Space can be at a premium for a growing business, especially when it’s merging with another company.
And it gets even more complicated when one of the companies, Innovative Etching, is based in Bethel, and the other, Engraved Products, is in Watertown. The perhaps not-so-obvious solution: Open in a new location in Danbury.
While Innovative Etching will also continue its existence at 18 Taylor Ave. in Bethel, owner Graves Kiely said, “It’s more of a warehouse space — it’s not the greatest place to show off our work. And there’s a lot going on with these two businesses.”
Under the Engraved Products umbrella, the two companies now co-exist at 4B Christopher Columbus Ave. Kiely declined to say what it cost him to acquire Engraved from its owner, Afrim Pocesta, but said it was a mutually satisfactory arrangement. After all, Pocesta is remaining as director of new business development.
“I found out about Graves through an employee of mine,” Pocesta said. “I talked with him and we decided this was a pretty good fit, and that he would be able to grow the business to the next level.”
The entire process took about three months, he added.
Pocesta sort of fell into the engraving business, he said. Joining the company in 1996 as a college student when it was based in Brookfield, Pocesta eventually bought the firm in 2000 when it became available. He relocated to Watertown in 2013 to be in closer contact with his school-age children. The decision to hand the day-to-day operations over to Kiely came when he became co-owner with wife Lisa of that town’s Uncommon Grill.
Transferring to Engraved’s new iteration along with Pocesta is production manager Ian Rodriguez-Torrent, who said that designing and producing awards, plaques, gifts and the like is rarely a process of simply slapping the right name on a pre-existing piece.
“We work with the client to find something that they really want,” he said. “Our goal is to make everyone happy.”
Kiely said that, like Pocesta, he got into the etching business through an unusual route. Beginning as a woodworker, having exhausted the possibilities of careers in acting and financial services, he shared warehouse space with Innovative Etching’s then-owner and eventually took over the company, having become “fascinated with the etching business.” Much of Innovative’s equipment is still in use, he said.
Sandblasting and laser-engraving services are available for products made of everything from glass, crystal and wood to plastic, acrylic and metal. Clients have included not just local sports teams and chambers of commerce, but such corporations as Subway, PepsiCo, Ethan Allen and New York Life Insurance Co.
The new Engraved Products may be small — its staff of eight includes creative director Penney DellaValle and general manager Dave McNutt, former Wooster School basketball coach, to target sports clients — but Kiely is confident that it will grow quickly.
“We should be able to double our size in terms of revenue in about two years,” he said. “And if it goes faster than that, that’s great.”
Expected to play a significant role in that growth is a new customer portal that has been developed by Clem Taeuber, principal at Danbury computer software development business Wellspring Technologies. The portal will help cut down on paperwork and “a lot of the back and forth that comes with this kind of designing,” Taeuber said.
Kiely was quick to point out that the portal will retain a personal touch.
“It’s not just filling out forms online,” he said. “Clients will get a personal response from one of our designers the same day, who will work with them closely going forward.”