By April Miller | Photo by Gery Petrof
Owners Jeff and Lori Kolenich have been hard at work since buying into the franchise in April 2011, building relationships with Cleveland businesses. Today the casino is just one of the many clients for which they provide large-format graphics.
“Right around the time the casino was ramping up, we made a big push to get in there, and we were able to get our foot in the door before they opened,” Jeff Kolenich says. “We also provide large-format graphics for ThistleDown Racino. Window graphics, interior and exterior wall murals, back-of-house pieces for employees—our work helps to support their brands.”
Other clients include ESPN Cleveland, MetroHealth, RR Donnelley, Tri-C, Destination Cleveland, Mr. Rooter Plumbing, Mr. Electric, WVIZ and many others. For the Greater Cleveland Aquarium’s 2013 deep-sea exhibit, Sea Monsters: Truth or Tales, SpeedPro Imaging needed to swiftly turn around a large wall mural of a kraken (legendary sea monster). Danielle Ladovich, SpeedPro’s lead production manager/graphic designer, was able to quickly do a pencil drawing of the creature, which was then used to print the 12-foot by 36-foot wall mural.
“We bring people’s brands to life,” Lori Kolenich says. That can be done through advertising banners, large-format posters, window graphics, trade show displays, vehicle wraps, event graphics, wall murals, floor graphics, and outdoor signage.
The company also offers design and installation/set up of graphics. No matter the job, what the couple most prides itself on is SpeedPro’s customer service. “We turn around quotes quickly and continually build and maintain relationships,” Lori says. “We are proud of the work and service we offer.”
Before the two turned to entrepreneurship, they each spent 25 years working in the corporate environment in sales, marketing, and management. Downsized during the recession, they opted to strike out on their own and worked with a franchise consultant.
“SpeedPro Imaging stood out to us,” Jeff says. “The marketing, their support, commitment to customer service all resonated with us. The other owners we talked to had a similar background as ours, a similar passion, and it’s a fun business.”
Lori and Jeff also had the opportunity to own the first SpeedPro Imaging in Northeast Ohio. From the time they bought into the franchise in early 2011, in addition to networking and selling, they were also busy scouting a location for their studio. They needed flexible space but not a retail location and settled on Viking Parkway in Westlake for its convenience. The studio opened in March 2012. There are currently more than 120 SpeedPro Imaging studios in the United States, including one now on the East side of Cleveland. Jeff and Lori concentrate their business on downtown Cleveland, the western suburbs, and Lorain County. SpeedPro has six employees total and is looking to add a marketing and sales coordinator as well.
Both say building relationships has been key to growing their business. They are members of the Rocky River Chamber of Commerce, The Business Exchange, Destination Cleveland. Last winter Lori participated in Goldman Sachs’ 10,000 Small Businesses program and graduated from the 7th Cohort at Tri-C.
“That was enlightening in so many ways,” she says. “It was a tremendous learning experience.” Jeff recently joined the Opportunity Network Group led by business and sales coach Diane Helbig.
As they look ahead to 2016, they are keeping in touch with opportunities that might be available with the Republican National Convention and are also looking forward to ThistleDown’s planned expansion and renovation.
“Being members of Destination Cleveland,” Jeff says, “also helps us keep our fingers on the pulse of what’s going on in Northeast Ohio. We’re from here, we started our business here and we want to continue to partner with other Cleveland-area businesses.”
No matter the job, both say the business is fun and exciting and never the same. “Every day brings something new. The best is seeing people’s positive reactions when they see the project come to life,” Jeff says.
The challenge for the owners is to get to everything on their to-do list and “not getting caught up in working in your business but working on your business,” Jeff says. “It’s so easy to get caught up in the work and not on doing that long-term planning. You have to carve out time for that.”
As for working together as a couple, Jeff and Lori advise that whether you’re going into business with your spouse or just a partner, be sure to look at the strengths and weaknesses that each individual brings to the table. Find out where you can complement each other, and you better be able to spend time together, they joke.
For more information: speedproclevelandwest.com
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