San Clemente residents Mike and Laura Reilly epitomize everything San Clemente Website Design loves about working with local businesses: They are committed to being the best in their field, love their customers, and have found happiness working and living in San Clemente.
For the Reillys, this is quite a change from where they were a few years earlier, when Mike was traveling all the time for his job as vice president of global operations for an electronics business, Laura was concentrating on raising their teenage son, and the couple was used to spending time apart. After years of setting up operations and production for companies all over the world, Mike retired in 2011, hoping to never see an airport lounge again.
Mike spent the first year of his retirement riding his bike, and reading book after book. He caught the entrepreneurial bug, however, when he attended a seminar on franchising. It was at this seminar that he took a personality test that matched him with a handful of business opportunities. One of these available opportunities was the sign business, and a chance for Laura and Mike to take the next step in their lives.
With all “signs” pointing toward starting their own business, the couple wasted no time receiving training on how to run a sign business. They learned all they could, bought equipment, and set up shop just three miles from their San Clemente home. Expanding on his business management and operations experience, Mike became the company’s president, in charge of all the production happening in the back end of the house. Laura, as CEO, manages the front of the house, including marketing, human resources, and purchasing.
Starfish Signs and Graphics opened their doors in June 2012, and immediately started to flourish, providing a variety of custom signage, including building signs, wall graphics, window graphics, trade show signage, and wraps for everything from cars to boats.
“We grew a bit faster than we had planned on, and there were a few growing pains in the beginning,” says Laura. “Within six months, we had to hire two full-time employees before we were really ready, and expand our 1600 sq. ft. shop to 3000 sq. ft.”
The whirlwind popularity of the store has been worth it, according to the couple, who saw a large sales increase in their second year of business. Laura credits their success to the couple’s business approach, which harkens back to the company’s name.
“In addition to being coastal, like San Clemente, a starfish has five points that represent the five key values we offer,” according to Laura. “These are customer service, giving back to the community, sustainability (the company uses water-based latex ink and recycled products), innovative products, and excellent quality.”
“We live and work in San Clemente so it’s important to us to help our community and our home,” continues Laura. But it is also important to provide the highest quality to our customers. They don’t receive their product until we, and they, are 100% happy with it.”
Though Laura and Mike were no strangers to running and managing a business, neither had a sales background when they started, and had to rapidly learn how to market themselves. They started getting the word out, before even opening their doors, by joining a lot of local and national organizations, including the San Clemente Chamber of Commerce, the Newport Rotary Club, and other networking associations.
Once they opened for business, Mike and Laura hired someone to create a website for them. However, they eventually realized that their site was not bringing them any traffic, and decided it was time to revamp it. Fortuitously, Deb, of San Clemente Website Design, paid the Reillys a visit to get a sign made, and a business connection was established.
The new Starfish Signs and Graphics went live in January, 2013, and immediately started attracting business. “We are really big into design and the website is just so aesthetically pleasing,” says Laura.
“Deb really caught the essence of what we wanted our website to be about,” she continues. “She took the time to get to know us and, because of that, you can look at our website and realize what’s important to us.”
The team at SCWD also took over management of social media for Starfish Signs and Graphics, increasing Facebook followers from 35 to 500 in just four months. Word is now getting out beyond San Clemente about Starfish Signs and Graphics, and Mike and Laura are landing jobs throughout the state of California.
“It’s so exciting to work with so many companies that are new, or expanding, or changing their logos,” says Laura. “Even though we are creating their sign, I always feel like it’s our sign too.”