We all know the name Kinkos and have probably even been into one of their stores and used their services (and we have written a lot about the range of services already on thsi website !). But where did Kinkos come from and what are their origins ?

Well one of the most fascinating things about the company is the name itself – rather than being created about a product or person or even dreamt up by some high flying marketing guy it actually originated from a nickname. The company was found in 1970 by Paul Orfalea and because Paul had curly hair he was known as “Kinko” and a new brand was born !. The first kinkos copy shop was opened with only a single copying machine on a sidewalk near the University of California in Santa Barabara.

Kinkos - Paul Orfalea

Paul was to grow the company to over 130 shops (largely run through “partnerships” with the owners of each shop) and he stayed with the comany until 200o when a dispute with Clayton, Dubilier & Rice  led to his departure ( Clayton, Dubilier & Rice  where a large invetsment company to whom Paul had sold a considerable stake of the growing busines to in 1997)

The business model was not a traditional franchise model where new owners buy new stores and an off the shelf business package and support that enables them to get up and running quickly, insted new shop owners became “partners” in the business. It went down this route as this was believed to offer the most flexible and easy to administer method of growing the company.

In 2004 Kinkos was bought by Fedex for around $2.4 billion and this began a long and painful move from the traditional name of Kinkos to Fedex Office (through the transitionary Fedex Kinkos). Such was customer familiarty and loyalty to the brand that even after the name charges large signs had to be placed in store windows saying “Kinkos Inside”

As well as growing the size of the business Paul Orfalea also grow the range of servise offered from pure copy shop to full print servcies, design and IT sevices. May stores also stocked a range of stationwery plays to supplemet their print and copy business. After it was taken over by Fedex the range of services was also extended through access to the wide range of Fedex parcel and distribution services.

The company also grew internationally with outlets as far and wide as South Kuwait, Lebanon, Europe and Japan (although the Japanese branches were later sold to Konica Minolta)

As you can see the company grew from a tiny beginning to a huge multi national worth billions of dollars in only 30 years – quite an achievement for its founder and namesake Paul “Kinko”Orfalea !