FACEBOOK: Blue Dawg Promotions
OWNER: Steve George
YEARS IN BUSINESS: 27
WHAT HE SELLS: Promotional product marketing
WHY YOU SHOULD GO: With 27 years of experience, Steve can help you maximize your marketing dollar by sourcing quality products from reliable vendors.
A pen bearing a business’s name and address; we’ve all seen that before. But imprinting such information on a walnut? Or a chocolate medallion? Or a head massager, an M&M, a tree seedling, or a tool? Blue Dawg Promotions has put imprints on such items and hundreds more. If you want to spread the word about your business, club, team, nonprofit, or anything else, Steve George will do the research and find just the right fun or functional product that will get the job done.
Why did you decide to start your own business? In 1983 I was working as the head coach for the Corvallis Aquatic Team. A family friend in Eastern Oregon was in the “advertising specialties” industry and asked me to work for him in the Corvallis area. Working for someone else became difficult to combine with the coaching so, to gain more flexibility in my schedule, I realized I needed to open my own business, and I started Innovative Business Promotions in 1985. In 2006, I sold the graphic design/screen printing/sign portion of IBP to Katy Krupp (Element Graphics) so I could focus on promotional products, renaming the business after our dog, Blue Dawg.
Tell us more about your business. What are your specialties? First I try to source USA made items. These usually cost a little more, so for price sensitive customers I look for suppliers that do their imprinting in the US. Unfortunately, there are very few suppliers in Oregon to buy from. About 60% of my customers are associated with OSU, including the College of Business, Engineering, and Agriculture. The rest are local businesses. People order everything from pens to flash drives to tote bags.
Why should folks patronize Blue Dawg Promotions? With over 25 years of experience, I have learned that quality is more important than price. I have figured out which suppliers do a quality job so I can guarantee my customers’ satisfaction.
What challenges have you faced as an independent business owner? The internet has changed the industry for better and worse. Being an online company allows me to work anywhere I can take my computer. This was a great benefit when we traveled to China to adopt our daughter. But it also means that I now have to compete with companies that are not just using Chinese-made products but are doing the imprinting in China and selling directly to customers over the internet.
What do you feel is the impact of local independent businesses on Corvallis? We are lucky to have such a vibrant and healthy downtown filled with local businesses. It makes a huge impact, and not just financially, to have so many different options.
What do you know now that you wish you’d known when you started your business? Back then I did not realize the importance of buying locally. It took me some time to learn that the bottom line price is not the most important thing in the world. There is a great value in having the diverse economy [that local businesses provide].
What charities, non-profits or civic organizations do you support? Besides being on the Board of CIBA, we put most of our effort in support of Garfield Elementary School, where our children are enrolled.
How important is sustainability to your business? This is very important to me. Suppliers used to send me catalog after catalog and they really piled up. Now I tell my vendors “no catalogs!” and I research products on vendors’ websites. And instead of me sending a catalog to my clients, I can put everything they might want to look at on a flash drive. They work great! I also focus on recycled and recyclable items. The more people ask for recycled products, the more likely manufacturers are to offer them, so we all benefit.
(Interview and article by Kate Lindburg – December 9, 2012)
The Local Business of the Week program is designed to help the Corvallis community identify our locally owned independent businesses by featuring one business each week. The program is part of the Buy Local First campaign co-sponsored by the Corvallis Sustainability Coalition and the Community Independent Business Alliance (CIBA).