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Sabadosa: Palos Hills couple keeps reinventing recycling firm

Updated: May 22, 2013 6:08AM



Tomorrow is Earth Day. Since 1970, this holiday dedicated to increasing awareness of, and protecting, the environment has been celebrated annually on April 22.

It began in schools and with grass roots group in promoting peaceful demonstrations in favor of environmental reform.

Through the years, the movement has grown to emphasize the importance of “green” initiatives in preserving our natural resources and enabling us to become better stewards of our Earth. Over time, many Americans have developed a “reduce, recycle, reuse” mentality.

I recently reconnected with a former grade school classmate whose recycling idea has grown into an environmentally friendly and successful business.

Mike Tokarski and his wife Josie have been operating Midwest Laser for 24 years out of their Palos Hills home. They proudly boast of “saving an enormous amount of plastics, oil and cardboard from reaching our landfills.”

In addition, the couple feels good about helping local businesses save money by offering them remanufactured printer products.

The Tokarskis initially focused on remanufacturing printer toner cartridges. Initially, Mike would collect and rebuild the cartridges in their garage while Josie ran the front end of their business from their home office. Through the years, their son and daughter have worked part time for the business.

As one of the many “reinventions” of their company, Mike trained himself to repair LaserJet printers and some copiers. As the industry changed, so did their focus.

“We began buying more and more testing equipment and expanding our product line,” he said.

As their business grew, the couple eventually stopped the repair end of the business and contracted that out. That allowed them to focus on toner cartridge remanufacturing.

The couple realized in 2006 that there were too many different types of cartridges to continue remanufacturing them on their own. They shut down that part of their business and began outsourcing the work to larger companies.

The Tokarskis are now collaborating with several vendors and have established some major distribution sites. They are able to deliver most packages the next day or within two days throughout the contiguous United States.

Since the inception of their business, the Tokarskis have worked to develop an online “storefront.”

“I work on this every day and have loaded up over 1,000 products with pictures and descriptions,” Mike said.

He does his product promotions through Google Shopping and Amazon Marketplace and has become savvy in maintaining his email marketing campaign.

Over the past few years, their business has slowed, due in large part to the economic crisis, which has caused some clients to go out of business, Mike said, while others do less printing and more “electronic” reporting. He said a major problem is a flooding of the marketplace with “counterfeit toner cartridges sold at ridiculously low prices.”

The Tokarskis believe it’s time to again reinvent themselves. Mike’s vision is the transformation of the business from a local remanufacturing company to a nationwide, low-priced company featuring Earth-friendly printer supplies.

In addition to running an environmentally friendly business, the Tokarskis seem to have a true sense of how to keep a business afloat, even during tough times amid the fast-moving world of technology.

For more information about the Tokarskis’ business, go to www.ml-toner.com or call them at 1-888-858-4683.You may email them at sales@ml-toner.com.

News from our neighbors

Our Savior’s Lutheran Church will host its annual rummage sale from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. April 25 and from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. April 26 at the church, 8607 Narragansett Ave., Burbank. Profits will be used to assist area social service agencies and for local mission work. Please call (708) 599-4780 for more information.

Jenny Gembala, aka “Little MS Hopeful,” will be hosting her annual multiple sclerosis fundraiser from 6 to 10 p.m. April 27 at the Oak Lawn VFW Hall, 9514 S. 52nd Ave. Admission is $20 for adults, and kids may attend for free.

Entertainment will be by DJ Gus “Get Down” Lopez and DJ Wesley “DaWhiz.” The evening features food, a cash bar and door/raffle prizes. For more information, contact Jenny at (708) 288-2713 or Barb at (773) 251-8229.



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