executive perspectives: Hitting It Big
Paul Britten had a banner year in 1984. His hometown team, the Detroit Tigers, defeated the San Diego Padres to win the World Series. And shortly after, Britten scored his big break.
Britten's story begins at the University of Detroit School of Architecture. A broke undergrad in need of some extra cash, Britten hand painted banners for fraternities and sororities. He put his design skills to the test after learning about a local radio station's "best banner" competition. Britten took first place and was rewarded with box seats to the 1984 World Series.
Several days later, Britten secured a meeting with former General Motors (GM) Chairman Roger Smith that would ultimately kick-start his career. To commemorate the city's newly crowned baseball champions, Britten proposed creating a Tigers banner for GM's Detroit headquarters building. Smith took a chance on Britten and it paid off.
"[Smith] agreed to a $5,000 price for a 10-story-high, hand-painted paper banner," Britten recalled. "It was a huge PR success and within a year of working as an architect, I quit and started Britten Banners."
Britten Banners currently employs 250 people and ships more than 5,000 custom banner projects every month from its creative studios in Traverse City, Mich. Read on as Britten talks business and opens up about himself.
Print+Promo (P+P): How do you set goals for yourself? For your business?
Paul Britten (PB): My mother was a Catholic-school teacher all her life and I try to keep my faith and my family priorities far above my business. In the early days as an entrepreneur, I worked incessantly with the simple goal of feeding my family. Over the years, as the company has grown and matured, I strive to employ caring people and build a team and share my success with them. The culture and strategy and brand and people are all intertwined here at Britten—we all care a lot and we all enjoy being here. At least that's my goal.