A few years ago, Chandler Equipment Inc. CEO Chris Chandler had a problem any businessman would envy — overseeing two growing companies, with not enough time for both.
In 2009, Springdale-based CEI — which centers most of its business on oil and natural gas drilling and movement accessories — began doing in-house print and advertising work for many of its customers.
By July 2011, Chandler bulked up that creative wing of the company with some additional printing equipment and manpower, and it began operating under the name Moxy Ox.
One year later, the continued growth of both CEI — which surged in revenues from $5 million to $25 million from 2005 to 2011 — and Moxy Ox brought Chandler to a decision.
“I had to pick one of the two businesses because Chandler was growing at the same time as Moxy Ox and we were busting at the seams,” he recalled. “The potential growth [for Moxy Ox] was beyond what I could handle, so we decided to sell it off and find someone to take it to the next level and do it the right justice.”
And next level is just what’s happening. A new ownership group entered the picture in November 2012, and Moxy Ox today is an entirely different animal.
“We’re a branding agency that happens to do great print,” CEO Randy Hurban explained.
Hurban, Steve McBee and Joe Payne, through an entity called Moxy Ox LLC, partnered to buy Moxy Ox from Chandler for an undisclosed price.
McBee is the owner of Fayetteville-based Creative Awards Inc., Hurban was previously a business development executive for a biopharmaceutical company. Payne was a co-founder of Moxy Ox.
The company has developed into a full-fledged brand agency, offering an integrated approach to brand development that includes creative, digital, communications and print services.
Moxy Ox owns one of the only HP Indigo 5500 printers in Northwest Arkansas, allowing the company to fulfill all of its production in-house and bring unique products into the market.
Indigo is at the forefront of digital printing. In fact, according to HP officials, Indigo has a 75 percent world market share for digital commercial photo printing.
“Basically, most of the world knows about it, and we’re bringing it to Northwest Arkansas,” said Katy Cario, Moxy Ox’s director of print operations.
But print work is just a portion of the pie, and only accounts for about 60 percent of the company’s work.
“You start doing one thing, and that’s what you get known for,” said Payne, Moxy Ox’s chief creative officer and a guiding principal of the company from the Chandler days. “Obviously we’re really proud of putting out what I maintain is the best [print product] in the business. But it’s one piece of what we’re doing.”
The new owners moved into a 4,600-SF building in Tontitown in the first quarter of 2013 and the company has grown from 5 to 14 full-time employees.
Revenue growth has also accelerated, with Moxy Ox growing 300 percent in the last year, according to Hurban, and the retention rate among its client roster of 400 is about 95 percent.
With a sizable investment used to ramp up the firm, attaining a sustainable growth is now what the principals are looking for.
“With the agency model that we have now, what we’re looking for is the retainer-type, long-term relationship model where we can add value across the spectrum of services we offer to our clients,” Hurban said.
Moxy Ox clients are across the country — it produces business cards and other collateral for New York-based video-sharing website Vimeo — and in Canada.
Closer to home, the list includes James+James of Springdale, Specialized Real Estate Group of Fayetteville and the Walton Arts Center of Fayetteville.
Terry Delany, owner of Fayeteville-based facility maintenance company ServFM (a company previously known as Groundserv until earlier this year), needed a boost for his business a year ago when sales began to dip.
“The main reason was we were transitioning from using [our own] employees to subcontractors, and in that process we forgot to do any selling,” he joked.
Hurban, a friend, reached out and offered to help, and Delany was introduced to the minds of Moxy Ox.
“I went over there thinking I was getting new business cards,” he said. “I came out an hour and a half later with a new strategy for running my business. And over the last year they’ve done that with other companies and are figuring it out — they’re much more than a print company, more than a marketing company. They help people develop a brand, a business strategy and how to grow your business.”
Delany said business has picked up rapidly in the last year. “We’re at $2 million in sales right now and right around 100 clients,” he said.
Hurban expects his business to pick up, too, anticipating 20 employees could be working for Moxy Ox by the end of the year.
He said a diverse mix of skill sets is enhancing the growth.
“We’ve got baby boomers like myself and McBee working with millennials, and the combination of such is critically important to our success,” he said. “We’ll be hiring some more people, and we’ll continue to adjust our service model to help our customers. I really believe sales and marketing is going to be a big piece of that moving forward.”