Better Together: LTD Creative Celebrates 20 Years
Twenty-one years ago, Tim Finnen told Louanne Welgoss that she would deliver her baby the next day. Inexplicably, he was right—despite the fact that the baby was two weeks early.
Stories like this abound throughout their business relationship and close friendship. In the 20 years since they founded LTD Creative, they have experienced highs and lows and leaned on each other through it all. They even jokingly refer to themselves as “married,” although it’s clear they are platonic besties. The history of their award-winning design firm in Frederick, Maryland is full of funny stories, hard work, and tons of creativity.
How It Started
The pair first met through a mutual employer, and after they both left due to commuting burnout, they collaborated often on freelance projects for various clients. Louanne enjoyed designing magazines and running the business side of things. Tim focused on creative output, but didn’t enjoy the administration piece. They realized they’d be better together, and haven’t looked back since.
When they stumbled upon a small business conference called “Mind Your Own Business (MYOB),” the pair met speaker David Baker. He helped fine-tune their business model and narrow their focus to working with associations. They returned to MYOB several times, and once they snagged so much “free” hotel shampoo and conditioner that they exceeded the luggage limit. Tim still has some of it after all these years! They also left with Baker’s contact information and hired him to perform a 1-on-1 audit of their business. Baker helped them define their job roles as partners, identify and assign responsibilities, organize their finances, and taught them to work as business partners.
Building Their “Family”
With a fresh take on business, Louanne and Tim began targeted marketing. Their new focus on association magazines and conference marketing led to even more success. While there were a few employees in the early years, their current employees have remained loyal to LTD Creative for decades. As Tim says, “we have been blessed with two very dedicated individuals with great work ethic and sense of responsibility.”
Evan Wiegand, Senior Graphic & Interactive Media Designer, started working at LTD Creative straight out of college in 2005. His portfolio showed great talent, but it was his work ethic and organization that wowed both Louanne and Tim. In 2008, Senior Designer Lauren Noll brought her skills as a designer and illustrator—along with her meticulous attention to detail—to LTD, making her an integral part of the team. And, throughout the years, 5 canine “pawfessionals” have graced the office and provided therapy on long days.
Both Louanne and Tim credit the longevity of their staff to treating Lauren and Evan like family. Having started their careers in the late 80s—when benefits were better—Tim and Louanne aim to give “the kids” more freedom and better work/life balance than they would find elsewhere.
The Power of Connections
It hasn’t always been easy owning and running a design firm. Tim and Louanne both agree that they rely on each other when it gets tough. This holds true even when creativity tests machinery, like the time Tim tried printing on Tyvek and jammed the printer. Their partnership is a priority, and they feel a strong responsibility to themselves as well as “the kids” to support everyone. They’ve learned the power of adaptation to overcome adversity, and rely on past experiences to say “if we got through that, we can get through this.”
Louanne and Tim’s connections throughout the Frederick community and beyond not only have allowed the business to flourish, but also have provided avenues for them to give back. AM&P Network is a particular place of friendship and education for Louanne. Both Louanne and Tim have been active in the local Ad Federation throughout the years (Louanne was president twice) and are longstanding members of ASAE. Tim taught the next generation of designers at Frederick Community College for 7 years. Louanne has also served two terms as a board member for the Downtown Frederick Partnership and is currently a trustee on the board of directors for the The Community Foundation of Frederick County.
The Next 20 Years
While Tim and Louanne are seasoned professionals, they still have “a good long time left” before they are ready to tap out. They remain dedicated not only to their business, “the kids,” and their clients but also to the communities they belong to and their legacies of giving back.