An interview with Gary Blaski, owner of Allegra Marketing, Print, Mail.
Q: Describe your business. What do you do?
Allegra Marketing, Print, MailAddress: 460 Windy Point Drive, Glendale Heights, IL 60139
Owners: Gary & Cindy Blaski
A:Allegra Marketing, Print, Mail is a full-service marketing and printing firm. We specialize in graphic design and creative services, marketing planning and implementation, full-color offset and digital printing, high speed black-and-white digital printing, signs and banners, promotional products, complete bindery and mailing services.
Q: What made you start your business?
A: My father had a trucking business, and believe it or not, I started "working" for him when I was 8 years old. This early exposure to entrepreneurship helped form my decision to be an independent business owner. After earning a degree in business management, I began to research available opportunities. I attended a business expo and was very interested in the franchise opportunity offered by American Speedy Printing, which later became Allegra Network. I went for it. Allegra Network has been very instrumental in our success with its marketing, financial and technical support. Our industry has evolved over the years from core printing services to more broad-based, cross-media marketing solutions. We now offer area small businesses and nonprofits an affordable, one-stop resource for their simple print projects as well as multichannel strategic plans that take advantage of all the tools and technologies once accessible only to "the big guys."
Q: What has been the most difficult obstacle in running or starting a small business?
A: I think the most difficult part of starting a small business is finding the right financing for working capital and equipment purchases. This business is always changing, and we are always challenged to upgrade our equipment and systems to meet the demands of the marketplace. Finding and training well-qualified staff with the right attitude is also a challenge in running a small business. I am blessed with a very efficient and dedicated staff, but it took a lot of time with many bumps in the road to get here. Allegra Network has helped us in this area as well.
Q: What do you enjoy most about operating your business?
A: Operating a small business provides me with a real sense of accomplishment. In any small business, the owner has to wear many hats. At the end of a long day, when we have solved many challenges, I can look at what we have accomplished with a sense of pride and satisfaction in a job well done. It gives me great pleasure when we rise up to the challenge that a client may give us and exceed their expectations. I also like the family atmosphere and the personal relationships that are made. I think it is important to have fun at your work.
Q: When you were young, what did you want to be when you grew up?
A: Having grown up in a small business, I always envisioned myself being in this type of environment. I feel more comfortable in small business then in a big corporate setting.
Q: What keeps you up at night?
A: Like any business owner, sometimes I am up at night, solving the day's challenges. It might be financial concerns or equipment-related. Often, I have what I call a 3 a.m. "aha" moment where a solution will come to me and I can't wait to get to work to try it out.
Q: If you could give one tip to a rookie business owner, what would it be?
A: If I were to give one piece of advice to a rookie business owner, I would say that you need to be persistent. In the life of any business, there are prosperous times and lean times. There are countless challenges that sometimes seem overwhelming, but with consistent effort and hard work, success can be achieved. Additionally, keep a close eye on your financial statements, and correct any problems before they become too large. Run your business by the numbers. Also, run your business with integrity and respect your clients, employees and vendors. The right thing to do is always the right thing to do, no matter the cost.
-- Kim Mikus
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