From the October 2000 issue of Startups

An eruption of ink, as furious as a Kuwaiti oil well, blasted onto the recycling marketplace in the early '90s. And Mike Bouquet, co-founder and vice president of Full Circle Image, was in the thick of it. Along with his partners, Bouquet, now 34, helped launch the image supply re-manufacturing franchise in 1991. Little did he know, they were tapping into a vast sea of toner gold.

The Rochester, Minnesota-based company originally marketed recycled ribbons, but field representatives soon learned there was a demand for imaging resources, complete with toner cartridges and fax and copier supplies. "We help [businesses] deal with supplies in an environmentally friendly way," Bouquet says, "we help them save money."

The Full Circle concept took shape following a simple phone survey conducted by Bouquet and his partners, asking people if they would be interested in recycling their printer ribbons rather than just tossing them in the trash. The partners were overwhelmed with positive responses, and soon, the company was literally set in ink.

Fresh out of college himself at the time, Bouquet used his telemarketing and sales experience to help sell his products. He maintains that even now, a recent college graduate can easily do the same. "You have to enjoy interacting with people, and you can't be reluctant about knocking on doors and introducing yourself," he counsels.

To date, Full Circle Image has produced 25 franchises, spanning the United States and Central America. Start-up costs run just under $25,000, which includes the $20,000 franchise fee. Full Circle provides protected territory and a two-week field- and classroom-training program, which Bouquet directs. He explains, "We're in a fast-growing, ever-changing marketplace, and it's very exciting."

Make The Call

Full Circle Image, (800) 866-8190, www.fullcircleimage.com.