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A press for expansion

Posted: September 17, 2011 8:38 p.m.
Updated: September 17, 2011 8:38 p.m.

AK Printing owner Aiden Khachi, of Stevenson Ranch, stands inside the 2,000-square-foot space that his business recently moved to in Santa Clarita.

 

The owner of AK Printing is a man with several goals.

One aim of owner Aiden Khachi is to build his business by helping other business owners grow their own companies.

And Khachi’s efforts are paying off. The 3-year-old company recently expanded and moved into a 2,000-square-foot space, nearly tripling the floor space of the business.

Tiring of the daily commute, at the end of 2007 the Stevenson Ranch resident sold the Beverly Hills print shop he worked at since 1993. Soon after, Khachi launched AK Printing in Newhall.

“I worked at home as a print broker for the first seven to eight months,” Khachi said.

When he opened his first storefront in January 2009, Khachi didn’t have any printing equipment yet and outsourced all of his own business, charging his customers nearly what he paid for the jobs he sent out.

“I was just barely breaking even,” he said.

AK Printing charges a lower than average fee for business cards as a means of attracting new customers. New customers allow Khachi the opportunity to show clients everything else the company can provide, including customized print orders and services.

“We only charge $39 for 1,000 business cards,” Khachi said. “And we let people make (photo) copies for only four-cents.”

AK Printing’s business practices have generated more than 800 customers in just three years.

“Sixty to 70 percent of those customers are active. We have a lot of repeat business from our customers,” he said.

Friendly town
Khachi has nothing but praise for his customers in the Santa Clarita Valley.

“I haven’t seen any city with the personality of the customers, and relationships that exists, here,” he said.

Comparing residents and business owners in Santa Clarita to Beverly Hills, Khachi said people are so friendly here. He was never happy with his other customers, but locally, Khachi says he sits down and talks with his customers and even lunches with them.

After going on vacation for four days, Khachi said he found himself missing his customers in Santa Clarita. It’s just a very friendly place.

“Aiden’s very customer oriented,” said Lynn Walker, office manager for the Santa Clarita School of Performing Arts in Newhall. “He lets me just sit down with his designer when we need something new.”
Local Chick-Fil-A marketing director James Kneblik agrees.

“I have all good things to say about Aiden,” Kneblik said. “He’s been a friend of the restaurant.”

‘The economy is us’
People say the economy is bad, Khachi said. “But it’s not the economy that’s bad, the way we do business is bad. The economy is ‘us’,” he said.

Khachi’s goal is to help new businesses the way other businesses helped AK Printing grow.

If you help the customer and fit his or her budget, you do business and help yourself but you also help the other business grow, he said.

“We’re here to generate business and bring more work and more employees to Santa Clarita,” Khachi said.
And he isn’t greedy, he said. He doesn’t focus on prices and profits, but on quantity. He plans to continue growing his business through volume.

Growing the business based on volume translates to ongoing growth for AK Printing. Today, six employees help run the printing business and despite the economic downturn, Khachi has never laid anyone off, he said.
“Business has increased 40 percent every year,” he said.

AK Printing doesn’t operate with a high profit margin because Khachi’s been re-investing the profits back into the business to buy more equipment and keep prices low, he said.

Customer-focused
Customers walk into AK Printing to order business cards or other business-related materials, but they don’t necessarily know how to package or market their business, Khachi said.


“Most people don’t know how to present themselves,” he said. “We help them build their branding.”

Sixty percent of business is repeat business because our customers see what we do for them, they trust our results. If we see they need design help, we sit them down with our designer. If they need help with their web presence, we hire a professional for them.

While AK Printing doesn’t focus on those services as a printing business, the company does provide the services when a customer is putting together a whole printing package and needs help building his or her business and image.

“When you build your customer, you build yourself,” Khachi said.

AK Printing prides itself on helping people in a way online order-only businesses cannot do by providing the personal assistance. It also takes on a number of custom orders and will print anything: posters, banners, signs and more.

AK Printing handles anything and everything we need to have printed,” Walker said. “And it does it on a timely manner.”

And if the firm can’t do a job itself, it refers customers to other AK Printing customers, building a “community business village,” not just a print shop, he said.

“Khachi was instrumental in helping us give a sandwich out to almost every household in SCV,” said Kneblik of Chick-Fil-A.

The business has also made charitable donations of printing and cash to give back to the community.

“I’m here to reach a six-digit figure, no doubt,” Khachi said. “But first I want to make my customer happy.”


Goals

Aside from his personal mission of helping other local businesses grow, Khachi has a goal of amassing more than 1,000 customers by the end of this year.


And he is a passionate believer in advertising to build his business.

“People don’t understand marketing,” Khachi said. “They put an ad in one or two times and expect results the next day.

“They don’t understand ads need long-term exposure to generate results.”

He also plans to keep making customers happy by giving them what they pay for and more.

In addition to helping other local businesses grow, and building a customer base of more than 1,000 customers by year-end, Khachi has one more goal.

“My goal is to dominate the (print) market,” he said.

AK Printing is located at 23216 Lyons Ave. in Newhall and can be reached at (661) 259-2212. Services offered are listed on its website at  www.akprints.com.

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