Full Service Brand Building
Graphic Creations continues to expand its menu of services and capabilities
What began as a simple copy shop in the 1980s has morphed into a full-service printing and branding company. But the family behind the business is still at the helm, and the principles of friendly service and commitment to the community still drive the operation at Graphic Creations.
Started by Jim Caughorn and Debbie Billings in 1987, Graphic Creations primarily served students and professors at the University of Tennessee, copying supplemental class materials. Caughorn’s son Jim worked there while attending UT but moved away for a career in corporate America. Around 2009, family concerns called him back to Knoxville and he rejoined the force at Graphic Creations. In 2018 Caughorn bought out his remaining partner, Debbie, to become the sole owner of the company. Now, Graphic Creations is a third generation family business with Jim’s son Baylor joining three years ago.
For Caughorn, what started as a commitment to his family soon became a passion for printing. “To see the reaction of our customers when they see their brainchild come to life, whether it’s a new logo or something large-scale, like a vehicle wrap or a wall mural, is incredibly rewarding,” he says. Over the years, Graphic Creations’ services have expanded to include design and printing, promotional products and apparel, and social media management. “We don’t consider ourselves just a printing company anymore. We’re a full-service brand management company.
“Our clients can come to one place and know that their brand will be protected. And we can take care of their print, marketing, promotional and apparel needs. We are either going to do it or we’re going to facilitate it and manage it for our clients. It is like that expression we give our clients one throat to choke when it comes to making sure their brand is protected and represented the way they want it.”
The printing side of the business has evolved as well, with digital printing making quick turnaround and small orders possible. “If you have a trade show and just need 500 brochures or a few foam boards for display, you can order it today and get it tomorrow without getting into the heavy expense associated with large quantity ordering. And the quality of digital print versus traditional offset printing makes it harder and harder for clients to tell the difference.”
On the horizon is the company’s largest investment to date: what Caughorn calls a game changer in the print industry. “It’s an inkjet digital printing press that will be one of only two in East Tennessee,” he says. “It’s a $1.2 million investment, and it’s going to change the landscape for what we’re able to do and the services and quality we’re able to offer.”
Despite the changes to Graphic Creations—there were eight staff in 2009, now there are 30—Caughorn still sees it as a family company with a personal touch. “We don’t want to lose that ability to sit down with somebody and give them the feeling that they’re family. From a give back point of view, our growth has allowed us to invest back into our community through organizations like Boys & Girls Club of East Tennessee, Girl Scouts, Smoky Mountain Service Dogs, Legends of Tennessee, and several others. It is rewarding to give back to organizations that are mentoring and educating our youth to become our community’s future leaders and also help those who served our country.”