December 20, 2007 // Franchising.com // - SARASOTA, Fla —According to the Center for Women's Business Research (CWBR), nearly 10.4 million firms are majority owned by women, employing more than 12.8 million people, and generating $1.9 trillion in sales. As one of the first sign franchise companies, Signs Now continues to recruit and assist successful women business owners, with some of the top ranking franchises in the system under women ownership.
After spending nearly 24 years in the sign business, one of the company's original founders, Donna Driscoll, is still passionate about Signs Now and looks beyond the past and into the future for women in the Signs Now family.
"In the last several years, our women owners have an even higher chance for success," remarks Driscoll. "The company is making positive changes every year and continues to stay ahead of the curve in marketing and technology."
Driscoll opened the original Signs Now location in 1983 in Austin, Texas. She sold the original location in 1986 and has since been running a successful franchise in Englewood, Colo.
"It has been worthwhile and extremely satisfying staying with Signs Now throughout the years," said Driscoll.
For the past two decades, majority women-owned firms have continued to grow at around two times the rate of all firms. Jackie Ciresi and Julie St. Germaine, co-owners of the Rochester, New York Signs Now, have achieved steady growth in their business over the eight-year duration of their ownership. In 2006, sales increased 31 percent over the previous year, and 2007 sales are on track to match that increase, putting them in the Signs Now Top 20 for sales.
"On a national level, the economy is on a downturn and many companies are downsizing," explains Ciresi. "As a contrast, our business has posted positive sales numbers every year. We attribute our growth and success not only to our community involvement and networking, but slso to the Signs Now support system and the increase in digital technology."
In regards to technology and contrary to common perception, women business owners are as likely as men business owners to adopt new technology and more likely (24 percent vs. 18 percent) than women in general, according to the CWBR.
Kristin Trevino, co-owner of Signs Now Northwest (four Portland-area locations), is one of the top Signs Now franchise owners and continues to expand upon her equipment base and embraces industry technology.
"In the first half of 2007, our company served as a beta test location for the new OcÄ— Flatbed 250GT," explained Trevino. "It was an incredible experience to work with one of only two machines in circulation."
In addition to serving as a leader in the industry, Trevino is also a prime example of a business woman giving back to her community. Her personal and financial involvement with the Portland-area "Dress for Success" organization has assisted hundreds of women achieve professional success, from business attire to resumes and job searches.
"As a professional and a woman, I am very passionate about doing anything I can to assist other women in the fulfillment of their professional dreams," Trevino said.
In addition to Trevino, several other successful Signs Now women franchise owners have made a niche for themselves in competitive markets with the help of upcoming technology. Lori Pastuszak, owner of the Lombard, Ill. Signs Now, has been in business since 1990. After a professional career in accounting and administrative functions, Pastuszak wanted to get out of the corporate world.
She has since grown her business steadily every year and tries to examine new equipment early on and be one of the first companies to get their feet wet, as it were.
"Adding new equipment, including a new UV flatbed printer, have been the best moves we have made in the business," explained Pastuszak.
Mary Jane Lessley, owner of two Memphis area locations and a Duluth, Ga. center, has added new technology over the years, but also feels the Signs Now business is an ideal fit for women. She manages the businesses with the help of her daughter, Lisa Williamson.
"There is available success for women in this business," remarked Lessley. "This is an ideal situation for women business owners, with regular business hours and a clean environment. The business gives you enough freedom to have your family unit and even involve your children in the future of the business."
Sandie Ridings, Signs Now training manager, echoes these sentiments. Her passion for the company began in 1998 as a franchise owner and regional manager in the Charlotte area. In 2001, she won the Rising Star Award for Women Business Owners in Charlotte from the National Association of Women Business Owners.
In 2003, she opened her own business, Training Matters, Inc. The focus of the operation was business training and development, including team building and corporate strategy. In 2007, she was named the Small Business Association North Carolina Women in Business Champion but made the decision to begin working with Signs Now again.
"I fell in love with this company when I was a franchise," remarked Ridings. "Signs Now really opens doors for women as business owners and gives them the opportunity to compete in a man's world and truly excel."
For more information on at (800) 356-3373, or visit their web site at www.Signsnow.com.
About Signs Now, A Division of Allegra Network LLC
As a leader and top innovator in the sign and graphics industry, Signs Now truly stands out in a crowded world. Signs Now has over 225 franchise locations across the United States, Canada and the United Kingdom. The corporate offices and the Signs Now Training Academy, Sarasota Campus are headquartered in Sarasota, Fla.
The Signs Now service base includes multiple solutions and digital imaging for outdoor and indoor signage, exhibit and vehicle graphics, magnetic signs, banners, window graphics, ADA signage, dimensional letters, directional systems and other visual communications tools to businesses worldwide. Signs Now grossed nearly $95 million in sales in 2006.