Jeff Heuchert, Gazette staff
Jeroen Oosterom has made a living advertising other people’s companies. Now he’s taking the time to do the same for his own.
On Wednesday, Oosterom and his sales, design, and production staff officially opened the first formal base of operations for Trench Marketing Projects Ltd. a short walk from the downtown at 162 Erie St.
The old two-storey home has been fully renovated and converted into a reception area, work stations, and production room. The upstairs has offices that Oosterom would like to rent out to entrepreneurs much like himself.
Started by Oosterom eight years ago, Trench Marketing is best known for its variety of inflatable advertising materials like furniture, giant character and product replicas, and interactive displays. Some of its past clients include the National Football League, Coca-Cola, the Much Music Video Awards, and Sleeman Breweries.
Oosterom said two of his more memorable projects were a 100-foot long inflatable football field for the 2007 CFL Grey Cup and a 40-foot high inflatable cake for the Calgary Stampede’s 100th anniversary last year.
With today’s technology it’s never been easier for a start-up to build a brand that is globally competitive, and while Oosterom knows that as well as anybody, he is hoping the additional exposure granted by the new location will lead to more local business, which he admitted hasn’t always been his first instinct.
“The focus now is on building a rapport with Stratford and area, and to be able to help out the local clientele here,” he added, noting he recently signed a contract with Mornington Communications and will be sponsoring the Stratford Blues Ribfest, providing inflatables, banners, and print products.
And he hopes that’s just the start.
“We do a fair amount of business all over North America, but it’s always been done kind of in the background,” Oosterom said, noting he was most recently driving back and forth between rented office space at the 3rdRail Society in the upper floor of the VIA Rail Station in Stratford and his production operation at his home in Gadshill.
“But with the purchase of the building here, and being more central and having design and print capacity on site, it makes sense to have a more local offering,” he added.
Trench Marketing was founded by Oosterom after he and his wife Angela moved to the area from Montreal. With previous sales and marketing experience with companies like Nike, Philips, and Grolsch Premium Lager, Oosterom had no intention of competing with the larger marketing firms in the GTA. Instead, he focused on developing a small company specializing in one large, if not oversized, idea – portable and promotional inflatables.
Oosterom’s first client was a company in his native Netherlands that was interested in trying some air-filled advertising.
Over the years he has also developed a line of products to complement his primary source of revenue, expanding into firbreglass replicas, flags, canopies, vehicle advertisements, print materials, and promotional gear and apparel.
The company also offers repair and maintenance services, installations, and storage.
“We still do an awful lot of anything that is inflatable; that’s our secret,” he added. “But rather than be limited to a product line we try to be a full service supplier.”