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Patience pays off.

Good things come to those who wait. This adage is certainly true for Claude L. Gum, co-owner of Sonship Graphics Inc., a pre-press and printing facility in Lynchburg, Va. When Gunn became frustrated with corporate America in April 1990, he quit his $49,000-a-year job as a photo prep technician to start his own firm.

"When I started my company, I thought it was going to be a piece of cake," says Gunn, Sonship's 40-year-old president. But after being turned down by 15 banks, he mortgaged his $150,000 house and used $27,000 in 401(k) savings as start-up capital.

His next step: spreading the word about Sonship's capabilities by advertising in several national trade publications. Gunn also brought on as partner, Elmer Reid, a printing industry veteran. Reid, the firm's 45-year-old co-owner and vice president, invested $10,000 for a 10% stake in the business.

Things looked pretty shaky fer the business last November when the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved guidelines mandating that accurate wording appear on manufacturers' product labels. (Sonship Graphics did color separations for one food labler.)Because of the new guidelines--slated to go into effect this month--Gunn says the company he was doing business with stopped printing what would soon be outdated data.

The impact of the FDA ruling was severe for Gunn. He lost nearly 50% of his business, or about $128,000 in sales. The result: Gunn was forced to lay off

seven employees. Says he: "We now realize it's in our best interest to target corporations and individual printers." Among the corporations he's negotiating with are DuPont, Chrysler Corp. and NationsBank.

His client roster includes Black Excellence magazine and Virginia Power Co. Sonship Graphics, with four full-time workers, posted sales of $250,000 in 1991, Gunn projects 1992 sales of $800,000.

Sonship Graphics Inc., 147 Mill Ridge Road, Suite 122, Lynchburg, VA 24502
COPYRIGHT 1992 Earl G. Graves Publishing Co., Inc.
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Title Annotation:Sonship Graphics Inc.
Author:Davis, Eileen
Publication:Black Enterprise
Date:Nov 1, 1992
Words:314
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