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Steve
12-14-2007, 05:52 AM
Here is a story on the founder of FastSigns. Maybe Tony will appreciate this story. If you click on the link below you can watch a clip of the show he was featured in.

It's very fascinating to see that he didn't invent the sign creation process of using computers, but he saw there was a niche that was under served and he jumped on the opportunity to harness the new technology to perform a job which used to take quite a bit longer.

FastSigns (http://search.smallbusinessschool.org/video.cfm?clip=1792) - In 1985 when Gary Salomon saw how a computer was being used to make high-quality signs in hours instead of days. He jumped at the opportunity to build a business offering this service internationally. Today his company, FastSigns, is America’s leading sign company with over 500 locations worldwide.

The first thing we learn from Gary is that you do not have to invent a product to own it. When Gary first saw the technology he is using today, he struck a deal with the inventor; he learned how to use it; and with vision and sweat equity, he now dominates his marketplace.

Steve
12-15-2007, 11:45 AM
Some information about FastSigns from http://www.fastsigns.com/company.html

# Established in 1985
# Founded by Gary Salomon and Bob Schanbaum
# Initiated franchise offering in 1986

How amazing is it that they had their first franchise within a year of getting started!

Steve
12-15-2007, 12:03 PM
Here is an interview with Gary. Very fascinating to listen to.

A one on one interview between Franchise Business Review's President Eric Stites and FASTSIGN Internationals's Co-Founder Gary Salomon. Listen as Mr. Salomon discusses how this franchise opportunity has grown to over 500 units world-wide and responds to questions about how much money a franchisee can make.

Interview with Gary Salomon, Co-Founder of FASTSIGNS International (http://www.franchisebusinessreview.com/Advice/Interviews/Franchise%20Business%20Review%20-%20Interview%20with%20Gary%20Salomon,%20Co-founder%20FastSigns.mp3)

Other Business Podcasts here (http://www.podcastdirectory.com/podcasts/18069)

Steve
12-15-2007, 12:07 PM
Here is an interesting article of Gary from 1992

Reading the signs of the times - American Fastsigns (http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_m1154/is_n4_v80/ai_12105911) - Sometimes, what matters most to an entrepreneur is the substance of a

business**the product or service it offers. Other times, it's the building of a business that really counts, and the nature of that business is secondary.

Gary Salomon is an entrepreneur of the latter kind. He is the co-founder and chief executive officer of American Fastsigns, a Dallas-based franchisor of shops that use computers to produce signs in one day or less. An operator enters the specifications for a sign**lettering and artwork**into a CAD (computer-assisted design) system, and the sign's components emerge, cut from vinyl and ready to be applied by Fastsigns to almost any surface, including the sides of vehicles.

Salomon, 36, is still largely a stranger to the technology his franchisees use; he is not someone who owned a little sign shop and decided to build on its success by franchising. Before he started Fastsigns, he was in the direct-mail coupon business in Austin, Texas.

A native of New York City, Salomon got into the coupon business when he was 24, with a freshly minted degree in finance from Colorado State University. After a few months as a salesman in San Antonio, he became, he says, "the youngest licensee" for Val-Pak, a national direct-mail coupon company, with the rights to sell coupons to local businesses all across southern Texas.

"I did extremely well," he says. "But after six or seven years, I got a little bit bored with it."

He tried his hand, more or less successfully, at other businesses, but he didn't hit on what he wanted until a friend, an Austin businessman named Bob Schanbaum, told him about seeing a computerized sign shop.

Salomon's forte is marketing, and he found the sign shop appealing from that standpoint: "You could have all the benefits of what a good-quality retail location would provide you, in exposure and convenience, but the business was focused enough that you could develop an outside sales program."

In 1985, Salomon and Schanbaum decided to test the market by opening a store in Dallas, a larger and potentially more lucrative market than Austin. If the store had $15,000 a month in sales after a year, they agreed, they would open a second store, and they would decide after that how to expand further.

They hit their goal in three months, and within a year the Dallas store's sales had topped $25,000 a month. Salomon and Schanbaum opened two more company stores, but they decided that route was too slow: Their business was based on readily available technology that competitors were sure to pick up, and it was important to expand quickly.

So Salomon and Schanbum went into franchising, in December 1986**just in time, Salomon says: "The assessment that the window was going to close was accurate." The field is now crowded with competitors, including one that is almost as big. "The ongoing challenge," Salomon says, "is to separate them from us," mainly through the intensive training and marketing support that Fastsigns provides to its franchisees.

Fastsigns has more than 150 franchised stores open now, and its systemwide sales grew from almost $18 million in 1990 to around $30 million in 1991. Salomon moved to Dallas in 1988, and he now runs his growing company as its sole owner; Schanbaum died of cancer in 1989, at the age of 37.

Fastsigns mirrors Salomon's interests, in that it does not require franchisees to be computer whizzes**in fact, Salomon prefers people who don't "want to be left alone with the computer." He does want "technically minded people" in the stores, but as employees, not as owners.

"They don't really have to have any understanding of the technology," he says of franchisees. "What they have to have is the desire to market, and the understanding of how to manage people. Once they're making signs more than they're marketing, they've hurt their business."

Steve
12-16-2007, 11:14 AM
Here is some more interesting information

FastSigns Int'l. Inc. (http://www.entrepreneur.com/franchises/fastsignsintlinc/282341-0.html) - In 1985, print broker and catalog developer Gary Salomon visited a computer shop in Austin, Texas. Impressed with how quickly the shop was able to produce vinyl signs, he decided to open a signmaking shop of his own. Salomon and partner Robert Schanbaum convinced the store’s owner to train them on the new technology and signmaking techniques. In exchange, they promised not to open a competing business in Austin.

The partners opened their first store in Dallas later that year and began selling franchises in 1986. By 2000, the company had more than 400 stores making banners, architectural letters, vehicle graphics and signs for windows, yards and buildings.

Steve
12-16-2007, 11:19 AM
Here is a press release of FastSigns partnering up with a cyclist to raise money for MS.

Sometimes doing good for your community also helps your business. Does this partnership give you ideas on things you could do with your business to help a cause and promote your business at the same time?

FASTSIGNS® GOING THE DISTANCE WITH CYCLIST IN BATTLE AGAINST MS (http://bizjournals.bison.com/press/pr5-2fast.html) - As cyclist Nick Irons pedals through 29 states over the next four months in his personal fight against Multiple Sclerosis, he'll take FASTSIGNS along for the ride from start to finish.

The nation's leader in the computer-aided sign industry has signed on as a national sponsor of "Going the Distance for MS," a 10,0000-mile national bike tour featuring Irons.

The goal of the tour, which kicked off April 3 in Rosslyn, Virginia's Freedom Park, just across the Potomac River from Washington, DC, is to raise $3 million to combat MS, a chronic degenerative disease of the central nervous system.

"We are proud to have the opportunity to help Nick Irons complete his national tour," said Gary Salomon, co-founder, president and CEO of FASTSIGNS International. FASTSIGNS will supply signage to promote the event nationwide. "We are confident that someday, the dream of a cure for MS will be realized. And we hope that our support will help that day arrive much sooner," Salomon added.