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Open for Business with Pinnacle Custom Signs

On Friday, October 23rd, Don & Theresa Conklin had the opportunity to be interviewed on Open for Business, sponsored by the Gwinnett Chamber of Commerce.  This is a monthly radio show hosted by Mike Sammond of Gwinnett Business RadioX that highlights and celebrates many of the top businesses and community leaders that help shape Gwinnett County.

Don & Theresa Conklin during their interview on Open for Business, Gwinnett Business RadioX
Don & Theresa Conklin during their interview on
Open for Business, Gwinnett Business RadioX

Both Don and Theresa have appeared on the show in the past, but this was the first time we were interviewed on a show together.  We had the opportunity to talk about our business, how we got started and what sets us apart.  Below is a small excerpt from the interview.

RADIOX/MIKE: Great to see you guys. Pinnacle Custom Signs, for most business folks in Gwinnett, we’ve heard of your company, tell us about your company, when you got started, and what you offer.

THERESA: Okay. We are a full-service commercial sign company, family owned, family operated, our two youngest sons work with us on a day-to-day basis, and we provide all types of commercial signs – from as simple as banners and yard signs to the more complex signs such as indoor signs in an office building as well as outside lighted signs, channel letters and vehicle graphics.

RADIOX/MIKE: I’ve heard the story before, told by both of you, about how you decided to get into the business. I think it is a great story. Why don’t you share that story?

DON: Well, we were obviously working in corporate America and I’ve always wanted to be not responsible to anybody, so we kind of looked at some… different businesses and looked at signs and Theresa was like, “Why Signs?”, and I told her that “Everybody needs signs, even if you are going out of business, you need a ‘Going Out of Business’ sign.” And when people ask me why the sign business, the answer always is… “It’s the only business Theresa would say yes to.”

RADIOX/MIKE: We’re talking with Don & Theresa Conklin with Pinnacle Custom Signs…  You talked about your children. Talk about the culture that you have there at Pinnacle Custom Signs, it’s very unique.

THERESA: It is, because we try to foster a family environment. Not only do we have our two sons, we have several other employees that we absolutely love working with.

RADIOX/MIKE: You don’t make them feel like black sheep or anything like that?

THERESA: No, we try extra hard not to…  But, everyone is well aware that they are part of the succession plan for us; that when we are ready to retire and go sit on the beach somewhere in 10 years, they’re the ones we hope to be running the business. So, they are learning it from the ground up.

RADIOX/MIKE: Don cringed when you said 10 years. I think Don’s thinking maybe two or three years, right, before you’re on the beach.

DON: Actually, it’s interesting. When you’re in corporate America, you’ll say, “I’ll have enough money to retire when I’m 58 or 59.” But, running our own business, my financial planner asked me the other day, “so what’s your retirement date?” My answer was, “I’m having too much fun right now to even think about retirement. Maybe it is in 10 years, maybe 8 years, maybe 15. Who knows?”

But, to kind of piggyback on what Theresa was saying, we have nine employees right now, actually, we have 10 including the shop dog, who’s on the website. But, four of the nine are named Conklin. So, it is really interesting when you bring an individual to grow that organization, because we started with two people, how they culturally fit. You wouldn’t think with nine people, cultural fit is an issue, but, it really is, because people have got to have the same work ethic that you have – have the same sense.

We set ourselves apart in the sign industry by providing excellent customer service. And, what that means is that whatever it takes to please the customer, we’ll do. That sounds like blocking and tackling, and good common sense in business, but it not true in the sign industry. Some of the established, and well-run sign companies like us, Sign-A-Rama Buford who are good friends of mine, that is always prevalent. But with the smaller sign companies, you don’t see the follow-up and follow-through from that standpoint. So, we want to make sure that people know to go the extra mile for our customers when they are on-site, when they are doing installations, when they are doing design, that they are doing all that stuff…

Open for Business | Gwinnett Business RadioX | 10-23-2015
October 23, 2015 Open for Business. L to R: Mike Sammond, host of Gwinnett Business RadioX, Theresa & Don Conklin, owners, Pinnacle Custom Signs, Garret Abdo, owner Atlanta Comedy Theater and Eric Boxer, owner Tapout Fitness.

RADIOX: You’re in a competitive business, so you have to… it’s almost required that you go that extra mile because there are so many sign companies out there right now so you’ve got to separate yourselves.

THERESA: Well, one of the things we had in mind when we did start, was to make sure we did focus on customer service. Even though we were in corporate America, and we really didn’t touch customers, per se, in our corporate jobs, we learned how to do customer service internally. And, so, we both brought that focus to our company when we opened it and made sure that was part of the culture we wanted to instill in our place.

The above was only a small part of the interview.  To hear it in its entirety, play the following link.

Don & Theresa were joined on the show by Garret Abdo from Atlanta Comedy Theater and Eric Boxer from Tapout Fitness.  To listen to the entire show, and find out about these two businesses, click here.