November 4, 2004
Section: Business Page: 6B
Small Businesses: Designs on Demand
Claudia Beasley, News-Leader Staff

Local couple designs, makes promotional products
Claudia Beasley, News-Leader

Owners: Darrel and Margaret Scheperle

When business started: 1998

Location: The Scheperles operate an Internet business -- www.designsondemand.com -- from their home. Number of employees: The two owners do everything.

About the business: The Scheperles make promotional products and photo gifts for businesses or private consumers. Customers submit a photo via e-mail to be placed on a medium. Margaret Scheperle said their most popular options are yellow ribbon magnets with a photo of a soldier, dog tags with a photo and a personalized message, fabric patches and mugs. The Scheperles create a design using the client's image. Often, customers don't have design ideas when they approach the Scheperles and are happy for suggestions. Once approved by the customer, the product is created and shipped to the customer. The process of attaching the image to the merchandise is dye sublimation, said Margaret Scheperle. The result is a smooth, crisp image on the chosen surface. "The mugs are coated and completely smooth. There is nothing to feel and they are very detailed," she said. The attraction of this process to merchants or private customers is that they are clear, colorful and weatherproof. This process is used for logos by racers and extreme sport sponsors because of the durability.

Difference from competitors: The only competitors are screen printers or sign companies, said Margaret Scheperle. An attraction is that there is no minimum order -- they'll even do an order of one, Scheperle said. "And we are locally owned." How business started: Six years ago, Darrel Scheperle, an architect, decided he wanted a different career. Margaret Scheperle worked for Hallmark as a research analyst. By following the promotional and photo gift industry, Margaret Scheperle developed an understanding of how it worked and how much potential for growth there is. Eventually, she and her husband launched their own promotional business. Last April, Darrel Scheperle was able to become full time at the home-based business. He had continued to work as an architect and would brainstorm in the evenings. Margaret Scheperle has devoted the last six years to the day-to-day operations of their business. Roots of success: The Scheperles feel that the personal attention they can provide to each customer is key to their success.

Toughest part of business: "Handling the growth. Integrating the shopping cart, e-commerce, design and accounting are all up to us," said Margaret Scheperle.

Most rewarding: The unsolicited testimonials from emotional customers overwhelm both Scheperles.

Photo Caption:MargaretScheperle Copyright 2004 Springfield News-Leader -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Copyright (c) Springfield News-Leader. All rights reserved. Reproduced with the permission of Gannett Co., Inc. by NewsBank, inc.