I consider myself a pretty decent technical artist and animator. And, after 38 years in the biz, a damn good layout artist. It would be great if these skills alone translate into full-time work. True, there are referrals and long-time loyal clients, but occasionally, I have to utilize one of my, shall I say, lesser talents…sales.
I’ve been reflecting on a unique client relationship that started with a sales call. Back in 1986, I called on a local plastics manufacturer just up the road from my original business location in Sausalito, California. The company, once called Ways and Means, Inc., started in San Rafael in 1959, the name reflecting the new plastics industry’s “can-do” attitude. By the time I met them, they had become Labcon, North America, as they concentrated on making disposable plastic products for the medical laboratory market, like pipet tips and centrifuge tubes.
I had no idea when I walked into the front offices of that factory and met their VP at that time, that I was beginning a relationship that would last over 30 years. This was just after I bought my first MacPlus, and was trying to figure out how I would add the computer to my toolbox. At the time I was still a master of technical pens (Rapidograph, anyone?), so I was tasked with creating pen drawings of some of their products for use in sales materials. They turned out great, and I used my Mac and PageMaker to take them to print. My digital transition had begun. Hello Illustrator, goodbye ink pens. In 1988, we created our first catalog together, using my illustrations throughout. I forget now, but I think it was only 16 pages. A year later, I moved to the Pacific Northwest. That could have ended the relationship, but I connected well with their new director of global marketing and sales, Tom Moulton, and we found in the digital age our distance was no barrier. And I may have created an advantage for myself by not having to charge “Bay Area” rates for my work.
During the following 30 years, I have created over 20 catalogs for them, the newest one we finished this fall is 128 pages. In addition to their own product lines, Labcon is an OEM manufacturer for VWR International, and I’ve created about the same amount of catalogs for VWR, in English, German and French. And since 2011, I’ve been creating animated videos, often merging live video with my 3D models and animation. It’s some of the most enjoyable work I do. And it feels good to work with a good corporate citizen as Labcon is the world’s leading manufacturer of Earth Friendly® laboratory disposables. Long before being “green” was popular, Labcon understood the meaning of sustainable solutions. Their goal is to help their customers, community and the planet thrive.
As an independent contractor, one takes each project with gratitude, and a hope that it’s not your last. Though there are no guarantees in life. As my restaurateur father always said, “You are only as good as the last meal you served.” But for these 30+ years, Tom keeps me working and creative. And Kim, marketing goddess, is there to answer my questions and provide direction, even when Tom is traveling for sometimes a month or more, taking care of international customers.
So, I close this year with appreciation that a relationship like this carries on. I’ve had numerous clients over the years that I’ve worked with for over a decade, and even become friends with, but nothing close to the unique relationship of 32 years I’ve shared with Labcon. To Tom and Kim and all the people at Labcon, I toast you! On to 2019!Share this: