Interview-Barry Landsperger of Comprehensive Assurance

Interview-Barry Landsperger of Comprehensive Assurance. Comprehensive Assurance is a Monroeville based health insurance agency. Here is their contact info: http://www.comprehensiveassurance.net or 412-825-6000.

Due to the Covid-19 virus, health is at the top of everyone’s minds these days. Barry gives us a peek into what is happening in the health insurance industry during the current crisis. Below is our interview-Barry Landsperger of Comprehensive Assurance.

Barry Landsperger and his wife on their wedding day in a black tuxedo and white wedding dress.
Barry Landsperger on his wedding day.
Question 1:

77 Design Co: How has the Covid-19 pandemic affected the health insurance industry?

Barry Landsperger: So, from a health insurance standpoint, most carriers including UPMC and Highmark have agreed to pick up all cost sharing for testing and in patient treatment for Covid-19. Therefore, customers of theirs that aren’t getting tested because they believe they can’t afford it, can rest assured that they can get tests done.

Question 2:

77: We are pretty sure you are getting swamped with calls/emails right now. What is the most common question you’re getting?

BL: Yes, swamped! Probably most calls are from those that are laid off. Individuals that are laid off worry about losing their health insurance. Consequently, there ARE options available for them. These options vary upon the individual.

Black and yellow Comprehensive Assurance logo on a white background.
Comprehensive Assurance logo.
Question 3:

77: What do you suggest for those without health insurance right now?

BL: I suggest they contact an independent health insurance professional. Call someone like myself, or one of our competitors. That is to say, our services are free and we can explain all of their options. To clarify, some plans are inexpensive and usually quite affordable. Some have better coverage available that they may not have had previously.

Question 4:

77: Are rates for health insurance changing during this pandemic?

BL: No. Rates are already locked in. I’ll pass along a little known fact. Rates are actually regulated by the state.

Question 5:

77: Can you tell us something good from all this, either professionally or personally?

BL: Personally, I get to be home more with the family! That’s good right there.

On the other hand, professionally, our current system is flawed. It doesn’t help every American. We’ll need to look over all of this to better the system afterwards. Some good may come of it. As a result, that should help in the long run so everyone has access to affordable coverage.

Admittedly, <laughs> I am also an insurance nerd! So, this has given me time to look over things to better serve our clients. I’ve also been reading things about how we can better the system as a whole.

77: Anything you’d like to add?

BL: Yep. I’d like to say that I hope everyone stays safe and healthy! I will also say, that we are all very lucky to live in western PA. UPMC and AHN are world class organizations right here in our area!

Barry Landsperger in a blue shirt posing with his family on a sunny day on their patio.
Barry and his family.
Conclusion:

Thanks for the interview and insight into the health insurance industry, Barry! A lengthy discussion occurred after the interview about a great many things happening in the world. We will not discuss those details here. However, we do want to say thanks for your (always) honest and genuine opinions on these matters. Two things you can always count on when talking with Barry.

77 Design Co. is committed to helping small business succeed. We want to keep their doors open, and keep roofs over their family’s heads. Keeping your business alive during this mess is crucial.

Finally, contact us if you own a business, or know of a business owner that needs marketing help. We are volunteering work at heavily discounted rates (or in some instances free) to keep business stable in our county and local area. Any way we can help, we will.

Additionally, here’s our services: https://77designco.com/services-2/

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Interview-Kate Dawson of Ferri Dawson Insurance Group

Interview-Kate Dawson of Ferri Dawson Insurance Group. Ferri Dawson Insurance Group is based in Murrysville, PA. http://www.fdinsurancegroup.com

We are continuing our blog series of interviews with local business owners in the Westmoreland County and surrounding areas. The COVID-19 situation has impacted every business in the area, and nationwide. While we are attempting to get as many perspectives as possible, it’s also interesting to see how businesses are impacted differently. This week, we’ll hear from Kate Dawson, owner of Ferri Dawson Insurance Group.

Kate Dawson portrait photograph with dark background.
Kate Dawson-Ferri Dawson Insurance Group
Question 1:

77 Design Co: How long have you been in business? How about the insurance profession?

Kate Dawson: November 2019 was our Ferri Dawson open date. I’ve been in the profession almost ten years. First, I started out with claims. Next, I spent several years with a captive insurance agency. After that, a few years with an independent agency before starting out on my own.

