(The dedicated staff of Printer Resources & Recycling in a fun moment together | Photo courtesy of Printer Resources & Recycling, LLC)
For Frank Patka, co-owner and CEO of Printer Resources & Recycling, LLC in Bend, the expression that when one door closes, another one opens, has proven quite true. After four years of working for Lasercharge, a company that took used toner cartridges and rebuilt them, he was laid off in 2000 when the business was sold. But he took the experiences he gained on that job and opened his own business, and 22 years later, Printer Resources & Recycling is going strong.
Patka got into the printing industry in 1996 after 20 years of serving as a youth pastor in Idaho and Bend, he says, because he had retired from youth pastoring and needed a job. “The sales job for Lasercharge opened up, so I applied, and they hired me. Lasercharge was a unique company that took used OEM (Original Equipment Manufacturer) toner cartridges and rebuilt them so that the customer could get a better price and be sustainable.” After Lasercharge was sold in 2000 and they let him go, Patka says he realized he had enjoyed the idea of sustainability and had many positive contacts from the job, so he started Printer Resources & Recycling.
In those early days, his company had humble beginnings, he says. “I started out in a shack on 27th Street. It was a small building with a big sign, and no bathroom; I had to use the one at the Shell Station on the corner,” he says with a laugh. “There was only a space heater, and it had golden worn shag carpet and small windows. It truly looked like a brown shack.”
After about a year and a half in that building, Patka says the owners came in and told him the building would be knocked down in a few days to accommodate the Comfort Inn that was going in on the site. “I took a walk and found that Storage Solutions (2669 NE Twin Knolls Dr.) had an opening in Suite 205, so I quickly signed the paperwork and started the moving process to where I am today, including additional Suites 204 and 206. I’ve been here since about 2002.”
Printer Resources & Recycling specializes in inkjets, laser printers, toners and inks, and offers free delivery to businesses, storefronts and residences. Patka says the past five years have been their best so far. “Having the best, committed and long-term staff makes a huge difference,” he says. “I always thought the digital world would close our doors, but people like the printed page, still.” His staff includes Marc Giltner, co-owner and vice president of Service; Mickey Meszaros, vice president of Sales; Jennifer Clark, office manager; and Jason Blodgett, who oversees recycling. “We all truly enjoy our customers feeling happy and cared for,” says Patka.
The recycling services offered by the company are a testament to the commitment of Patka and his staff to sustainability. He estimates that since 2003, they have sent more than 103,500 toners to the recycling center, along with more than 142,000 inkjet cartridges, more than 3,640 printers and 3,000+ miscellaneous computer-related items. “I like this business, because we enjoy our local customers, keeping them printing smoothly and economically while helping with their sustainability measures,” he says. “We actually aid businesses who do not buy from us, by getting their computer and printer-related supplies recycled with free pickup.”
In addition to the recycling program, Printer Resources & Recycling also partners with Trees for the Future through a monthly donation to help plant trees where they are needed. Patka says the business has been involved with Trees for the Future for 15 years, (trees.org) and he estimates that they have helped with the planting of more than 160,000 trees. One tree is planted for each repair made or product sold. The company also supports the Deschutes Land Trust (deschuteslandtrust.org) monthly. “It’s great to know that we can keep these used products out of our landfills, while also restoring land by having trees planted,” he says.
During the pandemic, Patka says his business was deemed essential, so they kept on going. “We actually gained ground, because some of the bigger companies couldn’t provide the service. The major office supply companies here in Bend and many local computer companies recommend us for printer service, and that’s a plus.” He adds, “Our staff is small, but strong and committed, so we had no problem with staffing. What a great bunch to work with. I’m privileged and blessed. We laugh a lot, face challenges and seek excellence a lot.”
The biggest struggle Patka and his team currently face, he says, is competing against the OEM producers such as HP, Canon and Lexmark, and the bigger players in the industry. “The growth of Bend has caused larger businesses to go with a more expensive model with larger corporations. But we have a more personal, hands-on approach, and strive for a personal touch and integrity.” He adds, “The supply chain this past year has been an issue, too.”
Moving forward, Patka says that although he enjoys working with his team and does not plan to retire anytime soon, he says he is inching toward becoming a bit less involved with the business so he can travel and spend time with friends and family. He has three adult children, three grandsons and one granddaughter, and a mom in her 90s in Southern California. His goal, he says, is to always be an inspiration to those he meets. A plaque on his wall reads, “Inspire: to encourage someone to greater effort, enthusiasm or creativity; to awaken a particular feeling in someone.” He is also known for always wearing a Hawaiian shirt, he adds with a chuckle. “That’s why I love Bend, you can dress however you want, especially if you own the business.”
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