February 1998. We were just four sweaty guys in a small office next to a Domino’s. We shared a “community” computer and ate a lot of pizza. Our first piece of marketing collateral was a photo of the four of us hanging off of the second story banister. On the back of the photo, we printed a “5% off of first order” coupon and suggested customers to “HANG with us for all of their promotional product needs”. That stunt garnered some buzz but netted only a couple of orders.
In that cramped space, we listened to a boom box filled with Ramones, Elvis, CCR, and Link Wray. We all answered phones and took handwritten messages on pink “While You Were Out” pads. We got excited when we placed an animated .gif on our website.
Our “Fulfillment Center” was in a cramped A-frame attic and we delivered orders from our first online store in person because we were too cheap to set up a UPS account. We pulled seventy-hour work weeks and rarely took vacations. We were then, as we are now, very committed.
As business increased, we found ourselves moving five times in the first seven years to accommodate growth. And then we expanded into Virginia, one of our most challenging and rewarding decisions yet.
It seems as if our baby is “all growed up” when we look back at what was, but we fully recognize that we have a tremendous opportunity to be so much more. And that is what still excites us. That and the fact that we have never lost our desire to enjoy and to nurture the foundation of Brand Fuel.
The pledge we made on Day One, to make our 30+ years of friendship the basis for our shared career vision has not wavered. Yes, we are prideful about beating the partnership odds, our trophy case of national industry awards, our very talented staff, and about the difference we have made in giving back to the communities in which we serve.
Almost two decades later, we are still branding our clients’ logos on “stuff” and Elvis still plays in our offices. We have a lot of people to thank including our families, our talented employees and of course, you. We very much realize our success is possible in large part because of your support.
Thank you, thank you very much!