This is a special month for us here at 12-Point SignWorks. We’re very proud to announce that we’ve been in business for 10 years! We’ve come a long way in that time. Many of our current employees weren’t working at 12-Point back in 2009, but two people were here to witness it all: owners, Laurel and Murray Johns.
I sat down with Murray to ask why he and Laurel started 12-Point and how the business has grown over the years. Here’s what he had to say:
Angie: So, you and Laurel opened 12-Point SignWorks on April 1, 2009. What made you want to own your own custom design and build sign shop?
Murray: I had a strong desire to work with people in the local community. My previous career in engineering was focused on customers outside of Tennessee. I looked at several different types of franchises and small business opportunities, but I finally decided to go into the sign industry. It’s a great match for my personal interests, because it combines my construction and engineering background as well as my love for working with my hands and with people.
Angie: You started with only one employee. How does it feel to have 16 now?
Murray: I feel very blessed, because the 16 people I currently work with are great people as well as great team members. It’s amazing to me to see what has happened to us now that we’ve grown to the point that we’re able to provide for that many families. With the depth and talent we have in our current team, we’re also able to do some really exciting projects!
Angie: I’ve seen photos of your family helping out at the shop back in the early days. What role have they played throughout the years?
Murray: Although their involvement has slowed down, they have always been a significant support for me. Whether they’ve worked only a few days or summers, they’ve always been my cheerleaders at home. I’m sincerely grateful for Laurel’s support and for the kids’ willingness to pitch in!
Angie: What types of custom products did we offer back in 2009, and how have the products evolved over the years?
Murray: Our very first job was a set of sponsor banners for a local athletic association, and it just started to grow from there! We’re now travelling across the nation installing branding graphics in large buildings on multiple floors with complicated coordination. We also got involved in vehicle graphics right from the beginning. That has evolved to where we now handle wrap production and installation of fleet graphics both locally and nationally.
Angie: What’s the largest object we’ve wrapped?
Murray: We recently wrapped barricade construction walls outside retail spaces at a mall in Paducah, KY. This job included the installation of 66 vertical panels, covering 3,960 square feet!
Angie: What’s the farthest location we’ve shipped a sign?
Murray: Kona, Hawaii for facilities in an international hotel chain – now we just need to make an excuse to go back and make sure they’re still looking good!
Angie: You place a strong emphasis on web marketing. Why? How many blog articles have been published by 12-Point over the years?
Murray: We’ve found that people are able to identify us as industry experts no matter where they’re located using the Internet. Rather than only relying on local sales efforts, we use the Internet to accomplish a national reach. To date, we’ve published 988 blog articles! We enjoy highlighting what we call the “Project of the Week” to share a bit about a customer and their project in addition to more generic articles that are relevant to the markets we serve in the sign industry.
Angie: I know there’s a lot of meaning behind the logo and name 12-Point. Does that meaning still hold true today?
Murray: Yes! The logo has evolved over the years, but it still represents the 12 Points of the Scout Law, which serves as a personal compass for me regarding my morals and personal interactions. And we discuss these values as part of our company culture. We try to use that compass and those principles to make business decisions about the markets we serve, our customers and our vendors.
Angie: The shop has changed over the years as well. Can you describe how the shop looked in the early days, how it has transformed and maybe give our readers hints about what’s happening today?
Murray: During the past 10 years, we’ve evolved from having a few pieces of manufacturing equipment and 2,200 square feet of shop and office space. Now we have double the space with a large amount of equipment and capacity. We continue to look strategically at equipment that adds to our capabilities. In addition to our production and assembly space, we’re making efforts to keep things well organized and clean and also to represent in our space the kind of work we do for our customers, including our own facility branding. It’s exciting to see what our team comes up with to help improve the facility’s appearance and to show off some of our unique capabilities!
Angie: What are the biggest lessons you’ve learned? What advice would you give a new owner of a similar type of business?
Murray: I’ve learned that having the right people on your team is critical for business success, personal happiness, and enjoying coming to work everyday. For anyone considering an entrepreneurial endeavor, make sure you’re okay with risk, and that your family is also okay with risk. We’re not too proud to say that coupons and thrift stores became good friends to our family! You also need to be willing to make personal sacrifices and work hard all the time for the sake of the health of the business and for the families that depend on the company’s success.
Angie: From a business perspective … when you look back, what makes you most proud?
Murray: I’m really proud of the “WOW” that our team has accomplished on multiple projects over the years, especially our current team. This is important to me, because I care deeply about the level of satisfaction our customers have with our services and products.
Angie: Now that you have this huge milestone under your belt, what are your plans for the next 10 years?
Murray: I realized a long time ago that everything we make will eventually end up in the landfill (which is a bit of a sobering thought!), so I had to ask myself “What’s our purpose?” I concluded that the longest lasting impact 12-Point can have is to help each team member become a better version of himself or herself as a result of working at 12-Point; we want to see our team become better leaders in their homes and communities. I want to see our impact on the facility branding industry continue to grow at the national level – we love that kind of work! We’ve been very blessed and have been able to give back to the community in various ways, helping to sponsor events and providing services at discounted rates or as free contributions, so being able to continue that kind of giving is also important to us. Thank you, family and team – here’s to 10 more years!
Congratulations on your 10 year anniversary, Murray and Laurel! All of your co-workers here at 12-Point want to say thank you so much for creating a business with integrity and heart! We’re extremely proud to work for you and look forward to many more years creating cool stuff together! 🙂