Jared Smith: Going the Extra Mile in Service

by Alison Stanton

Jared-SmithFor Jared Smith, president of Bluemedia, the phrase “make it perfect” is much more than just his company’s motto. It’s a personal mantra he and his employees live and breathe 24/7/365. It’s this commitment to perfection and always going the extra mile for their clients that have helped make Bluemedia one of the top large-format signage companies in the nation.

“This has been a concept that we have used for a number of years; when we are awarded a project, we treat it as if it’s our own internal project,” Smith says. “So if we are working on the Fiesta Bowl, we think of it as the Bluemedia Fiesta Bowl, and it’s the same thing for the Super Bowl or anything else we are doing.”

Bluemedia, founded in 2000, began as an offshoot of a business endeavor Smith and Lance Davis had started in 1997 to produce printed goods for a charity golf tournament. Realizing the potential of such a specialty in a state that sees about 9,000 golf tournaments annually, Smith and Davis founded Golf Tournament Group, LLC in 1998, bought their first digital printer and rented 300 square feet of office space. But then demand began building for digitally printed items that had nothing to do with golf, and they created Bluemedia as the non-golf division.

The company’s commitment to perfection, Smith says, means the employees make sure they deliver the best possible product each and every time, along with a lot of little extra touches and additions that might seem like they are minor but mean a great deal to his grateful customers. “When the job is done, we do things like add extra Velcro inside the box, and then we make sure there are extra instructions and a nice, full-color label on the outside,” Smith says. “Then, since we know that our clients might not have a zip-tie snipper, we go over to Home Depot and buy one for $2 and put it in the box.”

This perfectionist mindset, Smith explains, goes way beyond merely claiming to offer the best customer service. Instead of telling his customers about their impeccable work and commitment to them, he and his employees roll up their sleeves and get busy doing it. “We’ve got a job to get done and we know what we need to do,” he says.

In order to help make sure that his employees will share his same solid work ethic and sense of integrity, Smith has built in a series of tests and tools during job interviews to make sure he hires only the best of the best. “I will tell them that they will sometimes be working at 2 a.m., and that there will be days where they are told at 11 a.m. that they need to be up in Seattle by 3, and that if we hire them and upper management sees them drive by an old lady who is having car trouble at the side of the road, it would be grounds for dismissal,” he says, adding that gauging potential employees’ reactions to these scenarios helps determine whether or not they are a good fit for his company.

Smith also tests the problem-solving skills of interviewees, observing how they would tackle a situation. “I might ask them, ‘How far is it to LEGOLAND in San Diego?’ and then I will watch how they figure it out. If they bring out their smartphone to look it up, then they don’t even have to tell me the answer; I know they have the right approach.”

Smith says Bluemedia has been so successful and has so many repeat customers that his main challenge is making sure he and his staff do not bite off more than they can chew perfectly. Like a chef who has a great recipe and needs to determine how many servings he can make that all taste the same, Smith says he works hard to scale responsibly. “The last thing we want to do is take on more work than we can effectively staff for. If we feel like we are overproduced, we cannot call our clients and say, ‘Sorry, we are overbooked.’”

At the end of the day, regardless of how many projects they are juggling at once, Smith says he and his staff will never be content with merely getting everything finished on time. “Saying, ‘I hope we did a good job’ or ‘We probably did a good enough job on this’ are not phrases that we ever use.”

Signs of the Times

  • Smith has more than 20 years industry experience in graphics, printing and signage.
  • Smith’s first job was in high school, delivering flyers for a neighborhood Domino’s Pizza franchise.
  • To date, Bluemedia has reached approximately $40 million in sales.
  • The company is located in a 120,000-square-foot facility in Tempe.
  • Smith currently sits on the Specialty Graphic Imaging Association (SGIA) Advisory Council, Big Picture Magazine Editorial Board and the SGIA Congress.

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