Ferri Dawson Insurance Group diamond shaped logo.
Question 2:

77: How has Covid-19 affected your business?

KD: Well, for instance, a large part of my business is helping new home buyers. A lot of closings have been delayed or are on hold. For example, home inspections are not being done. Without these inspections closings cannot be done either.

Meanwhile, I’ve been focusing a lot on reviewing policies and coverage for clients. Further, how the virus has affected us is that I can’t meet face to face. That’s been very different for me. I’m used to meeting people.

The insurance industry is “life-sustaining” so we can continue to work from the office or home. We just can’t have any foot traffic.

Question 3:

77: Can you offer anything during the crisis?

KD: Yes. So, Ferri Dawson can do comprehensive insurance reviews. Many times people have said to me, ” I wish I would have done this sooner. I just didn’t have the time.”

Question 4:

77: Do you have suggestions for customers or others that have insurance needs or questions?

KD: Certainly, one suggestion is to use this time to cross off your check lists. You may have had some things on the back burner, this is the perfect time to get those done. For instance, insurance needs change over time. It’s more important now than ever to make sure you and your family are properly protected. Likewise you can save money!

Last week I spent ten minutes on the phone with a client and they ended up saving over two thousand dollars per year! Their coverage stayed the same, but they saved a huge amount of money. Extremely important right now.

Question 5:

77: What’s your favorite thing to do during lockdown time?

KD: <laughs> This is NOT the standard answer. So, umm, I like to learn more about insurance! Everyone is turning to Netflix, but I’ve been immersing myself in this industry. I’m reading books, articles, and journals about…insurance, <laughs again> that’s not a normal answer!

It’s also been good to take this time and work on technology. Learning Zoom and other technologies has been a learning experience. It’s still acceptable and sort of like meeting in person. The only thing though, is you can meet in your pajamas!

Kate Dawson portrait at the computer with a yellow shirt.
At the computer
Last Question:

77: Anything you’d like to add?

KD: Above all, yes, my suggestion to the general public is to use this time wisely. Use it for something that’s going to benefit you in the long run. I hope others do that for their own good. Also, be safe and be healthy.

Conclusion

Thanks for taking time to answer questions with us, Kate! Her contact info is 724-575-7237 or kate@fdinsurancegroup.com

77 Design Co. is committed to helping small business succeed. We want to keep their doors open, and keep roofs over their family’s heads. Keeping your business alive during this mess is crucial.

Finally, contact us if you own a business, or know of a business owner that needs marketing help. We are volunteering work at heavily discounted rates (or in some instances free) to keep business stable in our county. Any way we can help, we will.

Additionally, here’s our services: https://77designco.com/services-2/

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Analyze. Create. Achieve.

Interview-Chad Amond Westmoreland County Chamber of Commerce

An interview with Westmoreland County Chamber of Commerce President/CEO Chad Amond.

Headshot of Chad Amond President/CEO of the Westmoreland County Chamber of Commerce.
Chad Amond President/CEO Westmoreland County Chamber of Commerce

We wanted to start this interview blog series off with Chad Amond of the Westmoreland County Chamber of Commerce. Chad is on the frontlines of business in our county. He is not only heavily involved in our county’s economy, but also cares deeply about its local business owners and our residents. Below is the interview-Chad Amond Westmoreland County Chamber of Commerce:

Westmoreland County Chamber of Commerce Ribbon Cutting.
Question 1:

77 Design Co: As Westmoreland County Chamber of Commerce President/CEO, you’re at the heart of the Westmoreland County economy. Off the top of your head, what effects are you seeing from the Covid-19 situation?

Chad Amond: We are all struggling. We have “non life-sustaining” businesses that are struggling more. On the other hand, some “life-sustaining” are doing well. But companies like yours that mostly work remotely seem to be doing OK. IT companies are doing well also. I always say, no business is non life-sustaining. An example of this is a single parent employee of a non life-sustaining company that is not earning an income right now. Therefore, they may be struggling to pay bills and feed their child or children. So, no business could ever be non life-sustaining.

Question 2:

77: Which industry (or individual businesses) are hurting the worst in our county? What can we do to help as a community?

