Young entrepreneurs head Southfield company which
recycles laser printer toner cartridges.
PHOTOS BY GL EN N TRIEST
ADRIEN CHANDLER SPECIAL TO THE JEWISH NEWS
here's hardly an office in metropol-
itan Detroit that doesn't have per-
sonal computers (PCs) to make life
Those PCs need a printer. As the price
of laser printers has dropped, they have
become an attractive option, even for small
But when the printing cartridge runs
out of toner, replacing it new can be ex-
Changing technology and the demand
for recycled goods has given rise to a new
industry — recharged laser printer toner
One small but growing Southfield com-
pany is capitalizing on the demand by sup-
plying recharged toner cartridges.
When Joel Pearlman and his cousin,
Michael Jacobs, started Laser Recharge,
Inc., 21/2 years ago, they were working out
of the basement of Jacobs' Southfield home.
As with any small start-up business,
Laser Recharge has gone through many
changes. The company is now run by Mr.
Pearlman, 25, and longtime friend Rob
The company is housed in a Southfield
office building and has grown to include
two technicians and a driver, with sales
last year reaching the $135,000 mark.
"A Hewlett Packard Series 2 or 3 print-
er toner cartridge runs anywhere from
$85-100 new," Mr. Pearlman said. "Our
cost is $49.95 for a recharged cartridge."
Mr. Pearlman, who graduated from
Eastern Michigan University with a mar-
' keting degree, wanted to run his own busi-
ness. He said he just had to find the right
"Mike Jacobs found this idea in Entre-
'-- preneur magazine," Mr. Pearlman said.
Lu "He gave me a call and told me about the
business. To be honest, I didn't know what
5 he was talking about."
But the two researched the field. They
ended up buying the technology and tray-
eling to Texas to receive training. Initial
= start-up costs were about $14,000.
Then they started drumming up busi-
ness. Mr. Pearlman says he and Mr. Ja-
cobs called everyone they knew who might
have a laser printer.
Joel Pearlman and Rob Dube of Laser Recharge.
"Lawyers, accountants, doctors .... we
started calling them and asking, `Do you
have laser printers, and do you know any-
one who does?"' Mr. Pearlman said.
They also went door-to-door soliciting
After Mr. Jacobs left the company, Mr.
Pearlman called on his best friend to step
"When I came in, we started doing some
different things," Mr. Dube said. "We're
now more marketing oriented, while
Michael (Jacobs) was more technical ori-
The new duo started networking
through organizations such as the Small
Business Association of Michigan and
Chambers of Commerce. They also began
presenting their company at trade shows.
"It's a fairly competitive business," Mr.
Pearlman said, noting that there are at
least a dozen other firms doing this kind
of work. He says even printer giant
Hewlett Packard has jumped on the re-
cycling bandwagon by offering recharged
cartridges to its customers.
`There's a lot of business out there," Mr.
Pearlman said. "The laser printer busi-
ness is so big now that there's a lot of room.
"But you've got to be the right re-charg-
er. You have to be doing a quality job.
There's a lot of money to be made in this
business short term, but you could end up
losing your customers."
Mr. Pearlman and Mr. Dube view qual-
ity control and customer service as the key
ingredients for making their business a
The owners say Laser Recharge's sales
are growing because of referral and repeat
business. They offer pick-up and delivery
within 24 hours and will service and main-
Companies eager to save money while
being environmentally conscious are us-
ing the products.
Toni Platts, assistant vice president of
corporate services at Rock Financial, has
been buying recycled laser cartridges from
Laser Recharge for about a year.
"I didn't know they could be recycled,"
When mortgage interest rates dropped
to a record low last year, the Bingham
Farms mortgage bank was using up car-
tridges every two to three days.
Ms. Platts estimates using recycled car-
tridges has saved the company anywhere
from $5,000 to $10,000 annually in sup-
Deanna Sadlowski is one of two people
at BDO Seidman in Troy who takes care
of the accounting firm's computers and pe-
ripherals. She says there's no problem
with the recycled cartridges.