Paul Britten is President and CEO of Britten Inc., the nation’s leading provider of creative production services and large-format digital printing. He is also an architect.
In 1984, Britten was an architecture student at the University of Detroit when a friend suggested they enter a banner contest to win World Series tickets. They worked tirelessly, entered their hand-painted custom banner, and won the contest (and the tickets)—as well as an audience with General Motors’ Chairman Roger Smith, who commissioned a 40- by 100-foot banner from Britten that would hang at GM’s world headquarters! It would evolve into a lifelong relationship.
The following year, Britten completed his degree and landed an architecture job that took him to Washington, D.C. While working as a full-time architect, Britten continued moonlighting—promoting his newly-founded banner company, Britten Inc., and making custom banners and signs in his spare time. Only after he started making more money with the signs and banners than from his architect’s job, did he start to rethink his career path.
Britten had tons of creative ideas—like making a giant birthday card for the Statue of Liberty’s 100th birthday and hanging it in Times Square—some of which, like the birthday card, landed him big-time sponsors and big-time contracts—six-, and even seven-, figure contracts with some of the world’s most-recognizable brands. In 1986, Britten created a football field-sized, wide-format banner for GM—“Santa’s Sleigh is a Chevrolet”—which hung at the Chevrolet world headquarters and was featured in Advertising Age.
Though politics and corporate scandal eventually sent many of his big-time contracts up in smoke, leaving him temporarily disillusioned with corporate America, Britten had, by then, at the age of 24, officially caught the bug.
In 1987, he left his architect’s job to fully devote himself to Britten Inc. He turned his focus from the million-dollar “big idea,” to providing high-quality products and services to the promoters of sporting events. Word spread, Britten’s reputation grew, and the company flourished. Britten had found a market niche and, in the process, his calling—though he still thinks of himself as an architect. “Architects are creative problem solvers,” Britten is fond of saying. “We’re the folks who can’t rest until we find the perfect creative solution. This is who I am, and this is how Britten operates. We are excited and enthused to provide creative solutions for each and every one of our clients.”
It’s just this enthusiasm that has helped the company to become the industry’s market leader, providing full-color, large-format digital printing solutions for many of the nation’s premier venues, events and global brands. In 1993, Britten relocated the company to his hometown of Traverse City, Michigan, where he lives with his wife Darcy and their seven children.