CA: So many are struggling. No, I don’t want to state any one specific industry or individual business as worse than another. For instance, it’s almost every business.

I’d say what we can do is buy more gift cards, or order takeout from local restaurants. As a community, we can go online and, if given the opportunity, buy online from a local business. The large national or international corporations will get their business. They are important, too. However, supporting local business is more important now than ever. Go to Facebook or Instagram, or wherever and review these local businesses and make sure to tell your friends and family about them.

Question 3:

77: How are other counties doing? Have you had any contact with other Chambers of Commerce?

CA: I’ve been working hour by hour, or minute by minute in some cases with Jim Smith President/CEO of The Economic Growth Connection of Westmoreland (EGC) and Jason Rigone Executive Director of the Industrial Development Corporation (WCIDC) about the situation. All three organizations are working together along with elected state officials too. It’s rough all over.

Question 4:

77: Any organizations that we can mention that our community can donate to to help the situation?

CA: All not for profits seem to be struggling. I’ll mention Adelphoi, food banks, and United Way, but there are more. You can call 211 and United Way is answering health related and food questions anyone may have.

I want to mention The FirstEnergy Foundation is donating $500,000 to 42 local food banks and hunger centers. It will accelerate approximately $1.5 million in matching contributions to 116 United Way agencies throughout the company’s service territory. This helps support vital health and human services organizations who need it the most during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Question 5:

77: Anything good you are seeing from all this? We love optimism.

CA: This is the most stressful, confusing, and weird thing that’s ever happened in most of our lives. It’s like when our grandparents or great-grandparents went through World War II or the Great Depression. They got through it though. That is to say, whenever it ends things will be much less stressful than even before it occurred. We will have endured.

When it does end, people will be flocking to the movies, restaurants, malls, stores, etc. like never before. That’s the positive. We have that to look forward to.

77: In conclusion, anything you’d like to add?

CA: We absolutely have to thank our hospitals. We need to thank our nurses, doctors, entire staffs, and first responders. Certainly, our grocers, gas station attendants/owners, and food services also need to be appreciated. Consequently, they are the ones getting us through this.

Westmoreland County residents should try to buy local 99% of the time, too. During this, and even afterwards, our local businesses will need our help.

Most importantly, I wish our county, nation, and well, the whole world to just be healthy and safe sooner rather than later.

A quick side note from 77:

In conclusion, we’ve explained in past social media posts and blogs about how our business was formed. If it wasn’t for the Westmoreland County Chamber of Commerce, we wouldn’t be here. Networking years ago at the Westmoreland County Chamber of Commerce is what started our business. For that we will always be grateful. We are still proud members of the organization.

From a personal standpoint, Chad has been a great colleague and mentor to 77 Design Co. We are also honored to call him a good friend (and a fellow Red Sox fan along with co-owner Bobby Drakulic) too. Chad would like to mention that he also likes the Pirates. He had a chance to throw out the first pitch at a game last year as well. If we had to describe Chad in one word, it would be “GENUINE.”

Lifelong Red Sox and Cheers fan, Chad Amond.

77 Design Co. is committed to helping small business succeed. We want to keep their doors open, and keep roofs over their family’s heads. Keeping your business alive during this mess is crucial.

Finally, contact us if you own a business, or know of a business owner that needs marketing help. We are volunteering work at heavily discounted rates (or in some instances free) to keep business stable in our county. Any way we can help, we will.

Additionally, here’s our services: https://77designco.com/services-2/

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Analyze. Create. Achieve.

Keeping Your Business Alive

Keeping your business alive during this crisis is undoubtedly on the top of many people’s minds. Needless to say, we are in uncharted territory with regards to everything going on today in our society. The Corona/Covid-19 situation and the stress of the times is starting to weigh on everyone.

First of all, we believe that the health and safety of our community is the number one priority. However, we also have hope that sooner than later our lives will return to something they resembled in the past. Nothing lasts forever. Our kids will return to school. Businesses and organizations will return to their offices. Commerce and the economy will begin to flourish again. Life will return to something that resembles what we had before Covid-19. Sounds like the speech given by Bane in the movie Dark Knight Rises, but true.

Open For Business!

77 Design Co. is open for business. Saving businesses online one day at a time! We’re not going to quit the fight. Unless, every business in the world ends, we’ll be here, and we will continue the fight for your success!

The advantage to a business model like that of 77 Design Co, is that we are nimble and able to adapt quickly. Double 7’s can function at 100% as a virtual business. We’ll utilize the very technologies we help to create for our clients. Our goal is to continue to brand and market your business or organization during these unprecedented times. In some cases, with current clients, they are FLOURISHING! Big time!

77 Design Co business card, keyboard, and flash drive.
Call, email, or text if you have questions. We’ll help in any way possible. Free of charge!

It’s understandable that the economy is going to suffer for a period of time, however, we highly recommend that your marketing efforts do not stop. Believe what you will, but now is the time to act. Time to double down on your efforts. The market may be soft because of this pandemic, but once doctors, scientists, and medical professionals get this outbreak under control the market will rebound. It will rebound in a BIG way! Once the pandemic is over customers will be back out buying like never before. Don’t be left behind. Come out on top.

What Can You Do?
Image of scrabble pieces spelling marketing.

Your customers are counting on you to be there at the end of this. For example, think about adding to or creating new elements for:

* Social media marketing​

* Email Marketing

* SEO (Search Engine Optimization)

* Blogging

* Remote blog or social media training for your staff.

* Updating or creating a website

* Direct Mail Marketing

* Radio Advertising

* Digital Marketing / Google ads.

Further, you can view ALL of our services here: https://77designco.com/services-2/

ADAPT and ADAPT NOW!

Adapt and change with the market BECAUSE THAT IS WHAT YOUR CUSTOMER NEEDS. Our community is all in this together. Above all, please don’t give up on yourself or your business and throw in the towel.

Don’t say there isn’t any opportunity in a down market. Refuse to say “no one needs what I’m selling, or I can’t sell what I have.” We’re all going to take hits during this crisis, but take a minute and think through your business, your verticals, and your products.

Where will your business be at the end of this pandemic?

What can you diversify with your products and services?

Where can you create a new product line?

Can you create a new avenue of marketing or drive demand for your product and a new line of revenue?

In addition, this Ad Exchanger link https://www.adexchanger.com/strategy/the-dos-and-donts-of-marketing-during-a-global-crisis/ discusses more. Here is an important excerpt from the article, “Sales will be lower all around during an economic downturn, but the advertising you do today will help you over the next year, the next five years and beyond,” Wieser said. “This is actually a good time to build trust.”

Nothing Comes Easy

While it won’t be easy, it’s certainly possible to succeed in a slumping economy. We’re here to help and answer any questions you may have. For instance, let’s work together to develop strategies to help you navigate these uncharted waters.

77 Design Co. is committed to helping small business succeed, keep their doors open, and keep roofs over their family’s heads. Keeping your business alive during this mess is crucial.

We have been, and will continue to work for, local businesses at reduced rates, commission rates, or in some cases free of charge until this ends. The top priority at 77 Design Co is to see as many businesses through these tough times as possible. Once again, keeping your business alive is the only thing we want for you. In conclusion, if we all work together, we will survive!

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Marketing Success in a Down Economy

Marketing success in a down economy. Yes, your business CAN!

The Coronavirus has brought almost everything to a screeching halt. Tough times indeed, but the final story has not yet been written. Fighting for the success of your business is CRITICAL!

Dollar bills and coins laying on glass with the 77 Design Co business card.
Keep your business marketing and diversify!

The Great Depression was one of the hardest economic times for consumers and companies in American history. However, a few companies doubled down on their marketing and advertising. They adapted, and even developed new products/services during that time. That is to say, consumers still had options and choices to fit their budget.

No matter the economic climate, day of the week, time of the year – someone, somewhere, is still doing business. Shouldn’t YOUR business be out there to compete?

Sure, maybe people won’t replace their HVAC systems and buy add-ons like UV lights and extra filters, but there’s still repairs to be made. Maybe they will buy the add-on!

Windows will still need to be replaced. Construction of new homes and buildings will still take place. People will still need to see the dentist. Cars will need to be repaired or insured. Groceries will still be purchased. Shoes will still wear out. Grass will inevitably grow and lawns will need to be cut. Some of these businesses may be halted right now. Doesn’t matter, there will still be demand in due time. High demand!

Until then, read on about how to diversify…

Life will go on we will adapt. Money may not flow as freely as it has in the past few years, but it will still flow. Thinking about it, maybe we took everything we had for granted (which is a totally alternative topic.) However, consumers still need products! Let them know you are there and can get them what they need!

1. Proctor & Gamble

How did Proctor and Gamble beat the Depression? Things got tough when grocery customers started cutting their orders. Inventories piled up. P&G realized that even in a depression people would still need soap (again no matter the time, day, economic climate, someone somewhere is doing business.) So, customers decided they may as well buy from Procter and Gamble. Why? Because they saw them, and saw them often.

Instead of pulling back their advertising, P&G throttled up. The company researched and actively pursued new marketing avenues, including commercial radio broadcasts. One of these tactics involved sponsoring daily radio serials aimed at homemakers, the company’s core market. In 1933 P&G debuted its first “soap opera”, Oxydol’s Own Ma Perkins. Women around the country quickly fell in love with the tales of the kind widow.

This program was so successful that P&G started cranking out similar programs to support its other brands. By 1939, the company was producing 21 of these so-called “soap operas.” In 1940, the company started its own production division for soap operas. By 1950, it made the first ongoing television soap opera, The First Hundred Years.

2. Martin Guitars

Like entertainment of the time, musical instruments would seem to be a vulnerable industry in a down economy. As a result, venerable acoustic guitar maker Martin made it through the Depression utilizing strategies that were deliberate and well thought out. Martin is known for some of the most high-end guitars in the world today. The company stuck to its principle of not giving high volume retailers discounts, which maintained its relationship with smaller dealers and cemented the company’s image as a fair manufacturer.

Martin also created an “entry level” line and began offering the new, less expensive models. They went on to enjoy great popularity. The ​guitar that comes to mind when someone says “acoustic guitar” is the “dreadnought” born out of necessity during The Great Depression.

Once again, marketing success in a down economy.

3. Breweries

Ah, Breweries! Yes, money was tight, but brewer’s core product, beer, wasn’t even legal! Talk about having it BAD! During national Prohibition from 1920 to 1933, about half of the country’s breweries closed their doors. Alternatively, several hung in hoping and working for a repeal. How did these brewers make ends meet during the Great Depression when they couldn’t sell beer to a distressed population of people? Worse, people who didn’t have jobs? By diversifying.

And then diversifying some more…. And maybe even a little more…

Brewers started venturing out into other enterprises including running dairies, selling meat, and other agricultural enterprises. Brewers were also allowed to make “near beer” that had only trace amounts of alcohol. Breweries applied their expertise to soft drinks like ginger beer. Frank Yuengling, who headed the brewery of the same name outside of Philadelphia, remained confident that Prohibition was just a phase. He personally diversified widely, including a foray as a bank president and opening a dance hall.

In the end, waiting out the storm by diversifying (and maybe brewing some illicit beer on the side) turned out to be a sound marketing strategy. According to a survey done by the American brewing ​industry, eight of the 10 largest brewers in the U.S. are pre- Prohibition brands that survived through the Depression.

Coors Brewing Company also diversified and weathered the storm during the Great Depression. Good stuff! We all (beer lovers) appreciate this today! Check out more brewery success stories here: https://www.history.com/news/brewers-under-prohibition-miller-coors-busch-yuengling-pabst

Another example of marketing success in a down economy.

A photograph of a case of Coors Original Banquet beer outdoors.
Conclusion.

So, don’t say there’s not opportunity in a down market. Don’t say no one needs what I’m selling, or I can’t sell what I have. Use all of your resources and brainpower right now to come up with a plan.

We’re all going to take hits during this crisis, but take a minute and think through your business, your verticals, and your products. Can you diversify? Where can you create a new product line? How can you create a new avenue of marketing to drive demand for your product? While it won’t be easy, it’s certainly possible to succeed in a slumping economy.

We’re here to help in any way we can. Drop us a line.

Marketing Scrabble tiles and a 77 Design Co business card.

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Will Your Business Survive the Coronavirus?

Will your business survive the Coronavirus? Nope, this is not a health-related blog. No, we are not health experts or doctors. However, hopefully this blog will find those interested in securing the success of their small business through the tough economic times ahead. We are talking marketing, finances, and brand awareness here.

