Why So Blue
I had been married for 3 years in 1999. Bill and I had just bought our first house and went to the Chester County SPCA to adopt our first dog. There were many Pit Bulls and Rotweilers, but quitely seated among them was a dog that really stood out…because she was BLUE! She had been abused by her previous owners…tied to a pole, no shots, rarely fed, physically beaten and —the last straw—dyed from head to toe in blue. We brought her home and quickly fell in love. All she wanted to do was sit in my lap…and she was a 45 pound dog!
At that point, I had my own graphic design business, called Designing Wright. In 2000 we found out that we were expecting our first child, so we had to make room for a nursery! We moved Designing Wright into the basement and in March of 2001, our daughter Alex was born. I hired a full-time designer so I could cut back my hours to only 3 days a week, giving me 2 days a week to be “Mommy.” To this day, I can’t give up my slippers…I’m often found wandering around the office with them on.
Unleashing An Idea
One day in 2003, Bill was reading the Sunday paper and saw a print shop for sale. He turned to me and said “Hey, what if you could print all the stuff that you design?” I thought he was crazy…all I could picture was a noisy, smelly print shop with paper and ink all around. Not to mention the fact that neither one of us knew a darn thing about running an offset press! He suggested we at least take a look at it.
At that same point in time, I was working on benefit books for the NFL…32 teams with all different information for players and coaches. My client and I kept thinking “There has to be an easier way than making 64 documents.” That’s when we investigated something new in the industry…digital printing. Bill and I went to look at the existing print business and wanted to integrate the new digital print technology into the client base, but saw that the numbers were not going to add up to keep running the offset equipment. We looked at each other and said “Let’s just start our OWN print shop!”
Here Spot! Or Bingo? Or Rover?
The wheels were set in motion, equipment was leased, office space was found, paperwork was filed. The only problem was that we didn’t have a name! Bill and I have very opposite personalities, and we couldn’t agree on anything…his names were too “boring” and mine were too “out there” for him. On the night of our 7th wedding anniversary, we were out to dinner at Duling Kurtz and I said “We are not leaving this table without a name!” Needless to say, we racked up quite a bar bill that night. I threw out “DigiDog” and Bill said “I kind of like that…” I couldn’t believe it! He actually LIKED one of my suggestions (even if just a little bit) and then he said “What about Blue Dog?” At that instant, I knew it was the perfect name, I could already see the logo in my mind. What better inspiration than the pup who stole our hearts by standing out from the rest?
With only $10,000 to put forth in this venture, we made the most of our money. Our first day in the new office space was daunting…we had 2,800 square feet to fill, and all that was in there was a desk left by the previous tenants, my computer, a phone and this large digital printer. Quickly, we had to hire a prodution person. Bill was still working full-time for Wawa in their Training Center so we could make sure Blue Dog would pay the bills. A year later, Bill was able to quit his job at Wawa and we began working full-time together with a production person. Shockingly, we are STILL working together full-time and STILL married!
Barking Up The Right Trees
Word of mouth spread, we joined the Greater West Chester Chamber of Commerce and the Exton Region Chamber of Commerce and business went gangbusters. Soon, we expanded our services from graphic design and digital printing, to large format printing as well. The equipment we purchased allowed us to offer our clients the inhouse capability for printing posters and banners. In 2009, we ran out of room…so we relocated 100 feet from our front door to a 6,000 square foot office space in the same business park. Imagine the looks we got while wheeling an 8 foot laminating machine across the parking lot. Once we moved, we decided that we were bored and wanted to take on even MORE business, so we started selling promotional advertising specialties (pens, mugs, shirts, etc.).
Your Best Friend
We’ve always believed in running our business like a family, and strive to treat our employees and customers as such. Our daughter is now 14 and Blue Dog is her second home. Although she complains sometimes, she helps out with stuffing envelopes and shrink wrapping. She loves being creative, and always has the best looking science fair project in school.
Our doghouse is open 8:00am-4:30pm, M-F, so stop by or give us a bark at 610.430.7992.