Landfill reduction is a hot topic in sustainability circles these days. But reducing landfill waste may be difficult for many small businesses. Cecilia Chavez and husband Terry Calvo have teamed up with Frank Garcia and Jenny Zamora-Garcia to provide Flagstaff businesses with an easy way to reduce waste by recycling inkjet and toner cartridges. The woman-owned, minority business, Ink Envey, offers a $2 credit for each used ink or toner cartridge, typically slated for the trashcan.
“Two hundred and fifty million ink and toner cartridges were dumped into landfills in the past 10 years,” said Chavez. “By using our products, customers will help reduce landfill waste.”
Ink Envey already serves over 60 business accounts in the Flagstaff area and will soon open a brick and mortar store on Route 66. Calvo’s 35 years of experience in retail management with Home Depot, Best Buy and Staples could be part of the reason for their success.
Garcia’s personal connections in Northern Arizona – after running the family business, Kachina Restaurant – could be another key factor.
“Cecilia and I started the business on our dining room table,” Calvo said. “Our warehouse was Frank’s garage. But when inventory increased so much that Frank’s ’68 Impala was headed out into the snow, we decided that we had to get a building.”
A large inventory is part of the business plan. “We become the warehouse for our customers. Instead of customers coming up with money for their inventory, we do it for them,” explained Chavez. Ink Envey’s extensive inventory allows them to guarantee same day delivery to clients that have ordered in the past. “Our business plan is based on a successful ink and toner business in Texas,” explained Chavez about the Just-In-Time inventory management process.
“This is something that I’ve wanted to do all my life: make money for myself and not someone else,” said Calvo. This entrepreneurial spirit helped him see an open niche in the market. Several inkjet and toner cartridge recyclers have left the Flagstaff market, and that opened an opportunity. “There was an open niche for a low-cost option,” said Chavez.
Chavez negotiated deep discounts from suppliers. “They worked with us when we explained our commitment to sustainability and local charities,” explained Chavez, who lives off the grid. Ink Envey donates a percentage of all sales to the Flagstaff Family Food Center and Second Chance Animal Shelter. Chavez leveraged price with suppliers when they knew they were on a list of 25 suppliers that would be narrowed down to three.
“We’re able to offer all brands of ink and toner at up to a 30 percent discount,” said Garcia, the sales manager. The company offers discounts because all their ink and toner cartridges are recycled and rebuilt to meet or exceed the print quality and the page yield of any original equipment manufacturer (OEM) product.
“In these times, business people need to sharpen their pencils,” said Calvo, who estimates that $15 million is spent every year on ink and toner in the Flagstaff area. “We can help them save money and then reinvest it back into their businesses.”
“Few businesses can ‘talk the talk’ and ‘walk the walk’ when it comes to customer service. We do both,” said Chavez. The business offers free cleaning and general maintenance of printers. Printer repair is also available.
“By giving a high level of service, we’re building a good referral base through our commercial customers. Once we open the storefront, we’re ready for individuals,” said Zamora-Garcia, sales representative. The group plans to open the brick and mortar location by next month. FBN
418 E Route 66, Flagstaff