Formations Design Group returns to downtown roots and evolves with technology
Formations Design Group moved from downtown Vancouver to a Hazel Dell office in 2001 before many of the improvements to downtown began materializing. Now the company has returned, and like downtown Vancouver, Formations Design is in a period of transition itself.
Formations Design specializes in the design of print media, Web sites and packaging. Owners Bruce Wilson and Karen Laksamana moved the company back downtown to be closer to the clients they serve in Vancouver and Portland. Laksamana joined the company as an intern in 1997 and became a partner in January.
Wilson’s wife started the company in 1988 from the couple’s home. They moved the company to downtown Vancouver’s Webber building in 1991 when they began to hire employees. Wilson’s wife left the company to teach in 1993. Formations Design spent 10 years in downtown before heading to Hazel Dell.
"When we left downtown, the city had not yet finished the revitalization around Esther Short Park," said Wilson. "There was not a lot going on and we needed more room."
With downtown beginning to show more life, the company saw a need to return and now occupies about 1,450 square feet of office space on "C" Street, just north of East 15th Street.
"It’s a better location for clients to come and see us," said Laksamana.
The office also gives the company room to grow, which it expects in the near future.
Wilson and Laksamana are currently joined by one employee. The company relies on contract workers as needed, but expects to hire an additional employee as early as this summer.
As technology has advanced, Formations Design has shifted its focus to meet changing demands. Today, the company is staging itself to take advantage of Web design needs in the area "that are growing by leaps and bounds," said Wilson.
The company first started working with Web sites in 1996. And technology has impacted all segments of its business. Traditional print work is now created and processed digitally.
"Now that is just the way everything is done," said Wilson.
The company’s business is split evenly between print and Web design. But growth is expected on the Web side, as most of its new clients request these services.
The company’s clients vary from small businesses to corporate giants. AT&T’s home phones are placed on shelves in packaging designed by Formations Design. Subaru’s western region offices rely on Formations Design for design of Web sites and banners and signage.
The company would like to attract more small, local businesses requiring Web design and maintenance to diversify its client base. In addition to the ownership and location change occurring in the last year, one of the company’s main clients created its own in-house design department and no longer required Formations Design’s services. That is the danger with relying on a few large clients, said Laksamana.
"It’s nice to have big clients," she said. "But it’s trouble if they go away."
One of Laksamana’s first goals as a partner with the firm is to get the company more involved in the community and create awareness among business owners. The goal, she said, is to be known as the best Web development company in Clark County.
"The Web business is safer," said Wilson. "There are a lot more clients."
The work of one print client can take the time of up to three Web clients, he said.
Formations Design expects to grow revenues by 50 percent over the next two years to $600,000 annually.
Bruce Wilson and Karen Laksamana, owners
1610 "C" Street, Suite 100, Vancouver
Bruce Wilson and Karen Laksamana, owners1610 "C" Street, Suite 100, Vancouver360-694-0060