Byron West was in the printing business before transitioning into the sign business in 2002. He says the businesses have a lot in common, but he particularly enjoys selling signs and being part of the collaborative process it takes to create custom signs.
West began his sign career with TriMark Signworks and now works for Hutchinson-based Luminous Neon.
Q. How is the sign business like the printing business?
A. It was basically the type of sales that I had been used to, which is relationship sales. In the sign business, you work very closely with the customer on their signage, and many times – especially if it’s a company that owns multiple locations – you work with them over a long period of time and develop a solid business relationship.
Q. Why are signs important to businesses?
A. You’re giving them a very important product for their business, especially for small business. Most people realize the importance of signage. That’s part of my job, to educate them on signage.
Most people who own a business, who have a storefront, realize that a sign identifies them and defines the type of business they are and is a way to advertise and attract the general public.
Q. How has the business changed through the years?
A. Well, with computers it’s changed a lot. In the old days, signs used to be working sketches. … The layouts and sketches were hand drawn or cut and paste. … Technology advances made it more automated … and in many cases you can communicate through e-mail … and you can get information to your customer much faster.
Q. What are some of your favorite signs?
A. Murdock Theatre. … That is a nostalgic-looking sign. We have a lot of border neon on it, and it looks very much 20th century.
The old Pepsi bottle cap sign at the Pepsi bottling plant at 47th and Broadway is probably 50 years old. That is a neat-looking sign.
When I first got into the sign business, we had one of the original McDonald’s Mr. Speedee signs. … That was their, like, mascot before Ronald McDonald. They had a lot of neon, and their signs were made out of porcelain. … The company had held onto it for many years. We sold it to a sign museum in Indiana.
Q. What’s one thing few people know about you?
A. When I was an undergraduate … I was originally going to be a lawyer. … I really didn’t have a passion for it, and I realized it.
I have a passion for signs. I do. I love the business. I love the creative process. I love seeing customers satisfied with the end product. I love to be driving around and see some results from our company’s efforts.