Steve Jedele’s graphics business has come a long way from its roots in his parents’ garage.
SCS Image Group, once known to many Salinians as Steve’s Custom Signs, continues to grow.
In May, to help foster that growth, Jedele took on a business partner.
Jedele wanted to continue growing the full-service graphics company that provides printing, vehicle wraps, signs, apparel and much more. But with day-to-day-operations, he didn't have the time to devote to growing the business. So he looked at acquiring other companies.
Then Brian Vella entered the equation.
Brian Vella, from Grand Rapids, served six years in the US Marine Corps, deployed in places like Fallujah When he returned to the US, he found work in the steel industry. He started in production and moved to sales, quickly rising to director of sales for Mill Steel Company. But Vella wanted a change.
"I always wanted to do my own thing and I saw an opportunity and was fortunate enough to be in a position to do it," Vella said. "I like the opportunities in this industry. Anyone and everyone is a potential customer. Everyone uses what we offer, whether it's a family planning a reunion or a Fortune 500 company."
Vella was also looking at getting into the marketing business.
Both Jedele and Vella targeted the same company - Troy-based Strategic Brand Solutions.
"My broker put together this idea. 'Hey, why don't you all come together,'" Jedele said.
So Vella bought a stake in SCS Image Group in May. And then SCS Image group bought Strategic Brand Solutions - picking up their customers and their founder, Jason Kunrek - who joins the SCS Image Group team.
"We both have a vision for growing the company, adding employees, expanding in a new location," Jedele said. “We share a lot of the same values.”
The company is already growing. For example, since May, the company has grown from 25 to 33. In 2016, there were just 14 people on staff. Some of the staff aren't even located in their headquarters off Platt Road in Pittsfield Township. One sales employee works out of Kentucky. Vella has been using his contacts in the steel industry to broaden SCS Image Group's customer base.
SCS Image Group has already hopped over the parking lot to a second building and, still, Jedele feels the crunch. As the company nears its 20th anniversary, they know they're going to need a new space. It could come in two months or 24 months, but it’s coming. It's an important decision.
"We don't want to move to a new space that's not big enough with six months," he said.
Jedele expects that new building will be in Washtenaw County - close to where it all started for him in Saline. There could be satellite offices for sales operations - but production will be local.
It's a transition for Jedele. After all, this is a company he built from the ground up. He founded the company - then known as Steve's Custom Signs - in the garage at his parents' house while he was in college. The hometown kid from Saline produce decals for the Saline Area Fire Department and grew from there.
A few years ago, he hired Rob White, the former Saline High School Athletics Director. White used his connections in the high school athletics world to help the business develop relationships throughout the state. As a result, lots of schools have the kinds of photo collages you see on the walls at Saline High School and in Hornet Stadium.
In recent years, Jedele changed the name of the business from Steve's Custom Signs to SCS Image Group - a name that more accurately reflects the company's full-service approach.