Douglass Screen Printers, Inc. is a 74-year-old screen and digital printing company founded in Lakeland, Florida that’s venturing across the globe as it enters its third generation of family ownership. Lisa Kaiser Hickey, who joined the team in the 1980s as her father become the business’ second CEO, worked on the business’ growth for over a decade before negotiating full ownership of the company. Because Lisa recognized the importance of having the right team to maintain growth, she mentored and groomed her daughter Lane Kathryn Hickey-Wiggins to become the new CEO in 2013. Lane will continue to grow the company and supports its 43 employees.
As Lisa remains with the company as the chairman of the board, her vision includes preparing Douglass for an increase in its international sales division. Lisa started working with the Small Business Development Center in 2010 to gain certifications in international trade through the SBDC’s ITCP program. Now roughly 5 percent of its sales are international orders. In 2012 the company received an export marketing plan from the SBDC as part of the Enterprise Florida State Trade and Export Promotion (STEP) Grant funded by the U.S. Small Business Administration. From this plan, the business will pursue growth strategies in Panama and Chile in order to increase its client base and services.
“Despite our self-made success, I wish we knew about the SBDC long ago,” Lisa said.
One of the on-going challenges Lisa faced as a business owner was with competitive bid contracts. Douglass’ most highly visible and challenging contract was a decal fulfillment contract with NASA for the Space Shuttle Program. Twenty-five years ago, this contract tested their ability to fulfill orders on intense deadlines. They still hold this contract to this day, now for non-shuttle missions. In order to increase the business’ competitiveness, Douglass Screen Printers turned to the SBDC for assistance in gaining additional certifications that would help them win bids on projects in the public and private sectors. The SBDC conducted their certification review on behalf of the National Women Business Owners Corporation (NWBOC) and supported Lisa’s speaking engagements with the organization. Now Douglass’ private sector clients account for 65 percent of its sales. Even though competition has become fierce and very price-driven, private sector clients provide Douglass with 60 percent repeat transactions. These relationships have been crucial to the business’ bottom line in the last few years, supporting Douglass’ growth during these difficult economic times.
Lisa shares with other business owners that it is important they recognize that 90 percent of running a business and reaching success is about things they may not necessarily know. Therefore, it is important to reach out to resources so that their business is not about hard work but about right work.
- 2002 Certified Woman-Owned Business
- 2004 Women’s Business Enterprise National Council certified
- 2009 State of Florida Department of Management Services’ Office of Supplier Diversity Woman-Owned certified
- 2011 U.S. Small Business Administration Small Business Enterprise 8(m) Women-Owned Small Business
- Sustainable Green Printing certified
Douglass Screen Printers
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