Jim Caughorn is one of those people you just love. Charismatic, sharp, and hardworking. If you do business with him, you know he delivers way past expectations each and every time.
Jim gets to be our first Digital Story in our new video stories, Scruffy City Stories: Digital Storytelling, in collaboration with our partners at J2 Videos. We're excited to share Jim's journey here in our Scruffy City.
Here's his story.
The Short Story
- What are your personal hobbies? Golf, running, and family.
- How do you manage work-life balance? Work-life balance is very tricky, and depending who you ask you will get an answer on how well I do it.
- How would someone contact you? Phone: 865-522-6221 or email: email@example.com
- What is your favorite business tool? My favorite business tool that we use, I gotta tell you our new router cutter is my favorite thing. Love to watch it.
- Who is your favorite author or influencer? Love to read Seth Godin.
- What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given? Move to Knoxville and buy my half of the business. Thanks Dad.
- What would you tell yourself 10 years ago? Be patient and realize that it does go as fast as everyone says.
The Digital Story
Click on the video to watch it. Enjoy!
Behind the scenes
What brought you to Knoxville?
So I came to Knoxville in 1987, and came here to go to the University of Tennessee to start college, and my dad was originally from Knoxville so that is what brought me here from Washington D.C.
What does Knoxville mean to you?
Knoxville is home, is the short word for me, and it’s full of a lot of experiences from college all the way up through business, so it’s a big part of my life.
What would surprise people to learn about you?
Probably the most funniest thing that’s happened is that I actually found a way to get through college and graduate because I did everything to derail that experience, so I would say if most people look back they’d find that pretty funny that I actually got it done.
How did you get started with Graphic Creations?
When I was in college for that long and luxurious career, I worked at Graphic Creations pretty much all the way through college, and about a year after I graduated, and then left the company and, you know, I had some intimate knowledge about the workings of what was going on just because it was a family business but didn’t have any influence from that period up until about 2009. I had family here, and my kids, and the distance was getting more difficult as the kids were getting older, so I needed to make, you know, a personal change, which Graphic Creations was really the avenue and outlet for me to be able to do that.
How do you move from working in the business, to working on the business?
It’s probably the hardest thing as an owner/operator to do is to make that shift, but once we put the right team together, got the right people in the right seat on the bus, it’s allowed us to, Debbie and I both, to focus on the things that we want to do to help grow the business and give our team the tools that they need to be effective and doing what they do for our clients. So I’ve made that shift; it’s not easy because you always want to be in it and a part of it, but releasing yourself for some of the processes each day and letting those take hold with your employees has been a big help.
What are some of the biggest challenges you have had at Graphic Creations?
The biggest challenge that we have in this industry is probably staying up with the overload of technology and, you know, how to manage when to invest in that and when not to, and making sure that you don’t try to spend your way and your success, and taking a slower look at new developments and technology because if you get impulsive you can end up with a lot of stuff that you’re never going to use. So we’ve tried to get a little bit better at that.
What was the last big purchase your business made?
So in July we bought a new router cutter piece of equipment, which doesn’t sound really sexy but it gives us a lot of diversity in what we can deliver in terms of finished good for point of purchase displays. You know, we can pretty much cut anything from down to a millimeter in thickness up to two inches, and all kinds of different substrates, so it’s a really really cool piece that finishes off what we already do in wide format printing.
Why choose Graphic Creations?
The short answer is: our focus is really really trying to protect the customer’s brand and what they have spent, in a lot of cases a lot of money, building and making sure that the brand is consistent, all the way from their business card, their apparel, their swag, and all those different items in between. We really are hyperfocused on all elements of that, and how we help them manage what goes out, so that they don’t get fragmented, somebody’s running down the street and getting something printed here, and then getting this there. We try to incorporate all of it into our offering.
Who are some of your clients?
So the clients are a really diverse group, you know we do a lot of stuff for boutique firms, companies, start-ups. They may have nothing in terms of design or logos, and so we help them from that early stage to the actual brand and getting it printed. Then we have a lot of clients, fortune 500 companies, that have internal marketing departments, and they are just sending out files and needing to get it yesterday, so we work really well at crisis management for our clients. That is kind of the culture here. We focus on making sure we get it done as soon as they want it if not sooner to make room for the next crisis the next day. I would say that is kind of our culture, our people are really spot on and ready to jump.
What was your favorite project?
My favorite project that we’ve done bar none was the medal of honor convention, when it was here. We had the opportunity to design and print 53 retractable banners for all of the medal of honor recipients that were going to be in Knoxville for that convention. It was a very personal experience for my employees and for myself, and the opportunity to go to the actual convention with our team was incredible. So that’s bar none my favorite.
Do you sell any unique products?
So one of the really cool things that we do here that nobody else is doing in Knoxville is the printable flooring. It is a ⅛ inch vinyl that we actually reverse image print on and can put on virtually anything you want from a corporate logo to any type of design, and it is a 10-12 year rated commercial flooring, highly customizable, and nobody else is doing it.
How do you promote Graphic Creations?
Our biggest vehicle for promoting our business is in the community. We are involved in a lot of nonprofits whether we are sitting on advisory boards or doing any kind of donations for different organizations in town, and through that we are able to network with other business owners that are involved and have a likeness for those organizations. So really , good old-fashioned networking has been probably our key component.
What is coming up next for your business?
Probably the next thing for us, you know, organic growth is always a key component each year, but we’re going to start looking at some additional acquisitions. We did one in 2015 and probably will have that on the radar in the next 10-24 months. So February 1st will be exactly a year that we kind of merged the two businesses together and moved out of our old facility. It’s been a labor of love for the last 15-18 months going from 4,000 square feet to what we are now, almost 13,000. It has created a whole new opportunity for us in terms of processes and eliminating a lot of, really kind of waste, inside of our own process just because of facility management, so it’s been great.
What was your favorite promotion?
So one of our great promotions we did, I guess 5 years ago, for the 25th anniversary was a Wrap My Ride contest where people submitted a video about why they should win a free vehicle Wrap. So instead of re-inventing a wheel for our 30th, we are going to have the second whatever annual vehicle Wrap My Ride contest, and we will be launching that some time probably this spring or summer, so look for it on Facebook, and we will be popping it out through different media outlets.
Check out the 2013 Wrap My Ride Contest Winner: Winning Video
Thanks for tuning in! Catch you next time.