Like so many businesses, Rob Eddy says that Info-graphics “braced for a down year when COVID-19 hit.”
Fortunately, for the Knoxville-based company that is celebrating its 25th anniversary, that was not the case. “We’ve been exceptionally busy,” says the company’s President. “October was the biggest sales month in our history.”
Founded as Hopps Communications in 1995 by Eddie Hopps to work with boating companies, Info-graphics has been a consistent innovator in the use of technology to facilitate better communication and comprehension. To underscore its tagline that reads “Complex Information, Simplified.” Eddy left Rubbermaid, then a client of Info-graphics, to join the firm in 2003, and we first spotlighted our neighbors in the Cherokee Mills complex in Knoxville in this February 2012 teknovation.biz article.
What’s allowed Info-graphics to weather the COVID-19 storm and continue to grow? Eddy says there are several reasons, starting with its clients and the company’s employees.
“Our clients are still coming back for many of the same things that got us started,” he says, noting that those needs focus of taking things that are complicated or hard to explain and making them easier to understand. Today, Info-graphics’ services fall primarily into four categories:
- Technical documentation development that includes user guides, technical reference, training content, and presentation graphics; concept and data visualization; and installation and operating instructions;
- 2D and 3D animation that combines great illustrations and graphics with motion, animation, audio, and video to tell a client’s story in fun and compelling ways;
- E-learning and app development that deliver additional relevant content, reinforces learning and understanding, assists with difficult or problematic steps, and ultimately creates a best-brand experience; and
- Technical illustration that takes a client’s information, breaks it down, organizes it, and visualizes it in ways that make it easy to understand.
Execution depends on the team, and that is an area where Eddy believes Info-graphics excels. “We have a really great core team” that includes a mix of seasoned professionals and young talent, he says. The longest serving employee is Kevin Lett, Senior Art Director who started in September 1995.
Due to COVID-19, the company has adopted a semi-virtual work plan for its core team – roughly half-time in the office and half-time remote. The core team is also supplemented by what Eddy describes as its flex force – resources in areas like video, voice over and translation that can be added to the team on a project-by-project basis.
“We’ve been juggling a lot,” he admits, noting something that most creatives relish – maintaining connections and bouncing ideas off their colleagues – is a challenge. Info-graphics has hosted virtual events to help keep the connections going.
There’s also the willingness to embrace emerging technologies. For example, when we posted our first article on Info-graphics in 2012, we described the company as having “a big footprint in the world of instruction manuals” and noted that it had “a focus not just on printed installation and service manuals but also an increasing emphasis on three-dimensional visual approaches, working with CAD/CAM platforms, developing animations, multi-media tools and even information access via mobile devices.”
Fast forward nearly nine years, and Eddy says much of the growth has come from areas like eLearning along with clients requesting more 3D model renderings and animation. For some technologies, the time is now; for others, well, we’re always investigating what will come next.
“We’ve dipped our toe in the water on artificial reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR),” Eddy says, adding, “I think we’re ahead of the market on those.”