1978 was a great year for business and pop culture. Home Depot was founded, Ben & Jerry’s opened their first ice cream parlor, and movies and television shows such as Grease, Saturday Night Fever (along with the Bee Gee’s smash hit “Stayin Alive”), Animal House, “Laverne & Shirley,” “Three’s Company,” and “Mork & Mindy” reached the height of popularity.
Looks like Budd Lake’s Graphic Image Inc., a woman-owned company that is celebrating its 40-year anniversary, is in good company.
“I am proud to be a woman-owned business since 1978, when we were very few in number and almost non-existent in the print production industry. I attended Rutgers College in New Brunswick and was admitted in only the second female graduating class, so I guess I am used to being a pioneering female,” says Graphic Image Inc. owner Claudia Ehrgott.
In 2017 Graphic Image Inc. was certified with a Woman-Owned Business Certification.
Ehrgott initially wanted to get into publishing and graduated with a BA in Mass Communications. As a student at Rutgers, she was introduced to typesetting and layout when she worked at the school’s Daily Targum newspaper. She took some graphic design and photography classes and in senior year, she began working for a marketing agency in East Brunswick. Her boss then encouraged her to open up her own business when she got married and moved to Mt. Olive in 1977.
Ehrgott founded Graphic Image Inc. in November 1978 under the name GraphicType Inc. and provided typesetting and layout services for advertising agencies and printers. She used the Quadritek 1200 phototypesetter, paste up table, typesetting and mechanicals service for trade-only clients.
Back then the business was stationed in her home office and her husband Glenn worked with her briefly from 1981 to 1988 before returning to the family power equipment business. They eventually moved to their current location in Budd Lake in 1985/1986.
“We have adapted to changes in technology and strived to focus on excellent customer service by staying small and client-focused,” she says.
Changes in technology ultimately led to the company’s eventual name change in 1990. Such changes included Agfa imagesetter connected to Apple (Mac) desktop computers for page-layout direct to film capability and Ricoh networked color laser printer/copier.
More changes planned for the near future are updating their website, which was first launched back in 2003, and increasing their social media presence as well as increasing consulting on special projects.
Ehrgott believes that her longtime success is attributed to a combination of providing the services and the quality clients are looking for and doing so in a timely manner with competitive pricing. Her main clientele is mainly located within a 45-mile point of Mt. Olive, stretching east to New York City, and south to Somerset County and includes corporate, medium sized and small businesses as well as ad agencies and graphic designers. However, they are also able to ship internationally and coordinate with out-of-state vendors to produce material closer to the final destination.
“What makes us unique is that we are owner-operated and provide personal attention to every project, large and small,” says Ehrgott, “A smaller, hard-working, professional staff ensures continuity and knowing who a client is and what they do when they call. While our services are broad, we try to bring our experience and intelligent approach to all of them. While we handle the gamut of business card, brochures, banners, etc. Our specialty is creating unique solutions to challenges that are not always cookie-cutter projects.”
“When you have a requirement, just turn it over to us and we will take it from there to complete it to your satisfaction,” explains Ehrgott, “Clients sometimes know they want to do something different and may have a general idea so we help them accomplish their goals by researching and creating unique finished products. These can be a combination of print, wearable or promotional items and displays. Applications can be corporate, trade show or retail centered. Occasions such as product launches, sales meetings or incentive contests and training programs are all areas where we have assisted. We can also handle packaging and fulfillment in cases where the products must be shipped to various locations.”
“Consider it done.” That is Graphic Image Inc.’s motto, after all. According to a video on the company’s website, they take pride in helping their clients’ brand images with “creative, effective solutions” and “fast, accurate production,” and therefore forming a relationship with their clients’ brands.
“There are so many great memories from the past 40 years, it is hard to choose one,” says Ehrgott, “I am proud to have been on the ground-floor of expanding the marketing and educational endeavors of the National Kitchen and Bath Association in Hackettstown in the 1980s to 1990s. Working on trade show coordination and with authors, industry professionals, and administration on marketing and educational materials was an amazing growth experience.”