Inked in success
MOUNT AYR — The creative designs of Brad Elliott and Burton Murphy — co-founders of Podium Ink in Mount Ayr — can be seen on high-definition television screens all across the world.
You’ve probably seen their work and didn’t even know it.
Have you seen “Duck Dynasty?”
Remember the episode where NASCAR driver Clint Bowyer makes a guest appearance driving a camouflage limousine (pictured above) onto the “Duck Dynasty” set? The camouflage wrap on that limousine was designed by Podium Ink.
“Not a lot of people knew, but that limousine was at our shop in Mount Ayr,” Elliott said. “The limousine was purchased in Kansas City. It was driven to Mount Ayr, and we put the wrap and bull horns on the limousine.”
In the episode, Bowyer takes the cast of “Duck Dynasty” on a ride in the “redneck dream car.” Elliott said it was cool once the show aired to see that something done in southwest Iowa, at their shop, can end up in an extraordinary place like an episode of “Duck Dynasty.”
“That episode stirred things up around here (in Mount Ayr),” Murphy said, “and had people asking questions and put some attention on our business. In the episode, Clint ends up racing one of the main characters from the show in the limousine. It was great seeing something we did on a national stage.”
But, that limousine on “Duck Dynasty” is just the latest creative design by Podium Ink to see television screens.
Podium Ink’s success story started shortly after Elliot and Murphy graduated from college in 2005. They were graphic design majors at Northwest Missouri State and Iowa State University, respectively.
Their success was aided when fellow Mount Ayr High School graduate Chip Williams was hired as a public relations and marketing coordinator by NASCAR driver Kevin Harvick.
“Chip was hired,” Elliott said, “and he told Kevin (Harvick) he had some buddies from Iowa that he wanted to throw some work at. So, initially we designed some press and media kits. We also designed the 8-1/2 by 11-inch autograph cards used at big signings.”
Harvick and his team liked their free-lance work, and, just like that their foot was in the door.
The confidence shown by Harvick’s team prompted Elliott and Murphy to decide — during a holiday break — they wanted to open a creative studio called Podium Ink in their hometown of Mount Ayr.
Initially, Podium Ink was a weekend and after-work project.
“Pretty soon, though, we were designing car paint schemes and graphics for Kevin Harvick Incorporated,” Elliott said. “We were designing the semi trailers that transported the cars, the fire suits for the drivers and crew members. The work was mounting up so we decided to quit our jobs and make a run at our own business.”
That decision proved to be a good one.
Over the past seven years, Podium Ink designs have been viewed by NASCAR fans on television screens across the world. NASCAR drivers who have run a car with a Podium Ink design include Bowyer, Harvick, Ron Hornaday, Bobby Labonte, Elliott Sadler and Burney Lamar.
Still today, the 5-Hour Energy car driven by Bowyer each weekend was designed by Podium Ink.
Podium Ink also creates designs for other motor sports including the truck series and motorcross.
Their work in NASCAR, initially, not only got their business off the ground, but also gave them credibility with other clients. That credibility led to more and more business.
Nothing shows their success better than their employment numbers. They started the business as a two-man show.
Today, they have five full-time designers and four part-time employees. They still do work for NASCAR drivers Harvick and Bowyer — especially between the months of November through January — but much of their work is done locally and regionally.
“We’re not short of work,” Elliott said. “That’s for sure. We always hoped we could be successful, but when we started this we didn’t know how we were going to do it. We wanted to be something the Mount Ayr community would look at and be proud of. We wanted to break the mold of being a traditionally agriculture employed community and be able to show high school kids there are a lot of different styles of employment out there. We hope we have accomplished some of those things.”
What is Podium Ink?
Podium Ink is a creative studio located at 105 E. Adams St. in Mount Ayr. It’s owned by Burton Murphy and Brad Elliott.
Podium Ink produces vinyl decals for application to almost any smooth clean surface. They specialize in full vehicle wraps used on delivery vans, trucks, buses, cars, storefront windows, office interiors, off road vehicles and more.
They also have apparel and printing service including custom artwork on a variety of apparel pieces such as T-shirts, sweatshirts, hats, coffee cups, full color banners, graphic wraps and more.