NOMINEE: International Franchise Association’s ‘2023 Franchisee of the Year’FEBRUARY 23, 2023| SpeedPro Chicago Loop
SpeedPro Chicago Loop is proud to have been nominated by our corporate offices for the International Franchise Association’s (IFA), ‘2023 Franchisee of the Year’. This is the gracious submission which was made on our behalf.
Launched in 2015, SpeedPro Chicago Loop (SPCL) is a certified Service-Disabled Veteran Owned Business. From the beginning, and for the first several years, they broke countless performance records for a studio their age and had revenues commensurate with operations several years their senior; they received the coveted Rookie of the Year Award in 2016. That same year, not only was owner Eric Lazar elected to join SpeedPro’s Franchise Advisory Council (FAC) but his studio was tasked to produce graphics for the inaugural ChiTown Rising New Year’s Event, ranking among the Top 10 largest New Year events in the world; clearly proving that they could punch well beyond their weight class. The following year, Eric ascended to President of the FAC after less than two years as an owner, while his dynamic studio was approached by Laurence Gartel, the ‘father of digital art’, to wrap three vehicles for display at Miami’s famous Art Basel festival. The mind-blowing mobile car-art exhibitions were the fancy of the thousands of attendees and caught the discerning eye of several trade publications. The impressive track record clearly demonstrated that this small shop of just four people had the tenacity and skillset to take on highly visibility projects, resulting in team being awarded the contract for rebranding two British International School campuses in Chicago, for which they won 2018’s ‘Project of the Year’.
While SpeedPro Chicago Loop continued to build their brand and recognition within the highly competitive Chicago market, the COVID pandemic paralyzed their growth trajectory. Nonetheless, the Chicago Loop team quickly adapted, launching their ‘Signs of Hope & Thanks’ campaign to raise community spirits, and money, for first-responders; their efforts received both local and national press coverage. (Sample Coverage: FOX32-TV, NBC5-TV, WGN Radio, Sinclair Broadcasting) While 2020 was relatively stagnant from a revenue perspective, they emerged from the pandemic with their best year to date in 2021—in large part due to their continued dedication to corporate citizenry excellence. Their endless perseverance and willingness to undertake challenges typically suited for much larger printing companies was recognized when they were once again awarded ‘Project of the Year’ for their work on the St. Jude Dream Chicago inaugural event at the famous Millennium Park—making them the only studio to have received this honor twice. Energized by the community’s support and recognition of their efforts, SpeedPro Chicago Loop hit 2022 with renewed vigor, and is pacing to finish the year +60% over their highest historical annual revenue. The year was also marked by Eric’s long-time friend and business partner, Rebecca Considine’s election to the FAC, where she also sits as President.
Owners Eric Lazar, a U.S. Marine Corps veteran and Rebecca Considine a former television sales executive and wife of a Chicago police officer, have assumed an innovative and risk-taking posture since day one. They invested in a suite of equipment that only the most established and successful studios boasted, believing, ‘if you build it, they will come’. In the years following, they upgraded equipment, taking a first-mover approach within the franchise system and the print industry at large; purchasing the first OCE Colorado 1650 within the SpeedPro franchise system as well as taking delivery the first commercialized version of the EFI Pro 30H in the United States. Their hard-hitting out-of-the-box mindset set the foundation for SpeedPro corporate’s colorful rebranding a few years prior as well as established the standard for video, social media and email marketing.
Eric and Rebecca embraced philanthropy and community service as a primary pillar for their existence. They adopted a commitment to contribute 1% of proceeds to not-for-profits and charitable organizations through the donation of products, services and substantial discounts. However, their goodwill resulted in contributions exceeding 3% of total revenue—even in the years when they weren’t profitable. The two sit on multiple not-for-profit boards and leadership committees, to include, Chicago Marine’s Foundation, ProjectRelo, Small Business Advocacy Council, and Media Advertising Club of Chicago. They have previously held similar seats, volunteered efforts or mentored with Volunteers of America-Illinois, Lone Survivor Foundation, In My Brothers Shoes, Year-Up, Marine for Life and Chambers of Commerce.
As an extension of their commitment to being good corporate citizens, Eric and Rebecca have worked tirelessly to assemble a team encompassing people who reflect the diversity of Chicago’s community, believing than one can ‘hire for character and train for skill’. At present, the squad of six is 100% diverse, comprised of Service-Disabled Veterans, Women, African-American, Hispanic and LGBTQ.
Among their more amazing accomplishments, Eric and Rebecca embraced a unique business networking structure and philosophy upon which they built their business, going on to teach and enable hundreds of others to implement for themselves. The innovative approach to both networking and leadership has been featured in several podcasts (Sample Coverage: PC1, PC2, PC3, PC4) is credited for not merely exceeding revenue expectations, but for their stellar 5-star online reviews and that in all eight years of owning SpeedPro Chicago Loop, they have yet to make a single cold-call. Remarkably, they added over 340 new customers since 2021 with more than half of those coming in 2022.
Although their tenure in the printing business is still less than a decade long, Eric and Rebecca have established themselves as industry thought-leaders, frequently sought out, featured in and writing for trade publications on a wide range of topics. (Sample Content: Article1, Article2, Article3, Article4, Article5). In 2022, Eric was granted a full scholarship and graduated from the prestigious Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Business program while Rebecca simultaneously received 2nd Place amongst over one-thousand applicants for the highly competitive Founder’s First accelerator, receiving a $5,000 grant and graduating from their intensive 14-week program. The team has been further recognized as ‘3-Best Sign Shop’s in Chicago’ every year since 2018.
SpeedPro Chicago Loop exemplifies the ideal franchisee well beyond their revenue; they have earned the respect of their peers, not merely through their altruistic generosity of time in assuming leadership roles, but through their selfless sharing of creative and effective ideas, exploring and investing in new technologies, but most of all for the indelible impact they have on the people they employ and the community in which they serve. Indeed, SpeedPro Chicago Loop reflects great credit upon themselves and exceed the highest standards of our organization.