Through the highs and lows, Al Bullock has always gone the extra mile.
Al Bullock, the owner of Kayla Creative, will be the first to tell you he hasn’t lived a perfect life: failed businesses, financial hardships, foolish choices. But the love and support of his family has given him a blessed existence and his clients superior service in all things image-related from brand development through graphic design and production, including tradeshow and exhibit support.
Born in Brooklyn and raised there and in Farmville, North Carolina, Al became a master cabinetmaker, making mostly kitchen cabinets. He left New York and moved to Bucks County, Pennsylvania, and set up his own shop. A lady arrived at the shop one day asking for a shadowbox to be built for a wedding gift. The deadline was tight, but Al made the box and purchased a metal emblem with the wedding date engraved in it. The customer was blown away by the attention to detail and the service. As it turned out, that lady worked for the local newspaper. She soon returned with a writer and did a story on Al’s work.
One copy of that newspaper story landed on the table in the lobby of a tradeshow and exhibit company in Trenton, New Jersey. The owner of the company picked up the paper and read the article while having his morning coffee and called Al with a proposition. He was looking for someone to turn around his sales division and increase the level of customer service. Al was able to do that and more for the company before leaving to go back out on his own.
It hasn’t all been great. Al’s first company, Jada Creative, was named for his first-born daughter. After 16 successful years, the company closed. He thought he was going to go get a job at another company, but it wasn’t to be.
“All anyone was interested in was for me to be in sales for them,” Al says. “I felt like I had more to contribute than that.” He sat down with Joyce, his wife and partner in all things, and discussed it. Joyce went back to work and Al started Kayla Creative, named for their youngest daughter. It wasn’t easy starting a business after having one that failed, but Al persevered.
Times may have been lean, but Al never sacrificed on his level of service or customer appreciation. That commitment to service has generated results. Al remembers walking through a trade show that was about to begin and seeing some people struggle to set up their exhibit.
“I could tell a piece was broken,” Al explains. “And I knew it wouldn’t go together unless that was fixed.”
Al stopped and offered to help. He took his suit jacket off, rolled up his sleeves, grabbed a screwdriver and got to work. It was only after he fixed the frame and they pulled out the panels that he realized he had just fixed the Johnson & Johnson booth. They became a client, a partnership that remains in effect to this day.
When calling on clients, Al makes it clear that he is not looking to become a vendor, he would like to become a partner to support their needs.
“A vendor has business hours,” Al notes. “A partner is always available.”
That constant pursuit of a delighted customer has produced long lasting relationships with partners such as Major League Baseball and Cracker Barrel. It turns out that companies like that, too.