When Luke and Lisa Burton purchased silk screening and printing company Huston Graphics & Printing in 2005, they had no idea they were walking into the start of a recession that would last years. Three years later, their facility was flattened by the level F4 tornado that ripped through Windsor.
For some new business owners, those events might have been enough to make them chalk up their losses and walk away. But not the Burtons. They set up shop in a temporary location while their building was being rebuilt and continued to struggle for the next three years with the blows the recession was raining on their business.
When Lisa Burton reflects on the last nine years, she credits a lot of hard work, superior customer service and maintaining high-quality products for getting the company through the rough times.
Huston Graphics & Printing has added items to its service roster. Initially the company provided silk screening for clients such as school sports teams and corporations. Now it has branched out to include embroidery and laser etching. It also has expanded its client list, taking advantage of the nearby oil and gas boom to provide companies with apparel specific to the needs of its industry.
“When we first started, the emphasis was definitely on screen printing for athletics stores and teams,” said Lisa Burton. “We’ve since tried to be strategic with our client base, adding more corporate clients. We now provide promotional items that go beyond apparel and caps. But we still strive to stay relevant to our (company) roots, but also grow to meet our clients’ demands.”
Huston Graphics & Printing certainly has accomplished its goals. From 2011 to 2012, the company’s revenues increased by nearly $200,000. The strategy it employed doubled revenues the following year to $1.2 million.
“It’s challenging to keep up and maintain the quality of the product,” admitted Lisa Burtom. “We want to make sure we’re growing with intent: not too fast, and keeping up with the varied needs of our clients. We’re working hard to be strategic and intentional in how we’re bringing on new staff and purchasing equipment and keep a good balance.”
What lessons have been learned and what would the Burtons do differently given the chance?
“If we had the first two years to do over again,” she mused, “I would have put more money aside in cash reserves to deal with the downturn we experienced. We’ve since changed our approach and won’t let that happen again.”
Well then, problem solved.