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Booming Business After Great Recession

CROSSROAD SIGN STUDIO OPENS SECOND LOCATION

“We’re growing, hiring, buying building, moving and blowing up our lit sign and fleet graphics segments,” wrote Jeff Thomas, co-owner with his wife, Kim, of Crossroad Sign in Lynnwood, Washington. He sent this email note in September last year, while negotiating for the purchase of a new building to house a second location for his business. Thomas is a baby boomer, with eight years of sign shop ownership under his belt. He represents the aspirations and acumen of an entire generation. The term “baby boomer” refers to Americans born between 1946–1964, when the United States experienced a marked, sustained rise in birth rates following the end of World War II. For those who chose to hang their shingle in the sign industry, a booming business now rewards their hard work.

As the fastest growing commercial sign company in three counties,” explains Thomas, “our team simply needed more space. This Mill Creek location just three blocks east of I-5 is super convenient and highly visible to clients in Lynnwood, Edmonds, Mountlake Terrace, Shoreline, Mukilteo, Everett and Marysville.

When Thomas purchased his original sign shop in December of 2008, he was not thinking about the economic viability of this business in Washington. He also could not know of the devastation to follow for our national economy, labeled The Great Recession.

In October 2010, 16 months after the official end of the recession, the economy still had 5.4% fewer jobs than it did before the recession started. This was the slowest recovery in our nation’s history. For Thomas, like many entrepreneurs that chose to launch their businesses in 2008 or 2009, the path forward was a test of character and of the will to succeed.

Smart moves on the part of Thomas paid off: The company opened its new studio this year on 164th Avenue SW across from Martha Lake Park. The building was purchased last year by Jeff and Kim Thomas exclusively for use by Crossroad SIGN. After months of preparation, the official grand opening was held on Wednesday, March 28th, with local business leaders and elected officials in attendance.

Exponential Growth

The company also maintains a showroom on Main Street in Bothell, near where it was founded in 2002. After six consecutive years of growth, they are on an accelerated upswing.

Some of the smart moves made by Thomas include offering a valuable e-book to business professionals, as part of the grand opening strategy. “28 Ways to Make Your Business More Visible” is a free e-book available from Crossroad SIGN of Mill Creek and Bothell. The book illustrates how small business owners can stand out better in today’s busy marketplace. It is available free on the company’s website: CrossroadSIGN.com

Across North America, sign professionals now talk of very brisk business – a reflection of the industry’s value and resilience. And in Snohomish County, Washington state, a rising tide of economic prosperity has been raising up entrepreneurship. 20% of the workforce is in manufacturing, the highest volume in Washington State.  Further support for the visual communications industry is the county’s technical workforce, which boasts the second highest concentration of technology workers in Washington State.

National Recognition

The President of Sign Biz, Inc., Teresa M Young, affirmed her belief in March this year that the one trait she has recognized in all successful entrepreneurs is “a default attitude of calm positivity.”  Young said this during the opening address for the Sign Biz International Convention in Florida. She also showed slides of Thomas’s new building and signage installation. “Jeff and Kim have earned the respect of not only the Sign Biz family, but also of his entire business community, staff and family, for what he has accomplished. We are inspired by our community of entrepreneurs, and this business story represents the aspirations of many. We congratulate Jeff and Team for their brilliant execution, growth, and positive contributions!”, added Young during her address.

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Crossroad Sign

Crossroad SIGN provides business owners and property managers with design, permitting, installation and service for lighted signs, digital signs, car and truck wraps, banners, A-boards and other commercial signage. Tower crane signs were recently introduced. A third online division will open later this year.

For more information, contact Chris Eng at Crossroad Sign, 425-481-9411

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When Disaster Strikes

When tragedy brings down a community, that same sign can remind us of what was, and what could be again.

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True Colors Come Shining Through ImageLife

Something that designing men have discovered is that a visual communications business fits their artistic sensibilities. That was the case for Michael Martini, a very successful corporate executive and chief bread-winner for his four kids – ages 6,8,11, and 12 – and for his wife, a woman who works hard at home to maintain the good life in Tennessee.  Michael, with a degree in Industrial Engineering and 27 years at a Fortune 500 company leading business segments, was a man that began to sense he was more than a cog in a machine. He kept seeing something more engaging outside the corporate box.

