Every new entrepreneur dreams of staking a claim in his or her market, but how many are able to say they have a stake in the advancement of their industry?
Brothers John and Ken Dixon achieved this rare margin of success with the start of their Hamilton, New Jersey-based firm, Holman Technology, a major African American-owned company in the growing field of holography.
Holography is a photographic process in which light is bent to create a three-dimensional picture. To consumers, it’s the production of holograms — those shiny, reflective images seen on credit cards, toys, and even toothpaste packages.
“I’ve been in holography for 24 years and done everything from A to Z,” says CEO John Dixon, a graphic artist by training. “We were able to build a name and reputation before even launching out. The companies were calling us.”
His brother, Ken, 38, an electronics engineer, has worked at several leading computer companies, including Princeton Graphic Systems, Acer Peripherals and Multivideo Labs.
“This is a small industry,” agrees Ken Dixon, the firm’s president. “Word of mouth meant everything for us.”
And the word was that John, now 43, had established holography departments for three international companies. His last post was with Transfer Print Foils, where he first began outside consulting work and recognized the need for superior quality in holography equipment and services.
John left Transfer Print in 1997, and with brother Ken and sister-turned-business-manager Teresa Reed, 48, pooled $50,000 in personal savings and a $250,000 loan from the U.S. Small Business Administration to begin Holman Technology Inc. (The name of the company is a tribute to their mother, Carmen Holman.)
These New York natives have provided equipment and services to industry giants such as Chromagem, K-Laser and American Banknote, building a reputation for innovation and technical expertise. Last year, Holman helped produce an award-winning new coin for the Royal Canadian Mint.
“We’ve stayed competitive by actually changing our relationship with clients,” explains Ken. “Where we might have begun doing a client’s embossing, we could sell the embossing machine, then license one of our designs for replication, and later provide advanced technical assistance. As they grow, so do we.”
Holman currently has more than 20 clients, more than a third of which are based outside of the United States. The seven-person family affair posted revenues of $2.5 million in 1999, and is cultivating its direct-service business, where it hopes to be equally successful.
“There are truly no limits to the growth opportunities,” John says.
Holman Technology Inc., 5B Mar-len Dr., South Gold Industrial Park, Hamilton, NJ 08691; 609-890-4320; www.holmtec.com