-color press.

Allegra Reno turned the corner in 2001 when it obtained a four-color Heidelberg Speedmaster 52-4. Previously, the printer had used a two-color Ryobi 522 for four-color jobs, but reached the limits as to what it could accomplish. According to J.C. Weir, owner of Allegra Reno, the path to increasing sales volume was pretty clear.

Opportunity Knocking

“I felt the market for standard, small-format, quick print-type items was declining. Letterhead and forms orders were going down, so I didn’t view that as a growth opportunity,” Weir says. “On the other hand, I noticed there was strong demand for four-color work in our area.”

In 2005, Weir acquired a Heidelberg SM-52-5P+L sheetfed perfector with coater. “The five-color Speedmaster with coater has been a big reason behind our growth. The coater allows us to turn jobs very quickly, which is an important factor for customers. Being able to take product off the press and get it out the door in a couple of hours is a dramatic improvement over waiting for ink to dry.”

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