The Aurora Chamber of Commerce would like to recognize our newest member going into 2020, After Hours Grafix as January's Member of the Month.
Troy and Kelsey Hofmann started After Hours Grafix in 2009 and have grown every year since. They are well known around the community for their car wraps with they display on their personal cars which you can't miss.
They primary work on the design, print and install of wraps and have any projects displayed around town, check them out on their Facebook and website.
"We have heard we are one of the top 5 companies for wraps in the state of Nebraska and we are a “one man show” versus the others that have 5+ full-time employees," Kelsey Hofmann said.
They have established many connections in their time across Nebraska.
"We are the main graphic provider for the three ambulance dealers in the state of Nebraska. Which means that every ambulance they order, customers can add a graphic package to it. The dealers handle most of the design layout we need. We then design in our program and get it approved and install each ambulance within 1-3 weeks before it is to be delivered to its home. These are all done in 100% reflective film so they can safely be seen at any time of day," Kelsey said. "We recently have gotten in with a charter bus company where we will now be wrapping the majority of their school charter buses that they sell."
This reputation didn't happen over night, and they got their start over in Hastings.
"We started this business way back in 2009 when Troy was a young 19-year-old and Kelsey was 17 years old and they were dating. He was in college in Hastings for Machine Tool & Die and Drafting. Kelsey was also in college in Hastings studying Business Administration and Entrepreneurship with hopes of heading to hair school when she was done." Kelsey said.
Troy then got a job at a grain bin company in Grand Island after he graduated where Kelsey says he eventually worked way too many hours between his drafter job and After Hours Grafix.
"I got a job at a local hair salon after finishing hair school, so we bought a house and moved to Aurora in July 2012 since we would both be commuting from Hastings where we previously lived. We later got married in October 2012 so have been in Aurora all our married life. In 2014, Troy finally pulled the trigger and went full-time with AHG (After Hours Grafix) and things haven't slowed down since!" Kelsey said.
They said they eventually ran out of room in their basement and garage, so they bought a building on the "square" in downtown Aurora.
They officially opened the storefront in January 2015 after lots of renovations, and now they have an office, production area, and install bay all in one location.
But this small business has even outgrown that location.
"We have bought an acre of land and are officially building our dream shop out by the interstate and Hwy 14 because we are outgrowing this space and need a bigger garage/install bay to fit charter buses, semis, and other bigger projects. It will be just shy of 7,000 square feet with a 45ft x 81ft install bay with the rest being for production, 2 offices, break room, 2 bathrooms, storage, and a new salon. We are hoping to have construction done in 2020!" Kelsey said.
This two person team has made this business into what it is today but they both have very different roles but also have some help from a fury friend.
"Troy is the main man here and works his tail off. He is the lead graphic designer, expert installer, receptionist...all the things. I am the main person you will see posting on social media. I also do the marketing and the billing part of AHG. And then there is Mr. Myles, he is our shop dog, greeter, lover, licker, stress reliever, again...all the FUN things!" Kelsey said.
They said the projects change from day to day but they have a good routine down for the business.
"Troy wakes up at 8-8:30, to work by 9am, check emails, get to installing if working on a project, lunch at 11:30am for 20 mins, back to installing or doing what needs to be done. Deer Jerky and Mountain dew snack time at 3pm, back to work, crack a beer at 6pm while continuing to work, go home to eat supper anywhere between 8-10pm for 20 mins then back to the shop to work until finally clocking out between 11-11:30pm. Bed by 1am and then do it all again the next day! 7 days a week average 105+ hours a week," Kelsey said.
"I Wake up at 9-10, to the salon on Monday/Wednesday/Thursdays from 11:45 am until 8-9 pm . Home to make supper, eat and back to work on scheduling social media posts or getting them ready for the next day, or just catch up on mail/deliveries, etc. On Tues/Fridays when I help Troy I am usually at the shop by noon and help until 8-9 pm with peeling out contour cut decals, banners, returning emails or phone calls, messaging people back on social media, bank stuff, paying bills, updating our website, pretty much anything! I’m usually up until 1-2 am by time I’m cooled down enough to get to sleep,"
The Hofmann's told the Chamber that a vehicle wrap can take over 40 hours for just the install which Troy can get done in just a few days, versus the normal person who only works 40 hours in a week.
"What a lot of people don’t know is the number of hours it takes from start to finish. Along with installing, we have to design, size, test print, actually print it, prep the vehicle by disassembling the mirrors, handles, bumpers, grills, window seals, etc. and wiping down with 2 different cleaners all before the actual install can start," Kelsey said. For a full description of the process check out their page at auroranebraska.com
But they say all the work is worth it in the end because the best days of work for them are when they send the project home.
"Every day is a good day when I get to see the customers face after they see the finished project! Also checking a big project off our to do list is quite satisfying after all the hours we have put into it. It's almost like a sigh of relief that one more thing is done and then, on to the next one!" Kelsey said.
Not to say they don't face their challenges too. Kelsey says that working with wraps can be a very tedious job and with a one man show, it can feel like time is always running away.
"Patience, definitely, so many hours to do a project and many days feel like we get nowhere, and nothing done but it’s the little things that may take hours to do but makes us stand out from our competition."
"Also, there is only so many hours in the day to get projects done and we wish we could clone Troy. Since this is just a niche occupation, it’s so hard to find help that you can trust and has experience in installing wraps. It takes years to perfect installing and every time someone must come back in and get something fixed because it wasn’t installed correctly, can kill a whole afternoon/day which puts us even farther behind on our project list. Also, many times we get vehicles straight from dealerships or manufacturers which is before some people even drive them. So, if we are scratching/cutting into the paint or the windows when we are trimming the wrap and its literally a brand-new vehicle, people would not be happy with us," Kelsey said.
But we are happy to have After Hours Grafix apart of our community and they feel the same.When asked what their favorite part of Aurora is, here was their response:
"Small town feel with plenty to offer. Lots of business owners supporting other businesses. Everyone feels like extended family that you want to be around."
For more information about After Hours Grafix, check them out on auroranebraska.com under the business directory.
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