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Speed-O-Lite Printing Center

Speedolite-VerlottaWhen Dominic Verlotta goes to work at Speed-O-Lite Printing Center in Franklin Park, he carries more than a mental list of upcoming print jobs. Working 60-plus hours a week, he lives out the lessons passed down by his Italian parents, who hailed from the Campania region.

“When you’re family, you’re really family,” says Verlotta, who’s been in the printing business since 1975. “You help each other out, and that’s what it’s all about.”

Others invoke family in the abstract, but for Verlotta, it’s as close as the front counter. His wife of 29 years, Marketta, handles a wide array of tasks at Speed-O-Lite, from customer service to accounting.

“She’s very detail-oriented and the one who organizes me,” Verlotta says. “People are intrigued with her unique sense of hospitality. She was brought up in the Czech Republic and she brings that European style to customer service. People love her.”

They also love his right-hand man, Bill Bianchi, who handles Speed-O-Lite’s graphic design. “He does all of the layouts and monitors all the high-tech digital equipment,” Verlotta says. “He’s very sales-oriented also. If a customer wants an hour of his time, they get it. People ask for him specifically.”

Over the years, Verlotta has seen tremendous changes in the printing business. Computer technology has elevated the craft to a level no one could have imagined in the 1970s, when Verlotta switched from working as an ice cream industry executive.

Today, Speed-O-Lite is a full-service print shop capable of taking a job from design to fulfillment. “We do a lot of corporate work — business forms and stationery statements — and we produce a lot of advertising and marketing material like newsletters and brochures,” Verlotta explains.

One lesson learned from his time in the ice cream business has remained a constant, even as technologies turn over: It’s all about relationships.

“Our biggest asset is the relationship with the customer. We really get to know their businesses,” Verlotta says. “Once we connect with a new client, we treat him like he’s been our customer for 20 years. We build up a trust doing the right thing for him. While the profit motive is still there, it comes second to doing the right thing.”

Verlotta takes pride in producing quality work on time and within budget. “We have a motto: ‘Whatever it takes,’” he says. “If it’s humanly possible, we’ll do it.”

That might mean extending discounts here and there when customers might not request them. But for Verlotta, it’s the way he’s always done things, and always will.

“It’s my philosophy of business,” he says. “That’s why when I was in the ice cream business, I had quite a following. It’s the value-added services, doing the extra things at no charge.”

That thinking extends to his life outside work. Verlotta serves on many boards, from Casa Italia and the Italian American Veterans Museum to Orchard Village and the Camp Duncan YMCA in Ingleside. Being involved in these and several other organizations, “is my way of giving back,” he explains.

But it’s the print shop that remains the hub of his life, and an apt printing metaphor sums up the secret of Speed-O-Lite’s success:

“In terms of attitude,” Verlotta says, “you’re dealing with three people who are all on the same page.”

Speed-O-Lite Printing Center
10005 Franklin Ave.
Franklin Park, IL 60131

About Lou Carlozo

A former longtime staff writer, editor and columnist for the Chicago Tribune, Lou Carlozo is a personal finance contributor to Reuters and the proud writer of Fra Noi’s Lou&A column, which spotlights important Italian Americans. He is currently studying for his master’s degree at National-Louis University, where he teaches journalism and writing on the graduate school level. He also writes for the Tribune Content Agency and a variety of other freelance outlets including DealNews, Money Under 30 and Yesware. He lives in the North Center neighborhood of Chicago with his wife of more than 17 years, Amy (a hospice chaplain), and two children.