DURHAM – They blended their workplace experiences to launch a dream. Now nearly a decade later their vision could be establishing their Durham entrepreneurial venture as a leader in the post pandemic office marketplace.
Meet wife-and-husband team Cathy and Rudy Hofknech, who founded Neu Concepts in 2011 and operate it as managing partners.
“My husband, Rudy and I started the company in January 2011,” Cathy tells WRAL TechWire.
Their firm wasn’t the result of opposites attract but a combination of overlapping experiences.
“I had over 25 years in technology marketing in the digital and 3D imaging industries when we started, having held leadership positions where I focused on identifying market needs and launching new products,” she recalls.
“Rudy had spent an equal amount of time in the trade show industry. His experience spans account and project management, booth design, site supervision, shop management, booth fabrication and cabinetmaking.”
They launched Neu Concepts with a focus on trade shows, including some nifty designs for Cary-based Epic Games and Durham-based Cree. But as the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic devastaed industries like trade shows …. well the couple and their team decided to expand their product line.
“As we have grown to a staff of 24, we have added a shop foreman with over 30 years of experience in the exhibit industry, a number of skilled cabinetmakers, production team members with experience in custom marine and furniture production, a creative services team, and several seasoned exhibit industry professionals,” Cathy recalls.
“Collectively, we are a group of creatives and craftsmen who take pride in creating attractive and functional physical spaces and digital experiences for our clients.”
So Neu Concepts – with the help of a Paycheck Protection Loan that enabled them to keep all their 24 employees – did a reboot.
And they didn’t have to please any outside investors, givng them freedom to make the switch.
“My husband and I own the majority of the business,” she says. “In addition, our Director of Operations, Director of Creative Services and Account Management and Director of Business Development also own shares.
“We are completely self-financed, having invested our savings to start the business. We have reinvested to grow the business and never had the need to take on any outside funding.”