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Et Cetera, Et Cetera

Will the founder of Mail Boxes Etc. repeat his success with a digital photography "etc."?

Twenty years ago, Tony DeSio, then 50 years old, enjoyed an early retirement, all thanks to his highly successful aerospace career, during which he did important research in digital image processing. But after two years, he grew restless and decided to buy into a small start-up, which he grew into Mail Boxes Etc.

However, just as he reached the pinnacle of success, the deleterious effects of his hectic lifestyle resulted in the necessity of open-heart surgery. So he sold the business, underwent a quadruple coronary bypass and decided to retire again. But it didn't take long after his surgery until, as DeSio puts it, "all the blood started surging through my veins. So I decided to get back into it."

At 70, DeSio is coming out of retirement-again-to start ImageArts Etc. (formerly PixArts), a digital imaging franchise combining digital printing, portrait photography, fine arts reproduction and custom framing. The franchise takes customers' pictures, then manipulates images via computer and prints them on various media. Prophesying that all film-based photography will be obsolete in a few years, DeSio hopes to combine his old expertise with his franchising know-how to make ImageArts Etc. the leader in this new industry. In fact, he plans to sell 50 franchises this year-the same number MBE sold its first year.

Has DeSio given up on retirement? He says he'll consider it at age 80, but is quick to add, "If I feel alive and well and able to do something, I doubt I'll be retiring."

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This article was originally published in the October 2000 print edition of Entrepreneur with the headline: Et Cetera, Et Cetera.

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