A Family Owned Business
“Each of us will be forgotten within four generations,” says Tom Underhill founder of Creative Continuum. His company specializes in completely custom-designed, short-run publishing and family history heirloom books. “Our books preserve our client’s personal and family legacies for their families,” Tom says. “We provide publishing services for all types of books: novels, manuals, recipe books, photo exposes, children’s books, local histories, business books and many more.”
Initially created in 1996 as a graphic design company, Creative Continuum acquired Shumway Publishing from Cal State University history professor Gary Shumway in 1999. Over the past decade, the business has grown more than 10-fold and has also dramatically increased its visibility. “Initially all our clients lived in Southern California,” explains CFO Meri Underhill. “Today, we publish all kinds of books for people across the country.”
Notable clients include
- The late Carl Karcher, founder of Carl’s Jr
- Larry Chimbole, Palmdale’s first mayor
- John McNally, President Kennedy’s Staff Assistant and former head of the Small Business Association
- Guenther Rall, third-highest scoring World War II Ace
- Hartsell Wingfield, former president of TCBY Yogurt
- The Japanese-American National Museum
- Tamarisk Country Club, the first Jewish country club in Palm Springs
- Stan Cohen, Huntington Beach Wave newspaper columnist
The team has produced award-winning books, including 2007 Davey Award winner The California Missions As Art and 2005’s Best Family History in Texas.
The company has a strong outreach program to help people preserve their life’s story. Tom has presented several hundred lectures on publishing, scanning, interviewing and life story writing at local, regional, national and international venues. He has presented at the Utah Genealogical Association’s annual conferences and at the Federation of Genealogical Societies’ national conference in 2005.
As a family-owned business, Tom and Meri’s children invest time learning the business by scanning photos, manning the booth at trade shows and helping with presentations, answering phones and providing general office help. Three of the children have published books for the company.
- In 2007 Amanda published her first book, The Kite That Wanted to Be Free. She met with the client, pitched ideas, scanned and digitally colored the client-provided illustrations and worked with her dad on the final book layout. “She went head-to-head with our client,” reminisces Tom. “She spoke like an authority on children’s books.” Amanda adds: “The following year, I went back to school and had a real story for the ‘what I did this summer’ essay—I published a book!”
- Oldest daughter Jan has published a number of books including Ralph’s Song and several other titles currently in production.
- Ammon has scanned and adjusted photographs, illustrations and paintings for books including FrogDog. Tom taught a beginning publishing class at Ammon’s school where he took part in writing and publishing The Gate Book.
As each of us contemplates our lives, we review events and experiences that have shaped us and people around us. After all is said and done, what can you really give your kids and grandkids that will really make a difference? The car? The house? The bank account? We provide an avenue where your life story can really change another life. “We provide people with a means to do something that is relatively unavailable to them,” explains Connie Underhill, Tom’s mother and office manager. “We publish heirloom-quality books that last for generations.”
While we’re in business to keep a roof over our families, the smile and gratitude we receive from our clients is why we publish these books. At the end of the day, we look around at what we’ve done and we can honestly say we’ve made a positive difference in our clients’ lives.
California Libraries 2004 Calendar is a 28-page, 11"x8.5" book with spiral bound calendar binding published in 2003.
SCGS Genealogy Jamboree 2006 Syllabus is a 154-page, 8.5"x11" book with paperback binding published in 2006.
Autobiography of Barbara Beebe is a 202-page, 6"x9" book with library edition hardback binding published in 1999.
Bringing Our History to Life is a 160-page, 8.5"x8.5" book with library edition hardback with printed cover binding published in 2011.
A History of Heber Bowman Hawkes and Emma Celestia Anderson is a 306-page, 7.75x10 book with library edition hardback with a color printed cover binding published in 2006.
Footsteps of the Messiah is a 840-page, 6"x9" book with mass market hardback binding published in 2003.
A History of African-American Families and Slaveholders in Cass County, East Texas is a 453-page, 8.5x11 book with library edition hardback with a color printed cover binding published in 2007.