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Carl Gerhardt

Business Sense & Sensibility

By Carl Gerhardt

About Carl

Carl Gerhardt is the chairman of Alliance Franchise Brands LLC, the parent company of Allegra Network LLC and Sign & Graphics Operations LCC, and a world leader in marketing, visual and graphics communications, linking more than 600 locations in the United States, Canada and United Kingdom. The company’s Marketing & Print Division, headquartered in Plymouth, MI, is comprised of Allegra, American Speedy Printing, Insty-Prints, Speedy Printing and Zippy Print brands of marketing, printing, mailing and Web services providers. Its Sign & Graphics Division, headquartered in Columbia, MD, is comprised of Image360, Signs By Tomorrow and Signs Now brands of sign and graphics communications providers.

Carl and his wife, Judy, owned and operated their own successful Allegra franchise for nearly 20 years before selling the $2.3 million operation in 2003. He is a PrintImage International/NAQP Honorary Lifetime Member and was inducted into NAPL’s prestigious Soderstrom Society in 2010 in recognition of his contribution to the industry.


EDSF Supports Graphic Arts Students and You Can, Too

Last week at PRINT 13, the annual EDSF Give Back at GRAPH/PRINT event was held. This event has become the “place to be” when the show floor closes on Tuesday of GRAPH EXPO/PRINT. EDSF is an organization that provides scholarships for graphic arts students. If you are not familiar with it, go to to learn more.

The Give Back event at PRINT 13 was attended by more than 200; a veritable “who’s who” of the industry. It included companies and individuals that support this organization financially and through their time and talents. They were there to celebrate the good works of this organization and to raise money to provide scholarships to more than 48 graphic arts students this 2013 academic year. Since the inception of its scholarship program in 1999, EDSF has awarded 503 scholarships to high-caliber students around the world, in places like Australia, Belarus, Canada, China, Dubai, Iceland, Italy, Nigeria, Pakistan, Russian Federation, Turkey, United Kingdom and the United States. 

The event also included an auction that raised more than $65,000, a 17 percent increase over last year. I had the pleasure of playing “auctioneer” and selling a host of donated items to an audience of people eager to support graphic arts students. It was a great time even though this audience had to deal with a first-time auctioneer. Thanks to all for being such willing participants.

There are many ways you can become a part of this effort to give back to our industry through the multiple programs available to companies large and small, as well as to individuals. At a minimum, you will want to order the book, “Making Good Software Decisions,” by Jennifer Matt of W2P Experts, as 100 percent of the proceeds go to EDSF for scholarships. You will learn critical information that will benefit your business, too.

Mark your calendar to join us next year for Give Back at GRAPH 2014 on September 30, 2014. You will have a great time, a great dinner and have the opportunity to network with the leaders of this great industry.

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