From Wax to Fax to Macs

Neil-Havers.jpgNeil Havers carves out a successful graphic arts career.

The Marmot Newspaper began in the early 1990s, when Comox Valley Realtor Rick Gibson wanted to get the word out about recreational real estate opportunities at Mount Washington Alpine Resort. And while Gibson has kept the news of Mount Washington in the forefront of prospective buyers and residents alike, graphic designer Neil Havers has been in the background making sure The Marmot made it to print. With this issue of the Marmot Newspaper, Havers has also taken on the sales job. Bayne Mann and Deb Nolan, who took over for Wendy Woodley when she retired, are now busy with a humanitarian endeavor, the Mexican Schools Project. (Through the Strathcona Sunrise Rotary Club, Mann and Nolan volunteered to drive as part of a convoy taking supplies to a school in Cabo Corrientes, Mexico.)

Havers started his graphic design career after attending college, freelancing and working for design firms in Edmonton for three years, then three more in Victoria.

He moved to the Comox Valley in 1983 “for skiing and the ocean’ and opened Havers Design. He has worked for himself ever since, with a diverse list of clients from the resource to tourism industries.

“My first project was a poster for the original Renaissance Faire,’ says Havers. His first substantial clients included Strathcona Park Lodge and Mount Washington - business relationships that lasted well over 15 years.

Havers began designing and taking care of The Marmot's printing in 1993, when the publication was a four-page, full-colour brochure. “Like The Marmot now, it was a mixture of news and real estate listings. The first few issues took three to four hours to assemble compared to 30 or 40 hours now,’ says Neil.

The Winter/Spring 2013/14 edition of The Marmot marks the first time Havers has sold advertising on behalf of a client. “I've always focused on design, so for me this is a first. I've never taken on a sales contract in all the years I've been in business,’ he says.

“One of the main reasons I decided to take this on is because it fits within my focus on offering comprehensive services to a select group of clients.’

He has kept some of his longtime clients, and has amassed a list of diverse clients, such as The Marmot, T-Mar Industries (logging equipment manufacturer), Shelter Point Distillery, Get West Adventures, MusicFest, Vancouver Island MRI and Surgical Centre, to name a few.

“Ideally, I'd like six to twelve clients I do the majority of my work for, in addition to the relationships I've fostered over 30 years of business in the Comox Valley.’

Over the years Havers Design has evolved from a print-based to web-based business, and Neil has witnessed the incredible leap in technology.

“In the early days (1984) when designing an ad or brochure I would have to mail a letter to typesetters in Nanaimo since fax machines weren't available yet. The letter would include my ad or brochure copy and typesetting instructions - font, size, leading, style, etc. The typsetter would bus back a typeset galley. Inevitably, I would find typos and phone them to reset and resend on the bus,’ Havers said. “A day later I would pick up my galleys at the bus depot in Courtenay. That would be the amount of work required for one ad or brochure.’

Back then all artwork was assembled on art boards, heated waxers were used to adhere typesetting and images to the artboards.’

With the advent of Macintosh computers, he converted to the digital age, and has never looked back.

“The advent of web-based marketing has revolutionized advertising once again. It is constantly changing and a fun challenge to keep up with. Having said that, marketing fundamentals have not changed. You still need to brand your product or service and deliver a cohesive, memorable message and image to break through the clutter of advertising that surrounds us all.

“Print is absolutely miniscule compared to 10 years ago,’ he says. “But you still can't beat reading something in print... particularly the Marmot Newspaper!’