Chris moved Kick Ass Media, his printing and promotions business, from Toronto to The County in 2010. Last year, he and his staff of 10 moved into 5,000 sq ft of space to accommodate their success.
They say young people have to leave home to make it in the world. But sometimes they come back – and make it even bigger. Entrepreneur Chris Crawford came home to The County and revitalized his aptly named Kick Ass Media Productions – which surprised him as much as anybody else. We talked to Chris about that:
“My company does printing and creates displays for marketing campaigns and experiential events all over Canada and the U.S. We attract clients through online, marketing firms, charities and corporate clients like Walt Disney Studios – but it’s crucial to control our costs, and commercial space here costs me a fraction vs in the city.
If you can run a business here with low overhead yet have clients all over the world, that’s a winning combination.”I’ve got 10 staff here in The County and on a typical day they might be talking to prospective clients, designing branded displays for, oh let’s say a big new cellphone launch – some of us will be printing materials right here onsite. We could be trimming them out, getting them ready to ship out the door. It could be backdrops, tents, flags, you name it. If clients have their own design people we prep files and produce the finished display materials – if they need help we’ve got a kick-ass design team, too.
It’s interesting that I’m here in The County. I’m a native of Prince Edward County but I left to live in Toronto. I was there 10 years. I started this business there. But I hit a rough patch and came home to regroup, rethink and decide where to go from here. I honestly didn’t think I’d fall in love with the place all over again! I’ve owned a property here for 20 years. I thought of it as a great vacation spot, but never foresaw moving back. Having restarted my business here, and now that it’s growing fast, I seriously can’t imagine living anywhere else.
It’s great having our base here. Clients see us as based in Toronto but we’re out here in the country. We step outside and we’ve got grass and beaches and wineries and all those good things.
We are connected on a GLOBAL scale but we’re living a rural lifestyle with all the benefits. I have to say the most crucial thing was to have good Internet connection because we upload and download massive files. In our small town of Bloomfield, we’re fortunate to have fibre optic connection with speeds over 200 MB. It’s key to our industry. They don’t have that in more remote parts of The County but we have it here.
I’m an entrepreneur at heart – have been since I was 10 and collecting pop bottles. I always looked at opportunities, and to be honest I stumbled into this one and I’m good at it. I love the products and the customers, but for me success is about building something people want to be part of. Making opportunities for people to develop and grow and achieve things for themselves. That’s what drives me. It could be printing or a whole other industry, my focus would always be creating that team and that culture.
We grew so quickly we had to move to new space. I was amazed to find this huge space in in the little village of Bloomfield. It let us create exactly the environment we want and need. It meets our demands and it also really impresses people. They walk in not knowing what to expect – and they’re knocked out and say it has the vibe of a very cool loft in the middle of the city.
We have a location in Roncesvalles in Toronto, but it’s not manned. We partner with another company so our customers can pick up and drop off there – but we use couriers most of the time. We can ship to anywhere from right here in Bloomfield. The evolution of technology in the workplace has been a huge game changer.
It’s great for the team to be able to head down to Sandbanks and the Outlet beach. They’re pretty happy about that.
Just the feeling of leaving the office and stepping into nature.
It’s hard to hold onto stress when you’re driving down a country road.”
For startups or businesses looking to expand or re-locate to The County, you can fill out this Business Inquiry Questionnaire, and the Community Development Department will respond in 48 hours.