ASAP Printing is small, no doubt about it. But that’s kind of what owner Mohammad “Mo” Shiekhy likes about it: he has to take responsibility for everything.
He says his customer service is what sets ASAP apart from the others. But with a decline in paper printing — there aren’t many others like ASAP.
When Shiekhy took over the business from his friend in 1990, he says there were 13 print shops from Rosslyn to Glebe Road. Now, there are three.
What’s kept his business alive when so many have withered? That dedication to customer service and a willingness to keep up with new technology.
Shiekhy said being good to customers is the cornerstone of his business philosophy.
“I take [customer orders] very personally. I stay on top of the work until it gets done,” he said.
The business has a small staff of four, one to do each job — screen printing, offset, graphic design and front desk. Shiekhy says people who work for him tend not to last if they don’t take service as seriously as he does.
That said, two of his employees have been with the business for over 10 years. One of ASAP’s former employees started working the front desk in 1990 and worked there until she was 33, when she left to pursue accounting work. Shiekhy participated in her wedding.
Shiekhy explained that he includes consulting to make sure that the materials he’s making suit the clients’ needs and offers services at the lowest prices he can.
“I understand their goals when printing, the cheapest way and the best results,” he said. “They get marketing consultation, budget consultation, then they get their print done.”
As far as technology goes, ASAP is “101 percent up to date in that department,” Shiekhy says, talking about the new six-color screen printing machine he acquired last year. He also aims to keep up with whatever is best for the environment in both inks and fabrics in the screen printing industry.
Offset printing, which uses ink on plates, is not as popular as it used to be. Laser printers have made printing less expensive, especially for small orders. He still keeps offset printers around, however, as well as up-to-date laser printers, to give customers more options.
Shiekhy has moved around Arlington a number of times to get larger spaces to fit the machines, hire more employees and make his shop more accessible. His current spot is the shop’s fifth location. He says it’s the best one, because of windows and convenient parking.
The current business and location are the proof of how far Shiekhy has come from moving to the U.S. from Iran in 1976 with $18 in his pocket. He put himself through Temple University to be an electrical engineer. He had planned to go back, but ended up staying when the Iranian revolution broke out, and began a career in electrical engineering.
He originally was just an investor when ASAP Printing opened in 1986, but when his friend, the owner, left, Shiekhy took over. He had to leave his job as an engineer at a telecommunications company, but says he had invested too much to see the business fail. He says he’s never wanted to move the business outside of Arlington.
“First and foremost my home is in Arlington. I’ve always worked several minutes from home. I’ve worked until 2 a.m., I’ve come in on a Sunday to help customers,” he said. “When I started I had one child, then two, so the flexibility of working in Arlington gave me the chance to check on my kids, go to their school, pick them up and do anything that they needed.” Those kids have both graduated from college now.
Even though ASAP Printing has lasted through decades, moves and changes in printing technology, he says his children’s successes are his greatest accomplishment.
The preceding was a sponsored profile written by Eleanor Greene for ARLnow.com.