NW SIGN INDUSTRIES
The Credit Junction is proud to work with great businesses across the country. Hear from Ronald Brodie, CEO of NW Sign Industries, to learn about how the company has grown since he founded it in 1991, and how The Credit Junction has helped along the way. Click here to hear the full audio of the interview.
ABOUT NW SIGN INDUSTRIES
Founded in 1991, Ronald Brodie has grown NW Sign Industries from a one-man shop into one of the largest premium sign manufacturers in the country. With cost-effective solutions that do not sacrifice aesthetics, NW Sign Industries provides an unparalleled service experience from conception through completion.
Learn more at http://www.nwsignindustries.com/
TCJ: Tell us a bit about NW Sign Industries and the products and services you offer to your clients.
RB: NW Sign is a national sign company. We primarily focus on banks, casinos, what I call ‘architectural projects’ – airports, stadiums, healthcare, hospitals and the like. We’ve been in business since 1991. NW stands for ‘Neon Works’. I was a neon tube vendor in another life and early on in the 90s I realized that there was a huge opportunity for a commercial sign company to fill the need in the financial services market with a high-quality product delivered on time. There was a lot of ‘best effort’ in the industry back then, maybe even still now. We were different. We hired the mechanics to do the best quality work and we got it done on time, no matter what.
We grew from two guys and a pickup to just a couple of years later, we did the first of the major conversions for us with Summit Bank, before doing Fidelity Bank and First Fidelity, First Union, which became Wachovia, which became Wells Fargo. We were their partners all the way through that. Changed an awful lot of signs in a 10-year period. Same thing for Chase and Mellon Bank back in the day. Whatever you can think of in the financial services, we’ve done the top 40 or 50 of them, and still count ourselves as strategic partners to them.
We are a very high-quality minded on-time company, and I’ve attracted employees that think likewise. We either do or we don’t, there’s no in between. Best effort means nothing, and any of my employees that you talk to will tell you that. Trying hard, really hard means nothing to me. Get the project done – that means something.
TCJ: What was the business issue that you were looking to solve when we first started speaking?
RB: Access to capital. We just didn’t have enough cash to grow the company. It’s literally that simple. The sign business is a business in which you pay for labor and material up front, and you wait until the customers repay you, which can be 30, 60 or 90 days. You need to be able to float that. That was our biggest challenge. That $3M-$5M in order to grow in to a $20M top line company by the end of the year. We actually did that in 8 months.
TCJ: What were you looking for in a financing partner?
RB: Someone who would take the time to learn our business. Figure out that we are a manufacturer, but not a manufacturer that makes widgets. We make signs, and every sign is generally different, and works differently. Every customer of ours is different, and has different needs and our financing package had to match that. The Credit Junction was exceptional at that.
TCJ: How did you weigh the various options available to NW Sign?
RB: We had other financial partners make us offers. To be blunt, the one lender I was working with kept pushing me in your direction and we had a meeting with you guys and came away with the idea that this was the right company for us. You took the time to get to know us, as opposed to try and put in a cookie cutter lending solution which frankly would not have worked for us. They would have been disappointed in us, and we would have been disappointed in them. You went out of your way to figure out ‘how can we get them the most money in the most direct way.’ And obviously it worked like magic.
TCJ: What did the capital allow the business to do?
RB: We had the sales, we just didn’t have the capital to hire additional people, buy the materials, and crank the machine up. You made the loan, and our receivables jumped from $800,000 to $2,000,000 in the coming months. It is directly attributable to that loan. You gave us the ability to hire and buy materials.
TCJ: What have you found to be helpful about the process with TCJ?
RB: It’s easy for me – I talk to Andy [TCJ Account Executive] a couple of times a week and I’m out the door. I know for the rest of my team, it’s pretty simple and pretty straightforward to ask for an advance. There’s a formal process if you would, but it really just starts with a phone call. I know from my days at PNC, I would have had to fill out a form which would have went to somebody who would have went to somebody. We damn well better give them a weeks’ notice, or we were going to be in trouble. You guys were pretty understanding of a couple of last minute line advance requests.
TCJ: How would you describe your interactions with the team at The Credit Junction?
RB: They’re awful people. Awful. [Laughs] I’m kidding, obviously. I found the team to be professional, willing to listen and understand, and bend over backwards to do whatever we needed them to do. I can’t say enough good things. This is a lender I’m talking about. There’s probably not many people who’d say that.
Everybody there has been first class. They have to put up with me on a daily basis, they’ve taken the time to learn about the business and work with us and adapt to us. There’s not a week goes by that I don’t tell Joe [Contoller at NW Sign] the amazing difference it is working with Andy [TCJ Account Executive] versus some of the people that I’ve had to work with in the past. He listens, and he hears, and he understands. He gets us, and that just doesn’t happen. There’s a real push inside your organization to get the right people in the right places and they should be commended.
In 27 years in business, I’ve dealt with a lot of people and I really do feel that The Credit Junction is an exceptional team.
TCJ: Would you recommend TCJ to another business owner?
RB: Yes, of course. Highly recommend them.
TCJ: We pride ourselves on our technology. How would you describe your experience with our technology and portal?
RB: As far as I know, it’s seamless. I don’t hear a lot of complaints from our team. I think the portal works, it has been about as seamless as it comes.
TCJ: You've been with us for almost a year. What would you change about your experience with The Credit Junction?
RB: I don’t really have any complaints other than the cost. The cost is considerable. Now, I have to tell you – it’s the best money I ever spent, obviously. If in 2018, we can do something with that, I’d be even more grateful.
TCJ: Any parting thoughts?
RB: The best thing I can say about you guys is that you guys saved us. That’s why you hear me being so appreciative. Obviously, I’m not being paid to say that, but I really do believe that. Your investment, your trust in us allowed us to produce $20M worth of revenue, a pretty decent bottom line, and a better life for everyone who works at NW Sign.
I can’t thank you guys enough because you were directly attributable to our rebirth. I can point to you guys and say, ‘because they trusted us and they made us this loan, we were able to come back and improve ourselves again’ so I’m very appreciative.
ABOUT THE CEO
Ronald Brodie founded NW SIGN INDUSTRIES (formally Neon Works, Inc.) in 1991 in his garage as a specialty neon shop. At that time, several long-established Philadelphia sign businesses had closed, leaving a significant need for high quality sign manufacturing, installation and customer service. Having grown up in the sign business, Ronald seized the opportunity to use his Drexel University education and his sign experience to create a full-service custom sign company that would set the industry standard with his passion for excellence.
Nearly thirty years later, NW Sign Industries has grown into a multi-million dollar company with facilities in New Jersey, Texas and Florida.
Interview conducted by Mac Trivedi, Head of Financial Partnerships at The Credit Junction.