Service Point USA Situation Points to Strength of the Reprographics Industry

Service Point USA was a major reprographics firm on the East Coast until November 8, when it suddenly shut its doors. About 100 employees spread over 7 locations lost their jobs, and countless clients scrambled for new providers of repro services. (Click here to read details)

The situation is still fluid, and many questions remain. But one thing has become clear: The people behind the reprographics industry reveal their best side during a crisis. Ironically, during what could be a dark moment in the industry, its strength is revealed.

As managing director of the International Reprographic Association (IRgA), one of my tasks is managing our news-oriented website, I try to use the site to keep our members informed about the industry.

Joel Salus, an IRgA member and industry blogger, immediately realized the Service Point USA closure story was a big deal and wrote about it on his blog, Reprographics 101. After Joel provided the key details, I dove into the story to prepare a report for IRgA’s website.

I like to base the articles on the website on interviews with people directly involved, so I called people at Service Point and competing reprographics shops. Their responses to the crisis varied, but in general they said the same thing: This is a shame, but we’ll pick up the pieces and carry on.

One of my first interviews was with a former manager at Service Point USA’s headquarters. Even though he had just lost his job of 15 years, he already had interviews lined up and was ready to move ahead.

Subsequently I interviewed the leaders of two competing shops. Naturally, Service Point’s demise opened new opportunities for them, but they also spoke of the admiration they had had for Service Point and its predecessor, Charrette ProGraphics. They were happy for the new business, but not dancing on the grave of a worthy competitor.

Most important, they are not going to let the sudden collapse of one major player sully the image of the reprographics industry as a whole. They are quickly taking care of Service Point’s former clients. Sure, they profit from it, but they also show SP’s clients that this industry can provide continuity through a crisis.

After my interviews, it became clear that IRgA could help the situation by connecting the newly out-of-work Service Point employees with IRgA members looking for help. We assembled a rudimentary job board and got it up and running within a day. You can read about it here.

The response so far has been strong – five employees have submitted information, and four employers have expressed interest. If you know of any former Service Point employees still looking for work, please direct them to the job board. And if you’re looking to fill a position, please check out the quality individuals who have submitted their qualifications so far.

The Service Point situation is truly unfortunate, because a long-time, evidently profitable firm is now out of business and 100 people lost their jobs. But the character of the industry has been revealed. People are helping each other through the crisis, and looking ahead rather than lamenting about what just happened.