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Published: Friday, 1/1/2010

Red ink sinks local Quickprint stores

BY GARY T. PAKULSKI
BLADE BUSINESS WRITER

Christine Monroe remembers a time before personal computers and ink jet cartridges, when office assistants and businessmen queued up for "quick print" service.

In 1970, she and her ex-husband became the third franchisees of Big Red Q Quickprint, a Toledo-born corporation that would expand across the Midwest and elsewhere with 500 stores, publicly traded stock, and promises to become the McDonald's of office-copying.

Big Red Q Quickprint, which moved to Los Angeles in 1982, is long gone.

And now so is Mrs. Monroe's Chapman's Quickprint, housed in the River East building at Front and Main streets in East Toledo.

"The phone is being shut off today," she said yesterday as she packed away the detritus of nearly 40 years of reproducing sales brochures, company newsletters, and announcements. The firm stopped taking new orders last week.

Around the country, Quickprint, whose stores were known as Big Red Q Quickprint Centers, lives on through independently owned shops that soldiered on after the parent company went into bankruptcy in mid-1980s. The list includes Quickprint of Maumee.

In Toledo, reminders of the company formed in 1967 are fading fast.

Quickprint's former corporate headquarters on International Drive in Springfield Township - acquired long ago by different owners - is in foreclosure.

Albert C. Hazlewood, Jr., the

Toledo printing equipment salesman who helped found the company and led it for more than a decade, died two years ago of cancer at age 66.

"It was a fun company to be with," Mrs. Monroe, the former franchisee, said. "We had good sales for a long time."

Before moving to the present location seven years ago, her first store was at Woodville and Navarre avenues.

She and husband George Chapman opened two more Quickprints.

When they split in 1988, she got the East Toledo store. He inherited the couple's store in Monroe. And they sold the third store, Mrs. Monroe recalled.

"We had people waiting in line for 100 copies," she said. "Instant printing was new."

A decline in business in the last six months and a desire to do something different prompted Mrs. Monroe to close the shop. She is the wife of Don Monroe, an economic development specialist with the city of Toledo who will lose his job when the Finkbeiner administration leaves office Monday.

The early success of Quickprint, which had 1981 revenues of $11 million, attracted the attention of the legendary Al Lapin, Jr. He was the founder of the International House of Pancakes, which is now known as IHOP.

He bought controlling interest in the firm from Mr. Hazlewood and partner Robert Dillon in 1981, changed its name to Quickprint of America, sold stock to the public, and moved the corporate headquarters to Los Angeles. But financial troubles and a subsequent rebellion by franchisees contributed to the company's demise.

Quickprint was among a handful of fast-print firms that cropped up in the 1960s and early 1970s, said Bob McCarthy, a longtime Toledo marketing executive who worked for the firm.

It was a time when small businesses and the typical office were unable to afford then-costly photocopiers, he noted.

Quickprint franchises sold for $15,000, Mr. McCarthy recalled.

Quickprint and its competitors all "wanted to say they were the McDonald's of printing franchises," Mr. McCarthy said with a chuckle. "None of us really were."

Contact Gary Pakulski at:

gpakulski@theblade.com

or 419-724-6082.



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