The advice given to most young, intrepid entrepreneurs is to start small. When your business idea requires a multimillion-dollar piece of equipment that won’t fit in a garage, however, that piece of advice is not easy to follow.
Such was the case for brothers Tim ’08 and Andrew Harris ’15, who in 2017 co-founded ColorHub, a digital printing company specializing in high-end graphics packaging and retail displays.
“What made it difficult is it’s not the kind of thing you can start in your basement and casually grow from there,” said Andrew.
The duo grew up thinking about starting a business together some day. “Our grandpa owned a tool distribution and supply company and our parents were missionaries in the Philippines, so I think we grew up with the mindset of starting things from scratch,” said Andrew. “We grew up with an entrepreneurial mindset.”
Tim stumbled upon the idea for this type of niche printing when he came across a video of an innovative single-pass digital printer made in Spain. At the time, Tim was working for a corrugated box company and realized what this could do for the industry.
“I was so excited about it,” said Tim. “I couldn’t get it out of my head.”
About a year later, Tim began scratching out numbers and putting financial models together. “I decided to pursue it until I got to a hurdle I couldn’t jump over; I haven’t gotten there yet,” he said.
He approached Andrew, who was working for a startup as a Venture for America fellow, with the idea. “I could see us building a business around it,” Andrew said.
Central to ColorHub is the Barberán Jetmaster 1260, the only press in the world with the print quality and speed capability to make their revolutionary packaging and display production feasible. It was featured in the video Tim had seen a few years before.
Theirs was just the second installed in the U.S. at the time. “It’s cutting-edge for the industry,” Tim said.
Since adding a third co-founder, Steve Pastoor, the company has hired an additional 25 employees and added machinery, including cutting and gluing machines as well as additional printing presses.
Since beginning production a little more than two years ago, the company has done retail displays and packaging for national membership-only stores, Fortune 100 and 500 brands, ecommerce, and other startups.
And while there have been bumps along the way, they are committed to seeing ColorHub thrive financially, but also as a place that values relationships with their employees.
“I was once told that a missionary serves God the most, a pastor second, and a teacher third, and everything else comes after that,” said Tim. “I wondered, ‘How do I serve God by doing something else, something that I feel more gifted in?’
“I know that we are called to serve God through our gifts and abilities and to steward those as much as we possibly can,” he said. “Part of that for us in this business is showing God’s grace and light through how you interact with others. We take that seriously.”
“I’m grateful for the perspective of Calvin’s business department,” added Andrew. “They helped me see a way to use business for good. I feel like I can pursue a career in business without feeling like I’m walking away from my calling.”