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PrintKEG, Beaufort, SC

June 1, 2010
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WHILE WE'RE on the subject of names, here's an interesting twist on why a printing business felt compelled to change its moniker. It wasn't because the company was named for an outdated or no longer relevant technology. And it wasn't because the company wanted to stretch its marketing services provider wings and fly. The reason: It wasn't who "we" were.

Chris Mullen and Tony Devlin started down the road of Web development, and began their business by leasing the back office of a print shop called IDM Print, which specialized in blueprint plans. IDM actually provided Mullen and Devlin with a lot of business so, after a year—and despite having little knowledge about printing—they bought the company.

After a couple of years of generating $15,000 a month in business, it was time to make some changes. The company redirected its energies to becoming an online printer and began to phase out the blueprint aspect. Online sales bumped up to $50,000 a month, and the enterprise now generates $1 million in annual sales—not bad for a bunch of computer programmers with no real previous printing expertise.

As for the name, it had to go. "It felt like we were trying to be something that we weren't," Mullen explains. "We were trying to be ultra-professional (as IDM Print). So, when we started the online shop, we wanted more of our personality to shine through."

In the process, the Web developers came up with a mascot to match the name change to PrintKEG. He's a snazzy little fellow with a button-up shirt and open collar, pants and a pair of sleek shades. And, despite his name and obvious shape, Mr. Keg prefers to tote a martini glass, which suits him well.

"Mr. Keg represents a fun factor that more identifies with us," Mullen adds. "He might not be the most professional mascot, but customers respond well to him. He definitely separates us from the rest."

PrintKEG may not be ready to tangle with the VistaPrints of the world, but check out the overhead and sales per employee—there are five full-time workers in a 2,000-square-foot facility. It churns out general commercial products such as brochures, posters, flyers, stationery, table tents, business cards and postcards in the business-to-consumer (B2C) space. Many customers fall under the headings of designers, artists and musicians, and the printer has begun to target churches and schools.

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