Havers Design first opened its doors in 1983 on Fourth Street in Courtenay with about 200 square feet of space in a section of the building that is now home to Michael’s Off Main.
“I had a burning desire to make a living in a community I had recently fallen in love with,” Neil Havers says now. “Equipped with a drafting table, technical pens, pencils and paper I offered my graphic design services in a marketplace that was accustomed to receiving design services from sign shops. Needless to say it was a tough go at first but persistence prevails.”
This was not only before the age of computers, it was also before the age of fax machines.
“Pretty much everything I created back then was a combination of hand drawing on artboards combined with ‘letraset’ lettering,” adds Havers.
One of his first projects was a poster for the Renaissance Fair in 1984, the precursor of today’s Vancouver Island MusicFest, which he has been intimately involved with for many years.
“I have seen an amazing amount of change in the delivery of marketing services over the years,” he notes.
“It all started with the fax machine. My first one cost me $2,500. On purchasing it I was disappointed to realize that no one else had one yet! Not much later we were able to work with businesses throughout the Island and Lower Mainland, faxing design concepts back and forth, that was cutting edge back then. “
Then the personal computer came along. Havers started working on Macs in 1985, which cut down production costs immensely as well as allowing for more creative freedom. Then along came the internet and the use of email, slow at first but very exciting.
Needless to say the $2500 fax machine wasn’t looking so special anymore. This was soon followed by the introduction of websites, online purchasing, FaceBook, Twitter and other forms of social media. It became a whole new marketing world with its own language.
“Learning and understanding these new marketing delivery systems has been both a challenge and highly rewarding. The print industry has been dramatically reduced over the past ten years.
“Today. most of my time and energy, besides working on traditional branding and graphic design projects, is spent on website development, social media marketing and search engine optimization,” says Havers.
“What hasn’t changed is relationship building with clients, many of whom have become good friends over the years. Taking the time to get to know a client and understanding his or her vision of the direction they want their business to grow and earning their trust is very important. All the technology in the world can’t help you there.” adds Havers.
Now, 27 years later, Havers Design is making another move, this time to join the ranks of home-based businesses. Leaving his office on 11th Street, Neil is working out of his condominium, which offers a stunning view of the Courtenay River.
‘Technology (for better or worse) dramatically reduces the frequency of face-to-face meetings with clients, making the need for a storefront operation redundant. The delivery of marketing services may have changed dramatically over the years but my desire to express myself creatively hasn’t,” adds Havers, “I look forward to working with existing and new clients for many more years to come.”
— Havers Design