As a third-generation owner of a family business, Casey Valiant has learned much along the way. He’s used that knowledge to continue to build upon a business that was started by his grandfather and continued by his parents. Along the way, he’s also learned to pay it forward.
Valiant is the franchise owner of Signarama Evansville, located at 1300 N. Royal Ave. The family business began in 1957 when Valiant’s grandfather, Arthur, founded a rubber stamp company serving the tri-state area. In 1985, Valiant’s parents, Walter and Debbie, took over the business and diversified into signs. Twelve years later, they converted to Signarama, the world’s largest sign franchise that provides a full range of comprehensive sign and graphic services to both consumers and commercial customers.
The 38-year-old Valiant, who has worked with his family on a fulltime basis since 2006, said his parents discovered Signarama by responding to a newspaper ad.
“After being a rubber stamp company for decades, we knew the business environment and we knew the B2B world. We just weren’t very good at making, marketing and selling signs. After researching the top sign franchises, Signarama felt the most like us. They are truly a family business. They are flexible and they allow us to succeed as entrepreneurs,” said Valiant, whose parents became Signarama franchisees in 1997.
Valiant said neither he nor his two older brothers were pressured to join the family business while growing up. Valiant earned a degree in computer graphics from Purdue University and spent almost three years as a 3D modeler, developing high-tech flight simulators for the military and commercial airlines while employed at Evans & Sutherland, a pioneering firm in the computer graphics field. Valiant also owned his own website and graphic design business.
However, Valiant is certainly pleased with his family’s decision to join the Signarama franchise network. Of all sign stores combined internationally, Signarama today makes up 80 percent of the sign franchise market.
“Signarama has been a splendid franchisor, but the thing that has helped us the most is the other franchisees,” Valiant said. “There’s nothing like rubbing elbows with other professionals who know all the tricks, who can encourage you because they’ve gone through similar situations, who can commiserate with you because they’ve suffered the same defeats, who can celebrate with you because they’ve enjoyed the same successes.”
The Valiants certainly took what they learned and put it to good use. In 2014 they were inducted into the Signarama Hall of Fame as recognition for their marketing and record sales volume. It is the only Signarama award voted on exclusively by previous “Hall of Fame” inductees.
“It’s always humbling to be a recipient of such an honor,” said Valiant, whose parents are entering their 30th year of being in business. “Our amazing team works incredibly hard and I love that the entire Signarama organization recognizes their talent and dedication.”
The Valiant family gives back to the community by participating in Signarama’s Signs of Support Grant Program, which was begun by a franchisee in Louisville, Ky. The program, in its fifth year, allows local civic and charitable organizations to apply for free or reduced-cost signage to help spread the marketing message of their particular organization.
In 2016, Signarama will provide 25 Signs of Support Grants to eligible organizations within a 15-mile radius of their Evansville location. The deadline for applications is Dec. 19.
“Many local non-profits don’t have the time to develop great marketing collateral and signs. They are busy helping the homeless, clothing those in need, protecting animals, celebrating veterans, caring for widows and orphans and so many other things,” Valiant said. “We found that these non-profits really do make the world go ‘round and for us to step in and help them with something they need and something we are good at has been a tremendous blessing.”