“I’ve always had a passion for good color, great logos and design. It started as simply appreciation for the power of images,” he explained. So early in 2014, Michael set out on a journey of exploration but kept his day job. He began exploring options, and discovered the sign industry’s depth, complexity and versatility. This was a business that could harness the vision that was beginning to take shape in Michael’s mind. The image of a business that served up graphics without limitations.

Immediately, like so many other would-be entrepreneurs, he recognized that he did not want to simply “wing it.” There is no guidebook, no map or set of instructions for any man or woman who one day wakes up, literally and figuratively, and wants to take on the challenge of business ownership. That is why research plays such a large role – especially early on – in the quest for a new business, and a model to follow.

In time, Michael found a solid partner with three decades of experience and the structure he envisioned for his business. He found Sign Biz, Inc. After extensive due diligence, a few months into his journey to entrepreneurship, he signed on the dotted line and boarded what would be a six month roller coaster ride of site selection, name selection, logo development, business plan tweaking and site build-out planning.

imagelife-sign-shop-interior-space-plan-color_480x299Years of strong managerial acumen came to bear, and as the weeks progressed, Michael brought his vision to life – ImageLife – a shining example of what a visual communications business can be. As he picked out colors for the walls of his new lease site, strenuously examining the pallets and using a Sherwin Williams online color rendering utility, his sense of purpose clarified. Image Life would be an extraordinary sign business, offering high-impact and even rare images for any wall, any surface, and any floor. The shop began to take shape as Michael trusted in his vision and direction. He attacked his mission statement with the same sense of purpose, until there was clarity. He knew he was in this business “because images impact life!”

His business opened officially in February of 2015, and his Grand Opening Celebration took place on April 1st. Since opening, the journey has continued to be rewarding. Michael won “Best in Show” in the Ace of Space competition judged in Las Vegas, NV at the Sign Biz International Convention just two months ago. See his winning entry here on YouTube for some true inspiration.

The authentic life of an entrepreneur is one that fulfills and challenges Michael, allowing him to build on his business experience while at the same time giving him the chance to celebrate what it means to let true colors shine through. Michael Martini can be reached at ImageLife Signs and Graphics, 921 8th Ave South, Nashville, TN. Phone: 615-970-6200.

Representatives from the  Nashville Chamber, Small Business Development Center, friends, family and current customers joined in the Grand Opening celebration on April 1, 2015.

Representatives from the Nashville Chamber, Small Business Development Center, friends, family and current customers joined in the Grand Opening celebration on April 1, 2015.

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Four Exciting Shop Design Trends

If the Fortune 500 can do it, so can you! You may not have thought about an era or design style before embarking on your shop’s vision and culture representations inside and outside of your space, but this approach is certain to add clarity and speed the “de-clutter” or remodel process. By defining your “brand appeal” in terms of well-recognized design influences, you can make your shop tell your story with greater clarity and impact. If the Fortune 500 can do it, why not you? Here are tips and four inspired designs to get you started. Have fun!

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3V Signs & Graphics Gives Back

(Torrance, CA)– The L.A. Wolves FC announced today that it has signed a sponsorship deal with 3V Signs & Graphics (www.3VSigns.com) a Sign Biz Network Member located in Hermosa Beach, CA. The L.A. Wolves and 3V Signs & Graphics will work closely together to foster awareness of and interest in local soccer teams. L.A. Wolves FC ™ is a Pro Development Soccer Club based in Torrance, CA. The Wolves are a current member of the UPSL (www.upslsoccer.com) and compete in the UPSL Western Conference.

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Sign Biz Member Mustang Signs Becomes Wrap Certified

(Kennewick, WA) — Graphics film manufacturer, Avery Dennison, in Mentor, OH, announces that 28 graphics installers have achieved Avery Dennison Car Wrap Certification across the US and Canada in 2014. The certification is a two-part test that includes a written exam and hands-on vehicle wrap installation demonstration.

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Three from The SignMan Win Sales Consultant of the Year Awards

(Orlando, FL)– This year’s Sign Biz International Convention was one in a million, or actually, one in 25, celebrating the 25-Year Anniversary of the worldwide organization. 2014 also marks the 18th annual Sign Biz Sales Consultant of the Year Awards (SCOYAs). The SCOYAs spotlight the talents and successes of the country’s top sales producer in the Sign Biz Network, the sign industry’s largest chain of non-franchised sign companies. According to attendees, this event hosted in Florida just after the conclusion of the world’s largest sign tradeshow, the ISA Expo, was deemed “perfect.”

