Mixing it up…from the in the Mix Archives — Articles of Interest from past issues of in the Mix
June 2nd, 2022 | By Don Billings, Publisher ITM and Founding Partner of IMI Agency
I have reached back into the rich 33-year history of IMI Agency and extracted several subjects of interest. One such item is the magnificent 24-foot long by 8-foot-high mural that adorns a wall in our corporate HQ office located in Woodstock, Georgia. To passersby its’ presence tells a visual story, each piece symbolizing the growth of IMI over the years.
As many of you may know, IMI was born in Irvine, California back in 1989. As the company grew, new opportunities arose, and in 1996 we were working on several marketing promotions for Allied Domecq around the Olympics which were being held in Atlanta. I was spending a lot of time in the city and eventually decided to move IMI’s home base to a suburb of Atlanta, Georgia.
With continued growth, we found ourselves needing more space. We were fortunate to come across a new commercial office building and purchased two units that we renovated into one main office space.
Business continued to increase and in 2004 we opened our magazine, at the time we called it IMI Drinks. By 2006, the publication had grown into a full media business focused on the on-premise national accounts beverage industry, and we decided to change the name to in the Mix.
During this same period in 2004, we helped develop and oversee a new non-profit charitable organization. This organization worked to provide and foster support to families in the Food & Beverage hospitality industry who had children in great need, due to medical conditions and other issues. This organization is now known by many as CORE, which stands for Children of Restaurant Employees (www.COREgives.org). By 2006, with the enormous help of other trade related companies, CORE had become widely acknowledged as the only true non-profit exclusive to our industry.
I felt it was time to make a commemorative gesture to celebrate our success. In the fall of 2006, we commissioned artist, Summer Viljoen, to paint this mural in honor of the second full year of CORE and new office expansion. The mural symbolizes IMI’s expansion within the industry as well as the company’s transition from being a solely USA based firm to a global market participate. We decided to include a Parisian Café scene within the mural to highlight the people, food & beverage, and entertainment in the social expression that you see on the wall.
Within the upper righthand corner of the mural, you will notice the inclusion of the painted CORE logo. I know, you are right, it doesn’t look the same as the one CORE has today. Originally, CORE partnered with the Make-A-Wish Foundation, as they were a well-recognized non-profit that worked on behalf of children. So, the swirling star was a node to them.
After several years had passed, we eventually broke away and became a self-sufficient non-profit. Since the swirling star was part of their logo, we changed our logo to the CORE heart, and it remained the CORE logo until just recently when a fresh new heart logo was introduced giving the logo a more focused look for the hospitality industry.
I have enjoyed recounting this journey of growth, and now you too know the story told through the mural of IMI.
Note: The Mural’s Artist Summer Viljoen, www.fineartamerica.com