Monday, April 18, 2016

Celebrating 20 Years: Relationships Make the Difference

Canton-Ohio-signs-banners-displays“What’s your twenty?”

That’s another way of saying, “Where are you?” And it’s a great question to ask as we celebrate our “twenty” – the 20th Anniversary of Creative Source.

We’ve come a long way in 20 years. Dave Hess and I started the company with three other associates in 1996. We had previously worked together in the marketing department at Camelot Music, once one of the world’s largest music retailers. Based in North Canton, Camelot and other retail music chains began to disappear in the 1990s as the industry scrambled to keep up with the digital age. Seeing the handwriting on the wall, a group of us struck out on our own to form Creative Source.

Since then, the world has been turned on its head by technology. When we opened our doors, the Internet was still a novelty. Most people didn’t own home computers to connect to it, let alone enjoy the convenience of smart phones and other mobile devices we take for granted today.

The music industry had experienced rapid change in the 1970s and '80s. Record albums and 45s gave way to 8-track tapes, then cassettes, and then CDs. Movies and TV shows moved from VHS tapes to Laser Discs to DVDs and Blu-ray. Today, it’s all about the Internet and apps.

In the sign industry, similar changes have occurred. I recall when we were at Camelot and desktop computing technology became available. We were told that we could have one computer for a department of five graphic artists. (Our IT department thought they were being generous when they gave us 2GB of server space!) The breakthrough came when we finally got five computers (one for each artist), each with 560MB of storage, along with a scanner and a black-and-white printer—all for $50,000. Systems that are infinitely more powerful today can be purchased for a fraction of that cost.

Over time that computer technology, combined with the speed of delivery available over the World Wide Web, reduced production times from weeks or even months to just days, and sometimes even hours.

(An early version of our logo)
Even as we’ve witnessed breathtaking technological progress over these past 20 years, we’ve been reminded that some things are timeless. I remember Paul David, the founder of Camelot, saying, “Success in business comes from offering a great product, providing outstanding service, and building strong relationships.”

Maybe that’s why our company is built as much on relationships as anything else. Sure, we’re experts in producing signs, banners, displays and large format printing for businesses of all sizes. But, more than that, we strive to be a unique and innovative resource center for good ideas. We get to know our customers and help them develop cost-effective marketing solutions. It’s a formula that has served us well.

As we celebrate 20 years in business, I want to extend my personal thanks to all those who have been a part of the journey. What began out of necessity has developed into a small but powerful example of the American Dream. We’re honored to be a part of the community and hope you’ll join us in 2016 as we celebrate this important milestone in our company’s history.

Mike Boyd is the president of Creative Source, a Canton, Ohio sign company.