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A Full Service Sign Company -- Design -- Production -- Installation

Williams Signs is now part of Wee Engineering, Inc.


Williams Signs Inc.

October Small Business of the Month
Sponsored by Lafayette Savings Bank


Signs, signs, everywhere there are signs. And a good many of them were creatively designed and installed by Lafayette ’s home-based Williams Signs Inc. 765/448-6725, www.williamssigns.com.

You’ve likely spotted the Earlhurst sign on Union Street, Fairfield Manufacturing’s and Korschot’s. Williams Signs has also helped direct customers to Amazing Video, among countless more.

 Full-service Business 14 Years Old

Founded in 1991 as a part-time business, since 1998 it’s been the full-time endeavor of Norman and Ruth Williams. “We’re a small but full-service sign business,” Norm says. “We give true meaning to the phrase, ‘Mom and Pop’ business.” And this month, Williams Signs Inc. has been selected as the Chamber Small Business of the Month.

The sign business is a second career for Norm, a Purdue industrial management graduate who retired early after 32 years in marketing, advertising and sales at Fairfield . He came to the sign business via a hobby interest he and his son shared in radio-controlled models and a desire to help their children get first-hand business experience.

“We started out supplying vinyl lettering to the model industry, with computer-cut vinyl that attached to models,” Norm says. “We also wanted to give our kids a chance to experience the real world of free enterprise, so our daughter and son worked for us.” Julie was then 12; Chad, 15. 

“It did everything we wanted it to in terms of giving them an understanding of the quoting process, customer service and all those issues,” Norm says.

Their children have since graduated from Purdue and gone on to careers of their own, leaving “Mom and Pop” to run the business full-time.

 Advising Clients in Sign Choices

“Our strong suit is our ability to sit down with clients and understand their needs,” Norm says. “They may say, ‘I want a sign.’ I ask, ‘What do you want the sign to do?’ I work through the advertising process of it. One of my business cards says, ‘Sign Consultant,’ and that’s what we do.”

Norm oversees all sign design and installation, sometimes bringing in additional help when it’s time to put signs up. Ruth handles the business and administrative end, and assists with ground-level applications, saving the ladder climbing for others.

“We use lots of different materials. And we stay current with the rapidly changing technology,” Norm says. “We never miss training sessions at sign shows held each year. It’s an entire universe in itself.”

He’s also taken classes locally. “I’ve found Ivy Tech to be a good resource. I’ve taken some computer-related courses there, and I’m taking Photoshop this fall.”

 Serving Multi-county Area

About 80 percent of the company’s business is within a 20-mile radius of Lafayette, with some also in Monticello, Indianapolis, Kokomo and Danville, Ill.

One of the company’s most challenging jobs was re-identifying a Monticello plant after it was acquired by Emerson Industrial Automation. “We were in charge of getting the Emerson name everywhere—outside the building, in the lobby, in the interior,” Norm says.

The company’s newest endeavor is what they’ve dubbed “online signs,” creating informational websites for clients.

 Community Volunteers, Too

As young parents, both Norm and Ruth were volunteers in scouting. Today, Ruth is active in church volunteer work and Norm has been involved for several years with Junior Achievement. He’s also on the board of trustees for the Delta Epsilon Fraternity, which creates volunteer opportunities for both of them.

Self-employment has been a great experience in this community, Norm says. “Networking is the backbone for growth of our business and its stability.”




Nominate a Small Business!!

The Small Business of the Month Award is open to Chamber members who own or co-own a business that has 25 or fewer employees, been in business for a minimum of three years, and the business or it’s owner has a history of community involvement.  Nominations may be submitted to the Chamber of Commerce for consideration by the Small Business Selection Committee.  Nomination forms are available on the Chamber of Commerce website or call the Chamber, 742-4041 .  All monthly winners will be eligible for the Small Business of the Year Award presented in January.  

The Small Business of the Month is sponsored by Lafayette Savings Bank.