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Historic Project Truly Sparkles After Sign Magic

(Tucson, AZ)– Sign Magic partnered with the Tucson Historic Preservation Foundation this past summer to bring another one of Tucson’s historic signs back to life. This sign is located at the original Sparkle Cleaners at 16 W. Drachman. Drachman became a hot spot for restored historic signs in March of 2012, when the Historic Preservation Foundation joined forces with Pima Community College.

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3V Signs & Graphics Provides Vibrant Visuals for Infant Patient

(Hermosa Beach, CA)– Local business owners, Pat & Stefanie Dacy, of 3V Signs & Graphics, jumped at the opportunity to provide Baby Alex with some vibrant color for his dull situation, creating and installing a bright and playful graphic wrap onto his plastic helmet that he is required to wear 23 hours per day, in order to correct a medical condition called Plagiocepholy.

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Sign Biz Conversion Program for Sign Shops and Printers is First Choice

(Kinston, NC)– After extensive research and with a laser-like focus on quality and reputation, one of North Carolina’s most respected printing companies selected Sign Biz, Inc. as the first choice partner for their foray into a full-service sign business. Scott Bowen, who with his brother Craig owns the 63-year-old business known throughout the region as Corporate Resources, saw the need to embrace signage as critical to the future of their company. Already with four divisions – OfficePlus, PrintPlus, CopyPlus and PromoPlus – adding SignsPlus was the next logical step.

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Building Street Cred With Vehicle Wrap

Featured in Signs of the Times magazine, Sign Biz Members in Monterey, CA have fashioned a moving statement about their brand – literally. Using a Roland VS-640 printer and 3M’s Controltac IJ180-10Cv film, the 160-square-foot wrap was installed in a single piece over the truck bed. On the doors, the installers positioned seams at the base of the window post.  “This was our ugliest truck, so we had to give it a thorough washing,” explains Tom Carr, the owner of SignWorks, which created and installed the graphics.

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Elite Sign Gives Texas Tech Stadium Spirit

(Lubbock, TX) Although Lubbock is only the 11th-largest city in the Lone Star State, with roughly 300,000 metro-area residents, it’s known as The Hub City because it’s the largest urban area in the Texas region known as the South Plains. Thus, its economic significance is greater than its sheer size would indicate. It’s the home of the Buddy Holly Center – which honors the Lubbock native and “Father of Rock Roll” – and Texas Tech Univ.; both make tourism an important cog in the local economy.

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ArtCraft Sign Studio Gets Fired Up

(Pine Hill, NJ)– Since its opening in 1989 as one of the earliest Sign Biz Member locations, Artcraft Sign Studio has enjoyed tremendous growth – so much so that it purchased its city’s former firehouse because it required a large production and service area for vehicle wraps and other digital graphics. Shop owner Arthur Elkins says window graphics represent roughly 5% of its business.

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SignWorks Talent Comes Through to Save the Day

Owned by Tom Carr since 2010, SignWorks is a full service sign company that opened under the Sign Biz program in 1993. The prior owners, Jerry and Esta Holden, had a plan when they brought Carr on board to manage the shop. They planned on selling the business to him. “We just hadn’t told him yet,” says Jerry with a chuckle. But Carr, being talented and astute, was very interested. And so in 2010, he purchased the business and took the reins.

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West Mountain Sign Grand Opening is Picture Perfect

(San Jose, CA)– Kelly Yamanishi comes to the sign industry with over 20 years of high-tech marketing experience with a high-profile Silicon Valley corporation. With this experience, she brings an in depth understanding of complex project management, marketing communications, and many types of “corporate speak.” In short, she knows how to help her clients communicate effectively with both business and non-business audiences.

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Sign Biz® Trained LobbyPOP® Pro Moves Avis into Dynamic Signage

(Hermosa Beach, CA)– When Robert Gutierrez of Avis Rent-A-Car Operations visited 3V Signs, he was looking for a scrolling LED sign system to use for employee communication at the LAX location. Having worked as a HR professional for over 10 years, Stefanie Dacy (co-owner of 3V Signs) is quite familiar with the challenge of keeping employees informed. She also had formal training by Sign Biz, Inc., a sign industry developer, in signage solutions of all types.

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