Derek Armstrong, Blu Monster Print & Media

Tell us about yourself

I’m Derek Armstrong, born and raised in Toronto, living in London since 2011. I started my career in the printing industry in my early twenties progressing through various positions (production, customer service, sales) with the same company over 11 years. When that company was sold, my former boss offered me a sales position with a large CD/DVD manufacturer. I jumped on the opportunity to learn a new industry, but after about 5 years in that position I was looking for a new challenge and decided to start something on my own. Blu Monster Print and Media was born in 2005 in Markham, Ontario.  

Tell us about your business

Blu Monster Print and Media started as a home-based business primarily focused on providing CD and DVD replication/duplication services to other businesses and the music industry. The business was doing well for about 6 years until the growth of the internet, streaming and downloading started to negatively impact the CD/DVD market. At this point we were at crossroads as to how to proceed with the business and at the same time we wanted to move back to London to be closer to extended family. So, we sold our home, moved here and in 2013 opened a store front location of Blu Monster Print and Media to expand the print side to include Digital Print, Large Format and Signage. Of course, we still have our original media offering of CD/DVD services and last year we added Vinyl Record Pressing.

If you could sit down with any business leader or industry expert, who would you choose and why?

I’d love to sit down with Marcus Lemonis from the TV show The Profit. He invests in businesses and reinvigorates them. I try to watch each episode to learn from his processes and how they could be applied to Blu Monster. We can all learn from people that have succeeded before us.

What’s the best business advice you’ve ever received and why? What advice would you give to someone starting a small business today?

The best business advice that I received and can offer is threefold. First, prepare, create a plan, research the industry in your area, SWAT analysis, etc. to make a well-educated decision on a start-up / business decision. Second, once that decision has been made – JUST DO IT – put your heart into it, trust your plan and execute. Putting in the effort, with hard work and with some luck, you will come out the other end successful. Third, don’t be afraid to ask for advice or help from business leaders, advisors, friends and family. Even after being in business for 14 years, we continually ask for advice and seek out information and opportunities to grow the business. The Small Business Centre plays a role in this as we continue to utilize the supports available from on-site business professionals to courses to networking events.

What's in the future for your business?

We are optimistic and excited about the future of Blu Monster. On the print side, this past year we invested in new digital print and finishing equipment so that we can offer our customers the highest quality product faster and with more finishing options. On the media side, we listened to our customers and added vinyl record pressing to our offering and are currently in the process of developing a new CD packaging solution to meet their short run needs. We still consider ourselves a young company and look forward to greater growth and establishing deeper roots in the local community through our ongoing participation in volunteer, sponsorship and networking opportunities.

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