For more than 40 years, companies have stuck with Dec-O-Art for printed decals, labels and nameplates to identify their products and ensure people use those products the right way. According to a report in the South Bend Tribune, the family that founded the Elkhart, Ind.-based business has stuck together, too.
Charles Dosmann founded the business in 1971, and four of his sons — Carl, Tony, Fred and Ron — run it today. The RV and manufactured housing industries still represent about half of Dec-O-Art’s business, but it has branched out into other sectors such as automobiles, boats, lawn and garden equipment, appliances, vending machines and electronics.
Charles was 40 years old when he started Dec-O-Art. He was tired of selling life insurance door to door, and he saw potential in making information and warning labels for RVs and manufactured housing — two industries emerging in Elkhart County at the time.
He used a small inheritance from his father to open a screen-printing business inside a former neighborhood grocery store on East Third Street in Mishawaka, not far from the home where he and his wife, Dorothy, were raising their nine children.
It took just a couple of years for Dec-O-Art to outgrow its original 800 square feet in Mishawaka. By the mid-1970s, the company had moved to Elkhart, where it now has 30,000 square feet of space in a three-building complex.
Carl Dosmann, the company’s quality manager, said his father found early success by adopting a unique business model.
“He was going over to Skyline and Coachmen, and he would see that they were all using the same labels,” Carl said of the RV manufacturers. “Everybody was using them, but everybody was buying them custom and waiting two to three weeks to get them. He said, ‘I’m going to make extras, put them into inventory and then when they call up, I can deliver them right away.’ They loved it.”
Dec-O-Art expanded its catalog from one page to more than 20 pages with that success. The company currently has five catalogs.
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