Pit Stop Printing may be a new member to the LMCDC, but not to the Lake Mills community! This year marks 12 years of business for Katie Wubben, founder and owner. Katie started Pit Stop Printing in 2004, which also happens to be the year she graduated high school!
“My first sign was for my graduation open house,” said Katie. “And now we’ve done business with customers in 27 states and 4 different countries. That’s crazy!”
Originally, Pit Stop Printing offered signs, decals and printed products (letterheads, business cards, etc.,); but as experience compiled, the product line grew to personalized apparel using vinyl film, screen printing and, eventually, embroidery. Due to the apparel and decal side of the business expanding to such a great level, the focus has been put on these products. Pit Stop Printing has a store in Lake Mills, but also utilizes web-based selling platform Etsy to reach customers globally.
“Change can be scary, but it’s necessary to continue to grow and evolve as a business. It’s fun to step back and look at how far we have come,” said Katie, discussing some of her proudest accomplishments as a business owner. “But, my favorite aspect on a day-to-day level is customer reactions.”
One instance, Pit Stop Printing sold a pillow, embroidered with ‘I read past my bedtime,’ to a woman in New York who told Katie that her young daughter just loved the gift when she opened it on Christmas morning. “It’s times like those, when you realize that we are making cherished items and memories for people all across the country, across the world!”
Being a business owner is not always as glorious as it may seem, but Katie will be the first person to tell you that it’s worth all of the hard work.
“Right away, it’s constant work. There were no sick days, no paid vacation days, if I wasn’t there – money wasn’t coming in. But now, Pit Stop Printing is like a well-oiled machine. I have 2 employees and they probably know more about what’s going on day-to-day than I do. The three of us together make a powerful team.”
Of course, there are benefits to being an entrepreneur. Being your own boss allows flexibility and control over company values.
“I get to create the environment for my employees,” said Katie. “I have the freedom to do business – or not to do business – with people based on how they treat my employees.”
Employees are very important to Katie. “I like to empower them to help me make important business decisions, because any changes we want to make in the organization affect them just as much as it does me. Since they are invested in Pit Stop Printing and I can trust them to work hard and with a sense of ownership, if frees up my time to be a better business owner and boss.”
“I would like to add something to that,” chimed in shop manager, Sherlock Ward. “One reason I see Katie as such a great employer is that she doesn’t make me do things I’m not good at. She takes into consideration our strengths and weaknesses and works with us to keep us happy in our positions. Not a lot of employers do that.”
“People always tell me ‘You were so brave to take the risk to start a business!’ and I think about my 18-year-old-self taking that leap and how I was the perfect candidate to give it a shot, because at that point in my life I had far more to gain than I had to lose,” said Katie. “I would love to encourage young kids to consider entrepreneurship as a viable career path right off the bat.”
Katie is already getting her feet wet in public speaking, having been invited as an industry leader to speak at two regional conferences in 2016, one in Redwing, Minnesota and one in Chicago, Illinois.
“I am trying to take on more speaking roles, because I was once in the audience of those classes and I know how much they inspired me,” she said. “Like I said, I would love to work with young kids and get them excited about starting a business and following their dreams, before they get the enthusiasm beat out of them by the scary aspects like risk or time commitment.”
It doesn’t take long while speaking with Katie to realize that she is very passionate about her industry and see that she has a lot to teach people about the entrepreneurship lifestyle. Here is to another 12 years of growing and improving for Pit Stop Printing! Stop in and check out what they can do for your business, team, family event and so much more! You’re guaranteed to be impressed!
You can visit Pit Stop Printing at 109 N. Mill St., Lake Mills, IA, between 8 am - 5 pm on week days or contact them at (641) 592-2520, www.pitstopprinting.com, Facebook and Etsy!