Promotional productivity

When Greg Muzzillo founded Proforma in 1978 with a college friend after graduating from Baldwin Wallace, he simply wanted to be an entrepreneur and run a successful business. It was a modest dream.

Within four years, he’d built the then-business forms company to $1 million in revenue and was well on his way. By 1986, Muzzillo realized that there was only so far he could grow the business, so he set out to develop a new business model that was scalable.

After buying out his partner, he settled on a business-to-business franchise model and transformed the company from selling simple business forms to a wider spectrum of print and promotional products.

Today, Muzzillo runs the company with his wife, Vera, who is co-CEO. Together, they have built Proforma into a burgeoning business with more than 650 member offices and franchisees scattered across North America serving more than 30,000 business clients.

Muzzillo’s franchise business model is simple. It relies on a 100-person support team at the company’s worldwide support center in Cleveland to provide tools and information to franchisees in order to help them succeed as individual Proforma businesses.

According to Muzzillo’s model, Proforma owners don’t just buy a franchise.

“They invest in a system to utilize our brand name, operating systems, marketing clout, educational tools, technology and ongoing support,” he says.

Proforma owners are supplied with proprietary software to run their businesses, and Muzzillo’s support center helps franchise owners obtain bank lines of credit, create marketing materials, e-commerce solutions and business acquisitions, as well as providing accounting and credit support.

This, Muzzillo says, leaves Proforma owners free to concentrate on the most important aspect of their business — selling.

To assist in keeping prices down, the corporate entity developed and manages Preferred Limited Partners, a network of preferred vendors that offer products at a reduced cost to Proforma owners.

Muzzillo says he views his role these days as helping franchise owners do exactly what he set out to do when he founded Proforma 28 years ago.

“People come to us with their dreams,” he says. “It’s important that we value those dreams and we do everything to ensure they have the ability to make them happen.”

HOW TO REACH: Proforma, (216) 520-8400 or