Before acquiring an Allegra Marketing · Print · Mail Center in Lehigh Valley, Pennsylvania in 2016, Ed Kelchner led a remarkably varied career.

“Most recently, I worked for 17 years in the financial field at a nationwide bank and a major credit card company,” said Ed. “Before that, I was in aircraft engine manufacturing and, prior to that, served as an officer in the U.S. Airforce.”

Throughout it all, Ed displayed an entrepreneurial mindset.

“No matter what my position or title, I always took ‘ownership’ of a project or assignment,” said Ed. “I believe that you’re not defined by your job description but by what you do, and how you make the most of the opportunity.”

In the back of his mind, he knew he wanted to put this mindset into practice as the owner of his own business. And, indeed, he established a number of side companies over the years while employed in the corporate world. But still, self-ownership called …

An ownership search that began decades ago

“Actually, I was looking for the right ownership opportunity for 20 or 25 years. I considered thousands of businesses to acquire — both independent and franchise affiliated,” said Ed. “Ultimately, a franchise came to the forefront as I realized I’d be more comfortable with the support and coaching of a network.”

But, which franchise business to choose? He considered many — including the largest quick-serve restaurant chains. However, the cost of acquiring a national hamburger location or sandwich shop is out of reach of most.
“I took stock of not only my finances but also my talents,” said Ed. “Over the years, I gained experience in leadership, process management, marketing, call centers, operations, and accounting. I even had some familiarity working with printing shops.”

An opportunity presents itself … and another

So, when in 2016 the owner of the Allegra in Lehigh Valley was ready to retire and sought to sell, Ed knew he finally found the right opportunity. But, that acquisition was just for starters.

To operate a Center of the size, scope, and sales with which Ed wanted, he simultaneously purchased a nearby independent printer with three times the revenue of the Allegra location.

“Obtaining financing for not one but two printing operations raised more than few eyebrows at the bank,” said Ed. “But, with perseverance and the help of the Allegra Development team, I was able to close two deals in one sitting!”

With Allegra operations now consolidated at the larger of the two facilities, Ed is finally enjoying the challenge of self-ownership. He notes that the business-to-business nature of his operation is a plus, as you can develop ongoing relationships and realize repeat sales. This is an advantage he’d be far less likely to enjoy if he’d found his way into selling hamburgers or sandwiches as once considered.

Ed now operates his Allegra Center with one eye on day-to-day operations and the other on the future. Employing 26 people, he’s been upgrading technology, adding equipment, and incorporating new software to enhance job tracking and project scheduling.

His achievements have not gone unnoticed by his clients, his employees … or his peers.

In 2017, Ed Kelchner was named “Rookie of The Year” by the Marketing & Print Division of Alliance Franchise Brands — his franchising organization. Given his drive, we suspect more awards and greater success are sure to follow.