UK Remanufacturer Celebrates 40-Year Anniversary
40 years ago Ronald Reagan was president of the USA, Michael Jackson first did the Moon Walk at the American Music Awards and Laura Heywood and partner Don Barker commenced their printer and supplies business in the United Kingdom.
“The year was 1983 and it was also the year we entered the market in the UK,” said co-founder Laura Heywood. “Don had his engineering background and my background was with meeting and talking to people having been a flight attendant with United Airlines for three years.”
Kleen Strike Inc., was Heywood’s father’s company which began in Baltimore, Maryland in 1960. It serviced the typewriter and ribbons industry. Heywood and Barker sought the technical support of Kleen Strike. “We introduced a new concept, a service of reloading the ribbon in the printer cartridges for dot matrix printers,” added Heywood.
Many of the staff have been with the company for many years. Kleen Strike has also been the recipient of many awards over the years including the Rochdale Business Award in the category of the Environment in 2013 and runner-up of Manchester’s Green Award for 2014. Industry awards have included The Remanufacturer of the Year by The Recycler, and a Lifetime Achievement Award by the global remanufacturing industry for Heywood’s industry contributions.
Heywood has made several trips to Westminster to promote reuse with Environment Ministers, Shadow Environment Ministers, and Ministers with the DTI. She has attended Environment Agency workshops and contributed to workshops that resulted in the UK Government’s ‘Triple Win Report on Remanufacturing’.
Heywood remembers how her business would collect all the used cartridges which would be remanufactured. At first, these were used ribbon cassettes. “Besides collecting their used cassettes to reload there would be the odd partially eaten sandwich, and used pens,” Heywood muses. “And every week we would drop off freshly reloaded, boxed cassettes. A few years later when they switched to toners we continued collecting the used toners and returning those. The majority were the HP2 – and at the time this one cartridge had 85 percent of the market.”
Heywood remembers the early days as being very stable for her business. “Equipment was expensive and people weren’t inclined to upgrade so frequently. The toner cartridges were so highly engineered that they could be remanufactured many times.” Shortly after introducing remanufactured toner cartridges to the business model, they introduced the refilling inkjets.
According to Heywood, not many dramatic changes have taken place in the industry over the 40 years. “The biggest impact on OEMs and remanufacturers alike has been the availability of new-build single-use compatible cartridges. A number of remanufacturers are now offering these as well as remanufactured cartridges in order to be competitive and survive,” said Heywood.
Heywood said Kleen Strike will continue to offer new and second-user printers, printer repairs, stationery products and consumables and even a few nylon ribbons. “We still reload for a handful of customers and should a new concept or opportunity occur we’ll be sure to embrace it as we’ve always done.”
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