It's 2021, and a whole lot has changed over the last few months, not to mention year. Everything is new in its way –new ways of working, interacting, traveling, shopping. New worries, and also new opportunities.
For me, 2020 marked the year I achieved my goal to buy a business – and what a business it is.
If you’re reading this, you may already know The Digital Frontier and I might be what’s new, or perhaps it’s the reverse. In any case, allow me to introduce us.
The Digital Frontier is a 26-year-old large format and digital printing company located in beautiful Arvada, Colorado. We are now certified as a Woman-Owned Small Business (WOSB), and a Minority/Woman-Owned, Small, “Emerging,” and “Disadvantaged” Business Enterprise (MWBE, SBE, EBE, and DBE). These designations are useful when bidding on government projects, or when partnering with large companies, as these often have requirements for a percentage of work to go to companies with minority or female ownership (WOSB & MWBE), revenues below a certain level (SBE & EBE), and/or whose owners’ personal net worth(s) is below a certain level (DBE).
Though small, The Digital Frontier is mighty. Thanks to a great team and having the latest print technology and tools in-house, we produce impeccable print quality in less time at a competitive price. Indoor or Outdoor Signage, Banners, Wall Coverings, Building and Vehicle Wraps, (Covid and other) Floor, Wall, & Window Graphics, Sterilizable Materials, Bound Proposals, Employee Documentation, Stationery, Brochures, Business Cards, even Augmented Reality Print – you name it, we can print it.
Since I’m still relatively new to owning the company, I figure I can still unabashedly gush about the business, and so I shall – here, just this once.
I love everything about this business. I looked at a lot of companies that I thought might be a good fit. Now that I’ve purchased this one, I know none of the others even came close.
What makes The Digital Frontier so great?
The team. These folks know printing inside and out, which is good because I didn’t. Our VP of Operations, Mike, has been with The Digital Frontier for 25 years and is so great to work with, most of the team has between 3-20 years with the company. ('Lookin' at you, Rozy, John, Alan, Karl, and Eivor! Rounding out the team are the newest and equally terrific team members, Mady and Scott.) That makes this group as much like a family as a team gets and affords our clients access to their deep expertise. What is more, they are nice people. It’s a pleasure to work with all of them.
The former owner, Mark. Whenever I talk to anyone looking to buy a business about my experience and they ask me what they should be looking for, one of my top three things is a good relationship with the seller. (The other two are a good team and financial stability.) You might think that since the seller is ‘going away,’ it doesn’t really matter whether you like him or her. But when you buy a company, you 'get' a bit of that person along with the business. You buy a culture, a history, precedent, relationships – a tone set by the former owner. And sometimes – if you’re as lucky as I was – the seller doesn’t go away. His or her role might just change. He might, hypothetically of course, get to spend more time in Wisconsin with none of the ‘hassles’ or day-to-day stress of owning a business, but still maintain a direct relationship with the company.
The product. One of the nice things about printing is that it’s a branch of manufacturing, so there is a tangible product you can touch, feel, and evaluate for its quality. Unlike some other types of manufacturing, however, printing also has a creative and aesthetic component. Colors, materials, technique – they all go into the final product. The results are both functional and oftentimes beautiful and we get to partner with our clients to make them so.
The equipment. Mark named the company The Digital Frontier to represent being on the forefront of digital print and his commitment to exploration and adoption of advanced print technologies and techniques. He made sure the company always had the latest and greatest print equipment in-house and I intend to do the same. Our current machines allow us to print on any material, up to 10 feet wide. We can print using a 5th color, in metallics, with UV protection, and using varnishes which, in addition to enhancing the visual effect, add texture. We also have lamination, precision cutting, and binding machinery in-house, and all of our equipment has available capacity so that we are ready to scale with our clients, existing and new – which brings me to the final attribute I’ll mention here.
The potential. Believe it or not, future growth potential wasn’t in my top three desired traits for the business I would buy. (It came in a strong fourth.) But again, The Digital Frontier delivered. Now that I’m here and have ‘my arms around’ the company, I see so much opportunity – to modernize processes, increase our visibility on the print stage, add products, expand our team, and grow our business.
If you’ve made it this far, thanks for reading The Digital Frontier’s first ever blog post. Next time, I’ll pick up where we left off: What does one do with such an opportunity?
p.s. Way back in the beginning of what turned out to be a fairly long post, I said I would introduce you to both the company and me. If inclined, feel free to look me up on LinkedIn. If you do, let’s connect, and please follow The Digital Frontier.