WHITESBORO — The premature birth of his son helped Ryan McGrogan realize that time is precious and that there was no time like the present to pursue his dream of being in business for himself.
While he has been providing freelance graphic-design services under the McGrogan Design name for more than a decade, in June he took things to the next level and formally launched McGrogan Design (www.mcgrogandesign.com) as a full-service graphic design business.
“It’s always good to brand yourself,” he says. So he took the same advice he gives his clients and branded himself.
McGrogan runs the business on his own from his Whitesboro home. Currently, he has between eight and 10 steady clients and takes on between five and 10 one-time jobs a month.
A 2004 graduate of Whitesboro High School, McGrogan received an associate degree in graphic design from Mohawk Valley Community College. He first worked at the Observer-Dispatch in Utica and Northern Safety in Frankfort, but really honed his skills during a seven-year stint at FosterMartin Interactive Marketing in Utica. Following than, McGrogan worked at PAR Technology Corp. in New Hartford for just over three years as that company’s sole designer.
During that time, McGrogan took on freelance jobs where he got to exercise his creativity. The driving force to turn that freelance work into a full-time job came when his son Peter was born two years ago. Peter was premature, weighing less than 2 pounds and spent more than 100 days in the neonatal intensive care unit. McGrogan took time off when his son came home, but found he wasn’t as passionate about the work.
“When your child is hooked up to tubes and wires for months, you realize that you only have a certain amount of time here, and there is no reason to spend time doing something you don’t absolutely love,” he says.
McGrogan Design formally launched June 1 and held a ribbon cutting June 25 with the Greater Utica Chamber of Commerce, where his wife Meghan McGrogan is executive director. The chamber is one of McGrogan Design’s clients.
Other clients include Broadway Utica, Boilermaker Road Race, Utica Coffee Roasting Co., United Way, Cliff’s, Mohawk Valley Wellness, and The Balanced Chef. McGrogan declined to discuss revenue totals or goals.
McGrogan works with a lot of businesses just starting out that need to brand themselves with things like a logo, web site, and business cards. “That’s kind of a sweet spot for me,” he says. He’s also works with existing businesses ready for a change and to mix things up when it comes to marketing.
His goal is to deliver something that is different from what his clients are used to. He was able to do that for Utica Coffee, bringing fresh eyes to tweak the company’s branding.
“They’re a great client,” he says. “They have the most fun ideas.” One of those ideas that McGrogan worked with the company on involved themed holiday mugs that will be arriving later this year.
McGrogan enjoys working at home and visiting his client’s locations, but says the next step for his business will be the find some office space. While he’s not actively searching, McGrogan says he’s keeping his eye out for a nice office or mixed-use space in Utica or Whitesboro.
At this time, he is unsure about hiring employees. His current level of business keeps him hopping and he enjoys being part of every project. However, McGrogan expects that he will need to eventually hire an employee or two to help with development.
“I am a one-man shop that can do anything from creative to web to video,” he says. “I offer everything an agency does, but I don’t have to charge a ton since I have low overhead.”