Sharon Dunn | The Greeley Tribune, Colo.
In three short years, Jhenna Reed has taken her degree in graphic design from a basement office to a half-million company as the oil and gas industry continues to boom in Weld County.
Reed, 31, started Reedesign Concepts in 2011, designing logos, signage, brochures, you name it, to print on anything printable, and brought it to the Greeley oil field — going back to some deep roots.
“I have a family full of oil and gas,” said Reed, now a mother of 1-year-old Luxx, who enjoys mommy time at her mom’s new downtown Greeley shop. “My uncle owned one of the big rental companies in Casper for years, my grandpa was killed on an oil rig, my mom moved all over because of the oil field, my dad was a truck driver and started with the oil field. It’s kind of part of the family.”
She and her husband, Reilly Reed, 27, have carried on the tradition. Two years ago, prompted by her surge onto the business scene, Reilly took his oil field experience and built Elite Oil Field Services, which he started with a partner, and has grown to a team of 90 today.
Together, they’ve taken on the Weld County oil patch and share some clientele.
“The cool part for me, especially with Bill Barrett Corp., and Extraction Oil and Gas, is my husband builds most of their locations,” she said. “Most of those start out staked out as flat ground, then all my signs are there. He looks at it as his masterpiece, and I tie that together with something we’ve built together.”
Reed came to Greeley from Lamar to study graphic design at the University of Northern Colorado. She graduated in 2001, and went to work in the printing and sign business. She opted to break out on her own a decade later.
“A lot of my first clients were smaller, friends and friends of friends,” she said. A year later, she emerged from her basement to share a small spot with an insurance agent before recently moving into more than 5,000 square feet in downtown Greeley which formerly housed Napa Auto Parts.
She began pulling in clients from the oil field when she designed her husband’s logos, truck graphics, business cards and website. As he went out in the field, others started to notice his hard hat stickers, clothing and trucks. Work began to trickle in for Jhenna Reed.
“The oil and gas industry is a big part of my business,” Reed said of business today, about 65 percent of which is made up of oil and gas clientele. Her business is not limited to oil and gas.
“I do work with a local car dealership, and I have a lot of rental companies I do work for,” Reed said. “I appreciate all my customers small to large, whether it’s just one shirt and $15 a year, to $1,000 a year. I’ve been getting a lot of shirt business because I can do short runs. I can custom design it. And I’ve been getting a lot of foot traffic (downtown.)
“My ultimate goal would be to be a one-stop shop you can go to for anything you can put a logo on, from pins, to business cards, to clothing to vehicles, signage, Reed said.
Having a background and a presence in the industry, provides a ready canvas for her work.
“When I listen to their conversations, I know and understand what they’re talking about,” Reed said. “I’ve been on location with (Reilly) and helped him. When people call and say they need a sign for a separator, I know what that is.”
Signage in the oil field is mandatory on everything, Reed explains. That’s where she can fill a void. It’s not just about creating nifty designs all the time. The mundane stuff has a huge role to play as well.
“The amount of signage they’re required to have is crazy,” Reed said. “Every single thing they have has to be marked, and all marked with different numbers, so that kind of blew me away to look at all of that. Every single piece, from the basics, there has to be a sign at the entrance, a sign on the battery, each individual tank has to be marked with a flammability rating, each separator has to be marked. It’s just the amount they have to have is amazing.”
Today, business is bustling as she and three employees negotiate each other to get the job done.
“I do all the design work, about 90 percent of the signs and 99 percent of the installs myself,” Reed said. “That’s important to me. I built the business, and I still want to the be the face of this business.”
The more difficult part if keeping up, especially now Luxx is mobile. But this former waitress has long since learned multi-tasking.
She wants to branch out to become a one-stop shop for anyone needing design work, and be able to print anything on anything printable, from pins to shirts and hats.
“If oil and gas went kerplunk, would it affect me? Probably,” Reed said. “That’s why I want to work with all aspects of the economy.”
As a small business owner, she still is on call 24/7 and answers her phone on the weekends. She still does her own invoicing and finance work. That’s where her minor in business comes in handy.
“Probably the hardest part of it is the business side of it,” Reed said. “I see what comes in and I know what goes out and I’m not surprised.”
In addition to her design work, she is a retailer for Carhartt and Bullwork, and provides reflective taping and embroidery on companies’ workwear.
Reed knows she’s among many in the business fighting to provide the creative look for many companies.
“The nice thing about all those bigger companies is there is enough work out there for everyone to have a piece of the pie and continue to succeed,” Reed said. “If I stick with my few businesses and grow, that’s fine.
“There are very few people who go out in the world and actually work in the degree they have, let alone go out and start a business and keep it going,” Reed said. “There are very few people who wake up in the morning who love what they’re doing as much as they love everything else.”
“I appreciate all my customers small to large, whether it’s just one shirt and $15 a year, to $1,000 a year.