Today I begin my 51st year in this wonderful creative business we are all in......seems like just yesterday I got started by cementing those little blue and red Florida Plastic 1/2" letters onto a 2" x 24" strip of white acrylic for the McDonald's menu boards we were producing at Plasticraft (formerly Pensacola Neon Sign Co) Manufacturing Co. in Pensacola at 3 AM to have that Menu Board on the truck that was leaving at 6 AM to deliver the complete sign package to a new location somewhere in the Southeastern US. We made over 450 sign installations for McDonald's and many of them are still being used and still working. Moving into the sales end of the business came naturally to me and I went on to join Everbrite in 1971 as their regional sales guy in the Chicago area and throughout the Midwest handling major accounts like Sears Roebuck, Meister Brau Brewing Company (Later bought by Miller Brewing) and major agency accounts like Phillip Morris and R J Reynolds through a couple of major advertising agencies such as Leo Burnett (Marlboro) and BBD&O (Kentucky Fried Chicken) and others. In 1974 I joined American Sign and Indicator Corporation (Spokane, WA) as the District Manager for the Midwest Region. The new and exciting concept of displaying Time/Temperature and Message Center Signs fit right in with the electronics training I had received while serving in the US Navy during and after the Korean conflict. I was their numero uno Salesman for at least three years during my 7 years with them.
I bought into a small company in 1981 in the Chicago area and became an "Owner" of a sign company with all of it's trials and tribulations. We grew quite rapidly (seems like some weeks had two Fridays though) as financial matters was not my long suit, but somehow we made it through those tough days and just when it seemed we were on our way to real success the Desert Storm war hit and business just stopped. I tried real hard to outlast that recession but just did not make it as Innovative Industries, Inc. My former partner passed away and the IRS went after his estate so I was left with only two choices, work for them or toss them the keys. I opted to shut it all down and opened another company with the help of some friends in the business as Sign Central, Inc. as a supplier for many local companies as I had one of the first and largest CNC (Cyber-mation) router tables in the area. My client list grew and grew and we had successfully transitioned in to our role as a subcontractor to many local and regional sign companies.
In June of 1993 a major health problem surfaced. I had a six way heart bypass surgery and almost ended my problems here on this earth. A miracle happened and with God's gracious hand he healed me. It took me most of two years to sell my company and I retired to Florida to live out what life I had left. That turned out to be almost 12 years of living in the sunshine state and still keeping my hand in the business by selling signs for a local Fort Lauderdale firm.
My wife passed in 2006 and it became quite lonely down there. After two years I decided to relocate to my Hometown of Aiken, South Carolina where I had many relatives. Trying to avoid boredom I decided to continue selling signs for one of the local sign companies in Augusta, Georgia (17 Miles from Aiken) and have been here since. Still doing what I love to do in the most remunerativly and creatively rewarding business there is.
I hope I have not bored anyone with this bit of my personal history but I finally wrote it all down. I have had a wonderful life through God's Grace, I re-married six years ago and I enjoy every precious moment that I live and I am so grateful for the wonderful people I have met and/or worked with over those years. I hope that they might feel the same way about me. Just in case some of them might read this, my email is EddieL@finufsign.com. I would love to hear from any of you and share some other moments and memories.
Eddie Larsen, Sales Manager - Finuf Sign Co., Inc. - Grovetown (Augusta), Georgia