A nondescript office building in downtown Wilmington is the hub for sales and marketing materials for one of the fastest growing on-line social retail sites out there: LivingSocial.
For the past two years, the company that offers on-line daily deals, like Groupon, in about 647 markets worldwide has contracted with DazTech, a Wilmington-based print and on-line promotional design company to purvey, print, distribute and manage its promotional materials. That effort includes housing about 40 different products in Wilmington and shipping out 15 to 20 orders daily to sales reps in all 50 states, Canada, England, the Netherlands and New Zealand. DazTech has been working with LivingSocial for about two years.
The local promotional printing company came from humble roots. DazTech began by screen-printing t-shirts in a basement with a dryer named The Spirit that had a propensity for arson.
“It was a horrible way to start. Half the shirts we’d print would catch on fire and catch the others on fire,” said Jon Spetrino, 38, owner and president of DazTech. He began the company in 1992 with his brother Dave Spetrino, 40, president of Plantation Building Corp. The company’s name is an amalgamation of Dave’s initials, D.A.S., and Aztec, for the tribal-style that was popular in the early 1990s.
“When I took on LivingSocial, that was something I always envisioned us wanting to do or being able to do,” Jon Spetrino said. The opportunity arrived when, one day, a former client called him with a rush order for 500 lime green corkscrews for a start-up company.
“When that call came in, I wrapped my hands around it,” he said.
That was two years ago, when LivingSocial was just spreading its wings. Now, the Washington, D.C.-based company has more than 60 million members, who log in to take advantage of discounts on local restaurants, goods and services, activities and getaways in metros around the world. Word on the street is the Port City will become one of LivingSocial’s next new cities in early April. A spokesperson for the company would not confirm its expansion into the Wilmington market, although a local sales rep has been hired. As of now, the nearest city to cash in on its deals is Raleigh.
LivingSocial’s good fortune has enabled to DazTech to double its business and add two new full-time positions. The company, which used to operate project-by-project, now has accounting, billing, sales, design and distribution set up.
For LivingSocial, the company sources schwag, such as magnetic finger puppet monkeys, imprints items with the LivingSocial logo, stores it and distributes it to sales and marketing staff, who place their orders on-line. Spetrino created the on-line store that manages LivingSocial’s inventory and enables orders to be placed around the world at any time.
On any given day, an order of 20,000 peppermint fortune cookies with custom messages or 5,000 sunglasses could be delivered to DazTech’s downtown office, where it stores LivingSocial’s apparel, bottles, pens, tradeshow booths and banners. To accommodate the orders, Spetrino began leasing the 6,000-square-foot space in September.
Back in the day
DazTech began with printing t-shirts for a rugby team and then a fraternity.
“I am the hands-on person. I am the printer, the screen washer. I even got into embroidery to do the Greek lettering, the cutting and sewing,” Spetrino said.
But it was Dave’s idea to move the company out of the basement and into a storefront.
“Dave, who is really more of a business developer, was able to generate a lot of business opportunity,” he said.
DazTech’s first big order came in 1997 when specialty food purveyor Wagner Gourmet Foods contracted the company to design and print 50,000 customized mugs for its 150th anniversary.
That order gave Dave Spetrino enough capital to get his general contractor’s license and begin Plantation Building Corp. Following that, he handed over the DazTech reins to his younger brother.
1992 DazTech is founded in Radford, Va.
First t-shirt orders were for the Radford Rugby Team and Sigma Chi fraternity
1995 DazTech moves to Wilmington
1997 The young company prints 50,000 customized mugs for Wagner Gourmet Foods;
Dave Spetrino receives N.C. general contractors license and forms Plantation Building
2001 DazTech moves to the Washington, D.C. area, where Jon gets into multimedia and web
2006 Jon moves DazTech back to Wilmington and launches several local retailers’ on-line
2010 DazTech fulfills its first LivingSocial order: 500 green corkscrews
2011 LivingSocial rebrands and grows to about 4,900 employees;
DazTech adds space to store and distribute LivingSocial’s marketing materials, from
fortune cookies to tradeshow booths
2012 DazTech turns 20
Article Written: Alison Lee Satake of Greater Wilmington Business Journal