This week we got to speak with Chris Alexander, of Elite Lazer Engraving, to talk about his experience with AP Lazer and how it has impacted his business.
How did you find out about AP Lazer?
I originally had been looking to purchase a plasma CNC table. It was during this search that I discovered, by accident, AP Lazer in late 2018. It immediately piqued my interest with all the endless streams of income possibilities.
How did you fund your laser and how long do you expect it to take to pay off?
I secured my financing with a personal loan and ordered my 1812 on December 31, 2019. Due to COVID-19 shutdowns, I didn’t receive my laser until the end of April 2020. I gave myself a 3-year window to pay off my machine. I based this on, what I thought, was a conservative business plan. I will be making my last payment on January 17, 2020.
What was the biggest selling point of AP Lazer?
I ultimately decided to purchase an AP Lazer for several reasons. The biggest selling point was the open architecture design. Having the open architecture offered the ability to engrave anything and allowed me to provide engraving services to a wider customer base. 24/7 technical support and my salesperson, Shannon Hartwick, solidified my decision.
How difficult is it to run an AP Lazer?
The SN1812 didn’t offer in-house training so using a combination of tech support, APL University, and the AP Facebook User Group, I’d say within the first week I had the basics down. It took a solid month to feel comfortable with using the rotary tool and creating complex designs. Now all my time and energy is spent perfecting the editing process for photographs.
What have you used AP Lazer tech support for and how was your experience?
AP Lazer tech support has been with me from day one. They have helped me troubleshoot simple issues like remembering to focus my lens, assisting in software questions, and as serious as finding a faulty stepper motor. Every call I have made gets answered and every issue is solved. My experience with tech support has been excellent.
What do you like about the AP Lazer family?
“To some, the true meaning of family means a group of people related by blood or ancestry. To others, it has nothing to do with genes and has everything to do with love, compassion, and support.” The AP Family has been a huge asset to me and the hundreds of others that are part of it. We rely on each other to help solve issues and bounce ideas off each other. The advice I have been given has helped make my business successful.
Did you start your business when you purchased the AP Lazer?
Elite Laser Engraving was born 90 days after I received my 1812. I didn’t want to put myself and my business’s reputation on the line until I was confident that I could provide a quality product.
What is your business and how would you describe it?
While I have my hands in everything engravable, I focus on photography engravings. Offering portrait engravings and pet memorials have been a big part of my business. Slate, acrylic, painted ceramic, and glass are my favorite material to experiment with.
How would you describe the impact owning a laser has had on your business?
I went into this knowing that in order to make this business successful I had to be able to fill a need but also set myself apart by offering high-end products that could be repeatable but personalized. The satisfaction I get when a customer sees their engraving is beyond words.
How have you marketed your laser business and products?
Word of mouth has been very successful for me. I make a personalized item for one customer, they show it to friends and family and it just explodes from there. Social media has been a huge success for me. I try not to limit myself to one specific market because I’m willing to try anything.
Do you have a website, and do you think it is necessary?
I went back and forth with this decision but ultimately chose to go with a social media platform. Elite Laser Engraving is still a relatively young business but I have been extremely satisfied with this decision I chose. Social media gives me the ability to showcase my work and create a following that I can monitor. It’s also free. As my business grows I will reevaluate my marketing strategy.
How do you target your customers?
I don’t leave any stone unturned when it comes to who I target. Everyone is a potential customer. I see a need and I fill it. I offer suggestions on how to improve.
Where do you source your blanks from?
I source my materials from several places. APLazer store, JDS Industries, Johnson Plastics to name a few.
How do you determine the prices for your products?
This continues to be a “work in progress” topic for me. I look at local pricing for similar products and regularly ask for advice from the AP Lazer User Group on FB. I set a price point for items I offer regularly and I am much more comfortable in how I price my specialized items.
What products would you recommend a new owner start?
Start small and work your way up the ladder. Monogrammed or personalized cutting boards will always be a hit. Holidays will give you the opportunity to create that repeatable item and it can be very simple to make from scratch or a purchased design. Engraved tumblers are popular and a steady source of income for me also. Photography engraving keeps me the busiest buy far.
What is your favorite part about using the laser?
My favorite part of having my AP Lazer is that the possibilities to create something someone will are endless. Every day there is something new to discover and apply that to your product offerings.
In what ways do you see yourself using the laser in the future that you haven’t tried yet?
I am really looking forward to trying epoxy inlays. Combined with the custom engraving you can really highlight your work with epoxy. I am also excited about working with granite. Granite engraving will open up a whole new customer base for me.
What is the most creative/unusual object you’ve engraved?
I engraved a 4-foot piece of live oak that was going to be used as a workbench. It was the largest item to the date that I’ve engraved. The most creative had to be my acrylic ornaments. They are 4” diameter cast acrylic with family or pet images engraved into them. In less than 20 days I engraved over 218 of them, making them my most popular as well.
Do you have anything else you would like to add?
I often see in the AP Lazer Before you Buy FB page people being discouraged by the cost of one of these lasers. My advice to them is to really compare it to all the other options out there. There are not many manufacturers whose owner will give you his personal cell phone number out if you have a question to ask. They’re not that many manufacturers who will offer 24/7, 365 technical support or a better warranty. And lastly, you will not find a better support system from other owners out there. We are here to help everyone. I went into this with no prior experience and I have been extremely successful so far.
There you have it-
another success story that began with passion, drive, and an AP Lazer!
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