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Skidmore Studio honored as one of the 2019 Michigan 50 Companies to Watch

April 22 2019

Alissa Kline

Skidmore Studio was recently recognized by Michigan Celebrates Small Business as one of the Michigan 50 Companies to Watch in 2019, an awards program recognizing advocates of small business in Michigan.

Companies who are selected to receive this honor are a remarkable group of second-stage companies. Defined as having 6 to 99 full-time-equivalent employees and generating $750,000 to $50 million in annual revenue or working capital from investors or grants, these companies form the backbone of Michigan’s economy. Representing all regions of the state and a diverse range of industries, companies like Skidmore Studio are known for their exceptional entrepreneurial leadership, creation of innovation or use of innovation in creative ways, and their sustainable competitive advantage.

“We at the Michigan Celebrates Small Business organization are proud to recognize these exceptional companies. They are a tremendous part of Michigan’s success and we are excited to see what the future holds for them,” said J.D. Collins, State Director of the Michigan Small Business Development Center and a member of the Michigan Celebrates Small Business Board of Directors.

Drew Patrick, owner and president of Skidmore Studio responded, “It is such an honor for Skidmore to be recognized by Michigan Celebrates Small Business for the 2019 Michigan 50 Companies to Watch Awards. For 60 years, our studio has continued the legacy of our founder, Leo Skidmore, of building a respected business that provides an innovative environment for creatives. Today—with clients around the world—we are a team of brand strategists and designers that help good companies be their best. I’m humbled by the opportunity to lead such an extraordinarily talented group of people. We will continue to support the revitalization of Detroit and represent the creative workforce of Michigan. This is an incredibly exciting time for Skidmore!”

Patrick officially took over as owner and president of Skidmore Studio in October of 2018 after the previous owner, Tim Smith, passed away suddenly earlier that year. Tim was at the helm of Skidmore’s evolution of going from subcontractor to agencies, and finally to a direct-to-clients model. A journalist by trade, Tim also brought marketing strategy, messaging, and the inquisitive, human side of creative problem-solving to the studio.

Under Patrick’s leadership, Skidmore has further narrowed its focus and revamped its sales process, quickly securing work with major food/beverage industry clients including Pabst and Lipari Foods. He says, “It’s my desire to have a place where Detroit creatives can have fulfilling lives. And, I want everyone at Skidmore to benefit from the success of the business. By virtue of the work we are doing going forward—being specialized and expert-driven, adding higher value for our clients, and responding to opportunities that aren’t simply one-off projects—we will have recurring revenue streams going forward.”

In 1959, Leo Skidmore set out to develop a company that would provide the artists of Detroit a place to be cared for, feeling that other companies were often taking advantage of these extremely talented people. Skidmore’s focus on company culture began from day one, and it worked. Skidmore quickly became one of the most sought-after illustration shops in the United States.

As time passed, technology advanced. Photography began to replace illustration, artists needed to learn new skills, and the company adapted to the needs of the market. The scope of services changed and broadened in order to compete with other agencies vying for the same business. Design services, digital expertise, and strategic business planning were added to the studio’s arsenal. Most important, the company began identifying, addressing, and solving clients’ business challenges—rather than just providing a requested design deliverable.

Along the way, the studio also continued to innovate in the way treats its employees. After all, the purpose of the company was to provide an environment in which those people could thrive. By actually providing that healthy and supportive place to work, Skidmore continues to recruit and retain the top creative talent in Southeast Michigan.

Skidmore is already imagining and working on ways to partner with or grow its brand and its own products because the company knows they have the secret sauce. It’s been able to prove success for their clients. So, in coming years, Skidmore will itself enter into the consumer packaged goods industry—either through partnerships, joint ventures, or directly. Additionally, the company is reimagining cultural benefits at Skidmore, linking back to the roots of Leo Skidmore—creating an extraordinary place for Detroit’s best creative talent to thrive, where they feel a great sense of purpose and pride and are able to live their most wholly fulfilling lives.

The studio is positioned to be a long-standing strategic partner to its clients. After 60 years, the company is honoring and still creating the legacy of Skidmore owners while ever evolving to add purpose and the highest value to its clients while maintaining a growing, sustainable business model. As Skidmore continues to scale its revenue by 25% each year, it will disrupt the focused niche consumer packaged goods in the food industry and is determined to become a household name to food manufacturers who are bringing new consumer products to market. In 2019 Skidmore is anticipating incredible growth and recognition as it assembles and the most exceptional team the creative world has ever seen.

Winners were selected by Michigan-based judges from the banking, economic development, entrepreneurship development, and venture capital communities. The selected companies also go through a rigorous due diligence process.

Skidmore Studio will be honored at an awards ceremony during the fifteenth annual Michigan Celebrates Small Business gala event, May 8, 2019, in Lansing, Michigan.