David Morrill was on the backside of more than 15 years as a Subway sandwich shop owner when he spotted his future.
It happened while driving past the Cartridge World in Glendale. The franchise, which refills and repurposes printer ink and toner cartridges, piqued his interest and he didn't waste any time getting on board.
"The first meeting I had with Cartridge World was in the lobby of my Subway store," Morrill said and chuckled.
Nearly a year later, Morrill sold the last of his Subway franchises. A week after that, he opened his new shop in Wauwatosa.
It was April 2009, not the ideal time to open a new business, thanks to the still-tanking economy.
In fact, Morrill admitted, "I probably opened up at one of the worst times."
But, he reasoned, his storefront location near 66th and State streets made him well-positioned to serve businesses in downtown Milwaukee, as well as people working from home - or, at that time, searching for work from home.
As businesses and jobseekers searched for cost-cutting measures, they slowly turned to Morrill, who offers new and remanufactured inks and toners.
And what does it mean to remanufacture an ink cartridge? Well, as Morrill learned, it's more complicated than simply injecting new fluid into an old unit. Remanufactured cartridges are taken apart and reassembled with new pieces before new ink or toner is loaded. Cartridges are then tested before they are sold.
Because nearly every cartridge model is different, each requires slightly different tweaks. And each model also has its own ink - a signature combination of colors making just the right hue of black, for instance.
Those intricacies appealed to Morrill almost as much as the environmental impact his business could offer.
"We are big recyclers. My store serves as a dropoff point for anyone who wants to recycle their ink and toner - and you don't have to make a purchase," Morrill said.
Considering it can take one gallon of oil to make a new cartridge, Morrill said he is glad to do his part.
"These are viable items that can be reused," Morrill said. "... Keeping things out of landfills is a great thing."
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JUST THE FACTS
BUSINESS: Cartridge World, 6650 W State St
PHONE: (414) 777-1830
TYPE OF BUSINESS: sells new and recycled ink and toner cartridge
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