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eternity creations

Laser Technology Takes Eternity Creations from Part-Time Hobby to Full-Time Business

Named the 2014-2015 Awards and Personalization Association Small Business Retailer of the Year, Eternity Creations embraces technology and a can-do attitude that keep customers coming back for more.

Cody and Janna Stewart, owners of Eternity Creations, were introduced to Epilog’s laser technology back in 2003, and for the past 13 years they have traveled an exciting road to get to where they are today. Named the 2014-2015 Awards and Personalization Association Small Business Retailer of the Year, Eternity Creations embraces technology and a can-do attitude that keep customers coming back for more.

“A friend of ours had bought an Epilog to use in a home-based business, and I simply fell in love with the technology. We soon saw that we could make a little money – and have a lot of fun – by having a laser of our own.”

Cody Stewart, owner, Eternity Creations

Cody and Janna Stewart, owners of Eternity Creations, were introduced to Epilog’s laser technology back in 2003, and for the past 13 years they have traveled an exciting road to get to where they are today. Named the 2014-2015 Awards and Personalization Association Small Business Retailer of the Year, Eternity Creations embraces technology and a can-do attitude that keep customers coming back for more.

“A friend of ours had bought an Epilog to use in a home-based business, and I simply fell in love with the technology,” Cody tells us. “In October 2003, my wife (Janna), our daughter (Kalan), and I decided to start a little business – more of a hobby, really – selling awards out of catalogs, letting our friend do all of the engraving. That worked pretty well for a little while, but we soon saw that we could make a little money – and have a lot of fun – by having a laser of our own.”

After much discussion, in February of 2004, Cody and his wife chose to buy their first laser– a 35W Epilog TT. The initial install took place in a local florist shop in Sulphur Springs, Texas, that is owned by Cody’s family.

“Setting up the laser in the flower shop really got the ball rolling,” Cody tells us. “Virtually every customer who came into the florist was introduced to our work, so we got a good bit of exposure in a short time. Since I still worked full-time in ‘corporate America’, running Eternity Creations was very much a part-time gig for me,” Cody said. “We plugged along like this for a year or so, consistently growing our customer base until it was taking up almost as much time as my paying job.”

In 2006, Cody was suddenly laid off from his full-time job.

“This was a huge blessing in disguise, since it gave me the push I needed to turn our little engraving ‘hobby’ into a full-time business,” he said. “We soon found a nice, 1,500-square-foot storefront location that we knew would suit our business well, and that opened a new and exciting chapter in our lives.Since that time, we have doubled our space and have invested heavily in other equipment including a bigger laser, mechanical engravers, sandblast cabinet, as well as other marking equipment.”

Cody tells us around the time they were moving into their new storefront location, the bulk of their work was in the awards industry, and a big portion of that were school-related athletic and academic awards.

“Over the next several years, we saw a shift in sales toward industrial applications, and today our mix of awards and industrial engraving is roughly 50/50,” Cody said.

Before starting Eternity Creations, Cody and Janna did an extensive amount of research on laser equipment.“We were very fortunate to be in Engraving Concepts’ territory, and the team there spent a lot of time showing us different capabilities of Epilog systems,” Cody tells us, “so I felt quite comfortable in buying our first system from them. Although I was still very much a novice, I knew that I had the benefit of their considerable expertise behind me, giving me the confidence I needed to tell my customers ‘Yes, we can!’ when they asked us to do work for them.”

Cody explained that there were several features that were very important them when it came to selecting a laser system. “A short list includes dependability, a big/deep table, high power, and simplicity of use,” he said. “We found all of these elements in our Helix. Just as important as the hardware features was support – both from our sales reps and from the factory.The bottom line is that we chose Epilog because their equipment provided the features we needed, and we knew we would have incredible support from Roy, Randy, Jeanette and the entire team at Engraving Concepts,” Cody said.

In terms of getting up and running with the laser system, Cody tells us the initial learning curve was fairly easy. “Our employees have also found the Epilog easy to operate after a short block of instruction,” he said. “In fact, most employees have been up and running within a day or so. I believe that this is largely due to the simplicity of the print driver and the machine’s control panel. Since we have the ability to save settings for different materials and applications within the driver, there’s no guesswork in setting the speed and power levels.”

Cody said that his Epilog Helix does about 75% of the engraving and marking at Eternity Creations. “For the most part, we use it much like any other awards retailer would – plaque plates, acrylics, and so on,” he explained. “But we also use it to create some of the masks for sand carving, as well as cutting and marking mats for the custom picture frame side of our business. The laser does most of the work for our industrial applications, which consist mainly of plastic tags and stainless steel plates.It’s worth noting that the laser doesn’t exist in its own little world – much of our work involves multiple marking processes, and the laser plays some part in almost all of them,” Cody said.

In the past 12 years, Eternity Creations has done some amazing work.“One job we’re particular proud of is a stainless steel manifold cover that was engraved with Cermark,” Cody said, “which then went to the International Space Station. Another memorable job was engraving anodized aluminum pistol grips for a division of the Homeland Security SWAT team.”

Cody tells us that in essence, he and his family built their business around their original TT. “The projects we sought out and accepted in the beginning were mostly geared toward using our Epilog to do the marking and decoration, so it’s fair to say that the laser provided much of the foundation of our company,” Cody said. “The versatility of this system has given us the ability to confidently accept challenges on a routine basis. Having this machine has opened up so many doors for our business!”

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