HOLMEN — It’s been nearly three decades since Bob King and Mike Marty quit their jobs and founded Laser Product Technologies Inc.
King and Marty sold the Holmen business on Nov. 1 to La Crosse-based DuraTech Industries Inc. and Justin Pretasky, who is part owner of DuraTech. Duratech provides custom label print services for customers around the world.
With the sale, King, who is 71, and Marty, who is 72, have retired.
Laser Product Technologies is best-known for remanufacturing toner cartridges for use in laser printers and multifunctional devices. That is how the business got started, and remanufactured toner cartridges still account for about one-third of its sales.
Print management services account for another one-third of the company’s sales and are the fastest-growing part of its business. That involves installing computer software that is used to tell Laser Product Technologies such things as what the toner levels are in all of the customers’ equipment, when more toner cartridges need to be shipped to the customer, how many pages have been printed, and whether the customer’s equipment needs servicing.
“So everything is proactive rather than reactive,” King explained. Print management services centralize management of all of the customer’s devices and helps the customer reduce their costs.
Sales and service of printers, copiers, computers and related supplies account for the other one-third of the company’s business, Pretasky said.
Laser Product Technologies has about 2,500 customers, mainly in western Wisconsin, northeastern Iowa and southeastern Minnesota. Some of its customers have offices around the nation, which extends where the company’s products and services go.
As for any changes he plans to make in the business, Pretasky said, “We’re going to expand a bit on the solution side of the business. We’ll be offering laptops, computers, power back-ups and security for computer and operating systems, things like that.”
Pretasky noted the Holmen firm is one of only 50 Hewlett Packard Premier Partners dealers in the nation. Getting that designation requires a firm to be HP-certified by completing a rigorous training program in sales, service and warranty, he said. It also gives the firm access to select equipment and services.
Pretasky also said Laser Product Technologies will continue under its current name, and at its current location. The business has 16 employees.
King and Marty were the only two employees when they founded the business in 1989 in a small building at N5554 Abbey Road in Onalaska, as a remanufacturer of toner cartridges.
King is a native of Fond du Lac, Wis., while Marty was born in Wyandotte, Mich. Marty’s father was in the military, so his family moved around and he was raised in different states, graduating from high school in Ohio.
King and Marty both worked in sales for computer companies when they first learned about remanufacturing toner cartridges at a computer trade show in the Chicago area.
After that, Marty said, “We got on the phone and called a lot of businesses and asked if they had laser printers or had plans for laser printers.”
They decided to quit their sales jobs and start Laser Product Technologies.
Five years later, because their business had grown, they built the current Laser Product Technologies building at 3936 Circle Drive in the Cedar Creek Business Park, near the McDonald’s restaurant on County Highway OT in Holmen. And five years after that, they built a second building next door.
“We’re a strong regional leader” in the remanufacture of toner cartridges, King said.
Since the business began in 1989, it has remanufactured more than 500,000 toner cartridges, saving from the environment more than 1,250 tons of plastic.
Each toner cartridge can be remanufactured seven to 10 times before wearing out and having its parts recycled.
In remanufacturing toner cartridges, Laser Product Technologies employees clean and inspect the cartridges, replace worn or damaged parts with new parts, refill them with toner and test each cartridge before it leaves the company’s facility.
Customers are motivated to buy remanufactured toner cartridges by wanting to be more “green” and because it can save them 30 to 40 percent compared with the cost of buying a brand new toner cartridge.
Pretasky said he was interested in buying the business because “What was interesting to me was the niche market that they have. They provide the print management services and sell equipment to customers, but also remanufacture (toner cartridges) and truly help customers go green. They’re 100 percent focused on helping customers save money and run their business.” Pretasky also said the business has a quality staff.
The company’s founders said they decided to sell because they were ready to retire.
“We had an opportunity to sell it to a competitor,” Marty said. If they had done that, he said, “We think it would have been absorbed” by the buyer and there would have been job losses.
“The reason we went with who we did (DuraTech and Pretasky) is we wanted the legacy to continue,” King said, adding that he and Marty are proud of the company and its staff.