There’s a buzz in the air at Stribling Packaging Inc., and it’s not just from the printers and die cutters churning out product displays.
After 23 years doing business in Rogers with thousands of local and national suppliers, the newly re-named Stribling Group has a juicy story to tell.
Following three months of planning, a secret alluded to on billboards across Benton County and closely guarded from competitors and contractors will be revealed on July 31 when the Stribling Group introduces its newest division.
Juiced Creative represents a direct challenge to the nearly 40 firms in Northwest Arkansas serving the marketing and packaging needs of local businesses, Wal-Mart Stores Inc. and its hundreds of suppliers.
It will be the branding brains of the Stribling Group backed by the manufacturing muscle of an industry leader with $20 million in annual revenue.
President Bill Stribling Jr. said company revenue is projected to reach $25 million to $30 million in fiscal 2008 between the growth of Stribling Packaging and new revenue from Juiced Creative.
“With so many agencies in the area, we were perceived as a manufacturer and not a creative group,” Stribling said. “But we felt we had the most talented people in the region and we wanted to let folks know we can do it from beginning to end.”
The advertising market can be a lucrative one, as indicated by an Arkansas Business list in which 12 of the 19 statewide firms surveyed reported $229.6 million in capitalized billings during 2006.
Juiced has 13 employees: a marketing director, five designers and seven sales people. Stribling said he’ll soon hire two project managers and two more designers, one structural and one graphic.
The agency aims to set a new standard in a market where some companies design and others manufacture but none truly do both.
“We are the source for everything you need,” said creative director Andrew Bojig, a six-year veteran of Stribling who helped formulate the concept along with fellow designers Andy White, Rob Hanlon and Mike Lloyd.
“There’s not another person in town that does what we’re about to be able to do. We believe that ultimately, we’re the only agency that makes sense in town.”
Juiced Creative opens for business July 31 and within six months will move into a new 5,000-SF building on the Stribling campus that will connect to the factory floor, allowing clients to be involved in the process from the first press check to the truck leaving the loading dock.
“We have the capability to take a product from conception and run with it and create an entire marketing campaign around that,” Hanlon said. “We can take existing product and existing marketing plan and adapt to whatever you need for the retail market.”
The building will have an expanded showroom with, appropriately, a juice bar where designers and clients can connect. There will be a full-scale photo studio and a “brainstorming room” where designers will be able to write on the chalkboard walls.
White has been with Stribling for two years but often felt the constraints of structural design. Those inhibitions turned to inspiration in May when Stribling green-lit the agency.
“It’s been incredibly exciting to go from an average, good display plant to what it is going to be,” White said. “The reason I use the word ‘average’ is because I think once you compare it to what it will be, it will be great.”
Because Stribling has been focused since its founding on having the best structural designs in the industry, the designers at Juiced Creative have an extra appreciation for what works.
Knowing machine tolerances and technical specifications will shape the concept from its origin, not become a problem once execution is under way.
Marketing experience is also key.
Hanlon and White worked with the newest designer, Gabe Gray, at Pitsco in Pittsburg, Kan., where they helped market its classroom educational materials to school districts across the country.
All three are Missouri Southern graphic design graduates and when combined with Stribling veterans Bojig and Mike Lloyd make up a free-wheeling team that freely critiques each other’s work.
Lloyd has been in the corrugated industry longer than some of his co-workers have been alive.
He has been at Stribling for four years and working in the field since 1980. With the rest of the team ranging in age between 24 and 30, it could be easy for him to feel out of place at Juiced Creative. Not so.
In fact, the suddenly young-at-heart Lloyd said one of the advantages of their dynamic is that, “we’re all about the same age.”
When Stribling gave approval to hire more staff, White knew he would call Gray, who by then was honing his marketing skills for BassPro in Springfield, Mo.
“It’s been a great experience so far,” Gray said, “and it’s only going to get better.”
Wal-Mart’s push for sustainability from its suppliers has not gone unnoticed at Stribling, which uses 60 percent recycled materials and prides itself on reducing materials and fuel costs.
According to Stribling’s estimates, the company’s eco-friendly displays have annual savings of 500 tons of paper, 1.1 million display pieces, 240,000 gallons of oil, 3.7 million gallons of water and more than 2.1 million kilowatts of electricity.
Not only are Stribling’s core materials inherently sustainable, the company business model is as well with design, manufacture, fulfillment and distribution under one roof.
“What’s more sustainable than that?” said marketing director Shannon Brooks.
Rob Hanlon wanted to cry.
He’d only been at Stribling for a couple months when the word came down that the company was looking for a new way to market itself.
Not only that, they were going to outsource the job.
Hanlon and White couldn’t believe it.
“‘This is what we do,'” White said he told Bojig, who went to management and asked for a month to come up with their own proposal.
Stribling agreed, and the team went to work after hours and on weekends coming up with the Juiced Creative plan.
The name is a derivative of a number of ideas ranging from clever (“creative juices”) to cheesy (“we have appeal”), all naturally borne out of a collective effort that kept coming back to the signature fruit.
“We have fresh ideas,” Hanlon said. “And we’re sweet, too.”
Bojig summed it up with an allusion to the well known “not from concentrate” label.
“We’re 100 percent juiced, contains no middlemen,” he said.
The plug on mascot O-Jay’s head comes from juice as a synonym for electricity.
“It’s proof not only of their creativity, but of their work ethic,” Brooks said. “They are determined to get it right.”
The team did the market research, came up with the logo and branding, scripted the promotional campaign of the billboards placed strategically around Benton County and summed it up in a 90-minute presentation.
They received a standing ovation from their audience of Stribling, director of sales Mike Taylor and general manager Jack Dunn.
“It absolutely wowed me,” Stribling said.
Then it was Bojig who wanted to cry.
“That brought tears to my eyes,” Bojig said. “It could have gone either way. We didn’t know if they’d get it.”
Not only did they get it, they wanted to move full speed ahead.
When they suggested three billboards, Stribling said get four.
When they said they needed a separate building, Stribling said he’d get them a space anywhere in town.
When they said they needed to be on campus, Stribling said he’d construct them an office.
In short, no expense has been spared.
“They’ve let us go on it and do it in a quality way,” Brooks said. “It’s been a real vote of confidence for us. They really believe in us and what we can do as an agency.
“It’s like giving an artist a blank canvas.”