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Speedy Signs & Apparel Wins Prestigious Business Award
Speedy Signs & Apparel was recently honored with the Greater Cincinnati African American Chamber of Commerce’s 2011 Small Business of the Year Award for businesses with five or fewer employees.
Owned by Waughney Yarrell, this innovative sign and custom apparel firm is located at 2486 E. Sharon Road. Speedy Signs is a locally owned, independent company that makes all types of exterior and interior signage, embroidered and screen printed custom apparel, vehicle lettering, banners, trade show displays, A-frame signs, vehicle lettering and other large promotional items.
“I was happy and gratified to receive the African American Chamber’s Small Business of the Year award,” Yarrell said. “Speedy Signs & Apparel is a growing company that takes pride in quality work and dependability. With all of the long hours and headaches you go through in business, it was wonderful to be recognized for excellence in this way.”
Peter McConney, who was a member of the African American Chamber’s 2011 B2B Award’s selection committee, said, “Speedy Signs & Apparel has stellar business performance and solid business practices, including the benefits and training Waughney provides his employees.”
“But what put the company over the top for me was his commitment to the community,” said McConney, whose own company Premier Mail & Fulfillment won the Emerging Business of the Year Award in 2010. “His company sponsors several youth organizations and participates in the intern program at Brown Mackie College. He was also instrumental in establishing the monthly meetings for alumni of the African American Business Development Program, to help grow and develop local minority businesses. He does a lot more than just work in his business. He supports the community.”
A Fulfilling Second Career
Yarrell started Speedy Signs & Apparel in 2003, a few years after retiring from a 30-year career at Cincinnati Bell. He started his career as a residential telephone installation technician, and after completing an Administrative Management degree at the University of Cincinnati, he became a unit supervisor of installation technicians.
He left Cincinnati Bell in 1999, just as the whole telecommunications industry was changing. He felt it was a good time to take early retirement and try his hand at business ownership – something he had dreamed of doing since childhood.
“I was fascinated by Henry Ford and the development of Ford Motors. My father worked on the assembly line at General Motors too,” Yarrell explained. “I always wanted to go into business for myself, to do some kind of manufacturing. I’m able to do some of that manufacturing now – creating the corrugated plastic, aluminum and acrylic signs and embroidering the clothing – but without the huge overhead.”
Speedy Signs started out as a one person shop, with Yarrell doing everything from creating banners and screen printing T-shirts to answering the phones and sweeping up at night. His staff has grown to four now – himself, a full-time sign maker, a part-time screen printer and an administrative person.
Business Development Program Key To Growth Spurt
Yarrell said his business has grown sharply since 2009, when he entered the intensive nine month African American Business Development Program of the Urban League of Greater Cincinnati.
He credits his current business success and receipt of the Business of the Year Award to hard work, diligence and the business support he has received. The assistance he’s gotten from the AABDP; his Urban League business coach Sheila Mixon; and the business mentor he was paired with through the African American Chamber of Commerce have been invaluable.
“I was paired with Dave Kroger, owner of PEP Marketing Services, and we meet once a month to go over business strategies. We go over the business’ financial statements to chart trends and to set monthly and yearly goals.”
Utilizing his business support network has resulted in winning ideas that have increased profits. “Sheila was responsible for my hiring a full time employee. I had two part-timers, but I was still doing most of the work myself. Now I have a full time sign maker with 20 years experience. Since I am freed up now to prepare more bids and do more networking, it’s resulted in new business.”
Yarrell went on to say, “It was Dave’s idea that I drop promotional items as one of our core products,” he said. “We looked at the numbers, and profit from that area of business was low. We still sell custom T-shirts, polo shirts, sweatshirts and caps, but we’ve dropped the small promotional items unless someone requests them.”
Future plans for Speedy Signs & Apparel include adding a Northern Kentucky location and growing the staff.
“I started eight years ago, out of an apartment in a four family apartment building in Bond Hill,” Yarrell said. “Now we have a 3,000 square foot facility with a `cherry picker’ truck and several vans. I’m excited about our continued growth and creating more jobs in the community as we expand.”
Contact Waughney Yarrell at Speedy Signs & Apparel at (513) 531-1919 or visit www.SignsApparel.com .
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