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Vakhtang Duchidze | Designer and owner, graphic design and printing | Bank of Georgia, Georgia
Ten years into his dream job as a graphic artist, designing product packaging for local food and beverage companies, Vakhtang Duchidze has a solid roster of loyal clients, the satisfaction that comes from seeing one’s work on supermarket shelves all over Georgia, and a steady income. His business card reads: “Director, Graphics Design and Printing”. He’s a one-man operation. It is 2008.
The clients he started out with a decade ago have grown and expanded their product lines. They have plenty of work for Graphics Design and Printing, but they’re also concerned: “Vakhtang, you need to build a team around you so you can get the work done without wearing yourself down.”
Vakhtang can take a hint. It’s bad enough that he has to fend off new business; if he doesn’t expand, he risks losing existing clients, as well. He’s also a creative at heart: “A business plan, all that paperwork, and then hire other people let alone manage them…” Vakhtang shakes his head. “Frankly, it just seemed impossible. I was scared, but I also knew that it was now or never. It was time to see my bank.”
His apprehension proved unfounded. Vakhtang recalls that the loan officer from the Bank of Georgia – an EFSE partner since 2014 – sat down with him and really took his time. He assured Vakhtang that the bank’s support goes a lot further than just financing, and together, they worked out how to put Graphics Design and Printing on a solid and manageable growth trajectory.
“Because of the EFSE connection, my partner at the bank knew exactly what to watch out for and what kind of support I needed,” beams Vakhtang, “It felt like Graphics Design and Printing had left low-earth orbit and was now heading for the stars.”
It is 2018. Vakhtang’s business card still reads, “Director, Graphics Design and Printing,” but the team has grown to eight full-time staff. He not only owns the workspace he had been renting for over twelve years, he’s actually been able to expand it – to accommodate the latest-generation digital printing equipment. “At the beginning I was worried that I was giving something up, but today I get a charge out of working with a great group of people and getting the recognition from our customers. And I’ve never felt more energised and creative.”