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B2B Profile: Serges LaRiviere, president Ink & Toner Solutions, Inc., Northampton

Serges LaRiviere, Ink and Toner Solutions, Northampton.

Serges LaRiviere, Ink and Toner Solutions, Northampton. KEVIN GUTTING Purchase photo reprints »

NAME: Serges LaRiviere

JOB TITLE, COMPANY: President, Ink & Toner Solutions, Inc., Northampton

WEBSITE: www.inksolutionsma.com

AGE: 61


WHAT YOU DO: Our main product is eco-friendly ink and toner cartridges. We take the empty cores of printer cartridges and remanufacture them back to the original specs. By doing this we are saving millions of tons of oil due to the fact that it takes about 3 quarts of oil on average to make one toner cartridge. Reuse also keeps the cores out of our landfills.

EXPERIENCE: I have over 30 years of experience in business for myself. The first business I opened was with my brother in 1983 in Ludlow called Delta Machine & Tool, Inc. I sold this business in 2004 and started Ink & Toner Solutions. I also own and operate Northampton Computer Repair.

THE MARKET: The consumer who wants to go green in their office or home.

HOW YOU REACH OUT: More and more, we are reaching out to our markets by using the many different avenues of the Internet. We believe in having people search for a product online and choosing the best fit for their needs. We have two blogs on both our websites and make sure to write about things that will help the consumer solve problems or just give them good quality information. The most frequent question we get is, “What is the best printer for me?” So, we created a downloadable PDF guide titled “How To Choose Your Next Printer” that can be found on our home page at www.inksolutionsma.com.

WHAT FINANCING HURDLES HAVE YOU FACED AND HOW HAVE YOU HANDLED THEM? When I first started the business, the banks were not lending money to open small businesses so I took what I had in savings and started on a shoe string and built the business from that. In 2009 after reviewing my financials, Country Bank gave me an operating loan.

KEY TO SUCCESS: Never stop learning about what is new in business. Never give up, nothing is easy. Never look back. When you make a mistake learn from it and try again, there is no other way in business.

CHALLENGES: Keeping up with the ever-changing face of business. What worked 10 years ago might not work now. Never say, “But this is how we have always done it.”

MISSTEP YOU LEARNED FROM: When I first started this business, I decided to take on the entire refilling process in house on my own. Because of my manufacturing background, I felt this would be well within my capacity. What I did not figure on is how fast this industry changes. New printers each year meant new cartridges, new inks and new embedded chips that all had to be researched and implemented into the remanufacturing process. This proved too much for one person, so I switched gears and I now have all of the remanufacturing of the ink and toner cartridges done off-site by highly qualified vendors that have entire research and development staffs on-site and quality control facilities that can handle the constant changes, leaving me the time I need to run my business and make the changes needed as the market dictates.

WHAT OTHERS COULD LEARN FROM YOU: When you start a new business, I feel one of the most important things to do is research that industry as deeply and thoroughly as you possibly can. Not having a complete picture and understanding can make or break a startup.

PARTING THOUGHT: Running a business should never be just about making money, it must be a labor of love and it doesn’t hurt to have a little bit of fun along the way.

B2B ID is compiled by Janice Beetle, owner of Beetle Press in Easthampton. Beetle Press offers writing, editing and graphic design services. www.beetlepress.com. To suggest a subject for B2B ID, email Beetle at beetlepress@charter.net.

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