The World Outside the Wall

On the heels of its most successful year in business, Westphal’s Group, Inc., in Brownsville, WI, continues to broaden its horizons, add to its expertise, and expand its overall mission.

The 25-year-old company’s blend of products and services—the firm provides a lot of cross-media managed marketing services, as well as an increasing number of web development and corporate branding capabilities—has proven rewarding.

In 2013, it enjoyed its biggest year ever, said Jeff Westphal, Founder and President, with annual sales up about 17 percent.

Westphal’s Group deals with a lot of businesses in the construction business, he noted, as well as the financial and trade industries. Interestingly, the company’s mix of client industries has not changed much over the past several years. “I think it’s been pretty consistent,” Westphal reflected. “They were always our big clients, but we’re penetrating deep into our existing client base to seek out more services that, in the past, they have turned to advertising agencies to handle for them.”

Westphal said he was ‘absolutely” in search of ways to broaden his product and service offerings. “We now have more marketing-services types of clientele than ever before; that’s more what we are. We still do a lot of offset and digital print; offset print is still the bulk of our business.”

The firm’s nine employees also handle wide-format printing, maintain an embroidery operation, and market promotional products. “We are doing a little bit more fulfillment than we used to do, also," Westphal reported.

Westphal said he likes to keep up with the latest in equipment technology. “We have got the same kind of press equipment, the same sort of digital equipment that a lot of our competitors probably have. We always stay on the leading edge of the equipment that’s out there," he added. Case in point: the increase of both photographic and video work has brought the need for, and purchase of, specialized equipment in each field, such as LED lighting. “We have done several photo shoots for some of our clients, some on-site video work. That kind of work is probably unique to our industry somewhat.”

Taken together, the changes Westphal has made over the years have transformed his business, in his opinion, “by far. When we founded the company we were just putting ink on paper. Then we started doing corporate apparel in the late 1990s. In the mid-2000s we started doing more web development, managed marketing type services, handling our clients advertising from billboards right down to printed advertising.”

 

Managed Marketing Services

One of the major initiatives throughout 2013 was the effort to get more heavily into managed marketing services. “We started doing that a few years ago,” Westphal recalled. “We began setting ourselves up as that, and doing more and more agency-type of work.” It was actually during the latter part of 2012 that some new clients came aboard on retainer agreements. “It’s consistent business month to month, and it’s helped solidify short-term relationships into long-term relationships. Instead of doing more transactional types of business we’re looking more for relationships with our clients.”

For the balance of 2014, Westphal and his team plan to continue to expand the creative side of their business. “We’ve got a very strong creative team, and so we want to continue to do more audio/visual web development and branding type work for our clients. Those are the areas I see rapidly expanding and ready to take off. If we’re going to add people that’s where we’re going to add them, let’s put it that way.”

Will the national economy cooperate? “So far, so good,” he said. “We started off well. We had a solid month in January; February looks to be the same. We look forward to a bright 2014.”

Good economy or bad, he added, the plan remains the same. “You get out of it what you put into it. We’ve got a unique product offering that, I think, a lot of our competitors don’t have. It’s what has allowed us to move forward.”

The company shows off its video capability on YouTube with a segment directed at prospective clients. “We’re in the business of giving our customers a voice,” Westphal explained in it, “something unique, like DNA, whether it be through print, digital, wearables—whatever was genuine and right for our client’s brand. We have more under one roof than most creative agencies, but what truly defines our work is our culture.”

Added graphic designer Alexander Ramsey, “It’s science and emotion: finding those inspiring elements that make the client different, and tapping into the emotional side.”

Growth will remain an integral part of the business plan. As the firm’s website proclaims, ‘Welcome to a world outside the wall.’

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