WOW Factor Media: All the right signs
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WOW Factor Media: All the right signs

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WOW Factor Media: All the right signs

From the time he was a kid selling soft drinks to classmates, Joel Pinel knew there was only one road for him. He had to run his own business.

But getting started wasn't easy. Pinel endured refusals, disappointments and failures before finally hitting on a business that would reward his drive and ambition. "I was turned down so many times," he says. "I learned you have to take "No" for an answer a million times and just keep going."

Advertising idea starts business

In 2009, Pinel and his sister were selling reusable bags in their hometown of Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan, when they came up with the idea of tabletop advertising for cafés and bars, a new concept in town at the time.

"Then a customer asked us to do a banner, and we started getting more requests for other print jobs," Pinel says. "That was the beginning of WOW Factor Media."

Today, WOW Factor Media is a printing and marketing company that produces everything from business cards to promotional wraps that go around entire buildings to branding strategies for businesses. It has 15 full-time and two part-time employees, and offices in Moose Jaw, Regina, Saskatoon and Edmonton, with customers across Western Canada.

Uses prize to open new market

Pinel, 28, reached a new summit in his business career when he won the 2013 BDC Young Entrepreneur Award contest. He will use the $100,000 Grand Prize to equip WOW Factor to get into what's known as the directional sign business—making signs that point people to elevators, cafeterias or conference rooms, for example.

The ability to create those signs will position WOW Factor to capitalize on a construction boom in Western Canada.

"There are 100 high-rise buildings going up in Western Canada, and every one of them will need directional signs. It's an exciting opportunity for us," says Pinel.

Invests in equipment to grow business

With the purchase of a computer numerical control (CNC) router and laser engraver, the company will be able to cut wood and plastic to produce directional signage and eliminate the need to outsource work.

Pinel's inspiration for becoming an entrepreneur came in part from family members who are in business and supported his ambitions. He says WOW Factor's first workplace was his mother's basement. "She provided a lot of hot meals in the early days," he says with a laugh.

Company is a family affair

As the business grew, more family members became involved, and now Pinel's wife, three sisters and brothers-in-law are all partners. "I'm proud that we are all making a living from the business. We get along really well. Who can you trust more than your own family?"

WOW Factor's big break came in 2011 when Mosaic Potash, which had the naming rights to the Moose Jaw arena, hired the company to create all the associated print material. "We worked night and day and we really nailed it," Pinel says. "That project gave us visibility and soon the print jobs began rolling in." Controlling growth is now Pinel's biggest challenge. "But we have to be careful about investing too much, too quickly," he says. It's a balancing act between growing the business and paying day-to-day expenses."

"My ultimate dream is to make WOW Factor Media a national print and media marketing company serving customers from coast to coast."

Lessons learned

  • Decide what you want to achieve, and then persevere. Be prepared to hear "No" and learn from your experiences.
  • Maintain a good reputation to build respect and goodwill that can result in community support, referrals and more business.
  • Be ready to seize new opportunities that are a good fit with your company's expertise and will take it to the next level.
  • As your business expands, carefully manage your re-investment for further growth.

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