The Obvious

It is pretty obvious from the stock market, closures, and the craziness happening that we are about to go through a monstrous economic downturn. As a result, many will suffer if they are not prepared. You cannot argue that fact logically. It WILL happen. It may be a few weeks (hopefully) or it may be longer term. What must your company do to avoid falling into an abyss and suffering the fate of other ill-equipped businesses?

Design of a small business owner shackled to a weighted ball in blue with gold coins. Will your business survive the Coronavirus?

To clarify, the cancellations of trade shows, seminars, schools, business trips/meetings, sporting events, and many other high-profile large events will undoubtedly affect us all. In addition, restaurant, bar, and other establishment closures are imminent. Other small businesses are no exception. They will feel the heat also. In fact, many small businesses will be facing very turbulent times ahead. You need to prepare!

If you don’t want to hear anymore, go ahead and click the X button at the top of your screen. Consequently, what we say about preparation won’t matter. Don’t worry, we won’t hold it against you.

You’re still reading. So, what can you do as a small business owner to ensure that your company survives?

History

Throughout history, there are some fantastic stories of business success during or after an economic downturn. The story of Proctor & Gamble during the Great Depression is a great example.

To make a long story short: Proctor & Gamble doubled down on their advertising and marketing while other companies were cutting ad budgets. P&G understood that even during the Great Depression, people would still need soap. They started new radio ads and targeted homemakers with other new marketing avenues. They faced difficult financial times during the Great Depression, but never wavered on their marketing campaigns. When the recession ended, P&G came out on top as one of the leading soap companies in the world. These ads led to the creation of “soap operas.” Because they continued to stay in front of people. They were well recognized and created a brand awareness that other companies lacked. We’ll keep the story short. Look it up. See here for other success stories: https://money.cnn.com/galleries/2009/smallbusiness/0901/gallery.founded_in_a_recession.smb/3.html

Moral of the story: don’t get left behind. Tough economic times require a HUGE push on your marketing. Scrape together what you can and get your message out. Not just any message, but the right message. Make your business known and visible. Cutting your marketing/advertising budget is a recipe for disaster.

Recommendations

Will your business survive the coronavirus outbreak? Well, that is entirely dependent on you, the business owner. We do have some recommendations though.

Woman checking phone while wearing  a Coronavirus mask.
COVID-19 has already disrupted every aspect of our lives.

Now that events are being cancelled, and working remotely is being encouraged, online marketing and social media will be more important than ever! Consumers will be home and will also be on their desktops, TVs, laptops, tablets, and phones even more.

We recommend looking into paid Google ads, consistent social media marketing, Geofencing, and/or pushing your business’s SEO (Search Engine Optimization) RIGHT NOW! Currently, we still have Facebook. Instagram and LinkedIn are still up. We still have Google. Cell phones are still working. Additionally, make sure that your company website is updated often and optimized. TV or radio ads will do wonders, too.

The creation of an interesting and visual marketing campaign is vital. Start thinking about it yesterday. Because, it will separate you from the competition. Your competition likely will cancel ads or downplay the importance of their marketing and advertising. They will suffer.

Conclusion

The cream will rise to the top. Prepared businesses will reap the benefits. The Coronavirus could be a serious hinderance or a unique opportunity to separate your business from the rest of your competition. The question is, how will you use this moment?

In conclusion, as a local marketing firm, we feel it is our obligation to help other local small businesses as much as possible. We are deeply concerned about the success of our colleagues within Westmoreland County, Pa. and the surrounding areas. The United States of America, our citizens, and the millions of small business owners here are a resilient bunch. We will get through, but it will be hard. Nothing new for any of us.

We must all be prepared though for the coming weeks, months, or hell…even years. As a result, you can plan to position your business for stability now. Will your business survive the Coronavirus?

77 Design Co orange logo on gray background.

Stay healthy. Stay smart. Don’t panic. Don’t let failure occur. We all need to stick together. Let us know how we can help. For a free consultation in creating a strategic marketing plan, feel free to touch base with us.

Reach out to us by phone at 412.889.3495, or rob@77designco.com or bobby@77designco.com.

Analyze. Create. Achieve.