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Skidmore Studio Honored as One of the 2019 Michigan 50 Companies to Watch

April 22 2019

Alissa Kline

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

This year’s “Michigan 50 Companies to Watch” are a remarkable group of second-stage companies. Defined as having six 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, innovations, 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.”

In October of 2018, Patrick took over as owner and president of Skidmore Studio after the previous owner, Tim Smith, passed away suddenly earlier that year. Smith was at the helm of Skidmore’s evolution from agency subcontractor to a direct-to-client model. A journalist by trade, Smith also grew the studio’s strategy, messaging, and human-centered design practices.

Under Patrick’s leadership, Skidmore has further narrowed its focus and revamped its sales process, securing work with major food/beverage industry clients like Pabst and Lipari Foods. “It’s my desire to have a place where Detroit creatives can have fulfilling lives,” Patrick said. “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 US.

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. Graphic design services, digital expertise, copywriting, and brand strategy were added to the studio’s arsenal. Most importantly, the company began identifying, addressing, and solving clients’ underlying business challenges—rather than simply providing a requested deliverable.

Along the way, the studio continued to innovate around how to treat creative professionals. After all, the long-standing purpose of the company was to provide an environment for those people to thrive. By 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 their own brand, and their own products using their proven methodology. So, in the coming years, Skidmore will itself enter into the consumer packaged goods industry, either through partnerships, joint-ventures, or directly. Additionally, Skidmore is reimagining its cultural benefits to create an even more extraordinary workplace—a place where employees feel a great sense of purpose and pride, and are able to live their most fulfilling lives.

After 60 years in business, the company is honoring—and still creating—the legacy of previous Skidmore owners. The studio is evolving to add the highest value to their clients while maintaining a growing, sustainable business model. As Skidmore continues to scale its revenue by 25 percent 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 bringing new consumer products to market.

Winners of the “2019 Michigan 50 Companies to Watch” award 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.