By Kevin J. Sabo
For the Independent
The results are in, and the winner of the Stettler Board of Trade 2020 Business Service Award is Stettler’s own Ember Graphics.
Ember Graphics was started in Alix by the current owner’s uncle Ron McIntosh, before moving the business to Main Street Stettler five years ago.
Ron retired from the business in July 2019; however, the business was kept in the family with the current owner, Dennis McIntosh, purchasing the business from his uncle.
Over the years, Ember Graphics has grown to become a ‘one-stop shop for a lot of business.’
In addition to their sign work, they also do graphic design, printing, and laser engraving in-house.
“We try to be a one-stop shop for a lot of businesses,” said Dennis, “So they don’t have to run all over the place. They know we make everything in-house, so they don’t have to wait weeks on end (for their orders).”
The last year has presented unique challenges to all businesses in the community, and Ember Graphics is no exception. While they are still focusing on customer service, some of the priority has shifted to protecting staff and customers.
“We try to eliminate some of the unnecessary foot traffic of people coming in,” said Dennis. “We try to do the majority of our business through email and phone calls. We send the proofs back and forth online.”
One challenge that Ember Graphics has had to face this year due to the ongoing pandemic is a decrease in business, resulting in cutbacks and the temporary loss of some staff.
“We are running with a bit of a skeleton crew at the moment,” he explained. “We’ve had to (make) some serious cutbacks, but we’re managing.”
Still, Dennis prides himself on the customer service that he and his team provide.
“I want (the customer) to have a good experience,” he said. “We try to make it as easy for the customers when they come in as we can. I’ve seen so many times when they’ve gotten something (online) and when it comes, it’s not what they wanted, it’s not right.”
To make sure that doesn’t happen with his clients, Dennis and his team communicate closely with the clients, getting the information they need to get started on the artwork, and then they send the client a proof back.
In some cases, where the designers can see that something is not going to work quite right or look right when completed, Dennis or his team will have another conversation with the client.
“Instead of just printing it or doing it, we’ll actually stop things.
“I’ll contact the customer and show them how things are going to work, and suggest what we should do to make it work for them. We just try to make things as easy as possible. (The customers) give me the bare basics of what they want, and we just take it from there.”
Looking forward to 2021 and beyond, Dennis wants to keep the same level of service he’s been able to provide to the community of Stettler, and grow the business back to its pre-COVID-19 state.
“I’d like to see things kind of the way they were going. Obviously, I’d like to see us back to where we were before COVID levels so I can bring my staff back and everyone can get their livelihoods back on track,” he explained.
In the meantime, it’s really boils down to that solid sense of top customer service.
“I just want to see my customers happy as well as to see new ones coming in the door.”