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Insiders look at Arlene Sullivan
Asheville, NC Arlene Sullivan, owner of Asheville Signarama along with her husband Ed, continue to build successful business here in Asheville helping supplying great signs in their service to the community.
Arlene’s career began as a chef working for Stouffer’s Hotels in Pennsylvania. From Stouffer’s she moved to Colonial Williamsburg, where she was the restaurant manager. It was there that she met Ed Sullivan, who was teaching printing to handicapped adults. “We met at the racket ball club and regardless of the stories you hear, it was during the tournament that I beat him” Later I moved to Richmond, VA to become the regions restaurant manager. Ed Sullivan knew that Arlene was the one for him, so he followed her to Richmond.
In Richmond, Arlene ran the test kitchen for the regions restaurants, creating new recipes, sampling others and recreating them for use throughout the regions restaurants. In 1982 Arlene and Ed married.
Moving to Raleigh, NC Arlene took over the food service at the Museum of Art. After her many years in the restaurant/food service industry, she decided to move into a new career path. Working for American Airlines, as an inside sales agent, her talents for helping to serve people continued to grow. With the birth of her son, she decided to go part time. When she knew she was having twins, she decided to stay home and raise her three children.
Ed had the opportunity for a new job in Greensboro, NC so they moved from Raleigh to Greensboro. When the girls started Kindergarten, Arlene decided to return to the outside work force. From selling advertising for the local newspaper, and then as a AAA travel agent. In 2007, Ed decided to start his own business, and a small local printing service was launched. “It was very similar to the ‘coffee news’ people know and love here.” However, Ed was offered a new opportunity which he took, leaving Arlene to run their first business. “Unfortunately, due to the economy, we decided that we had to close it down. After this AAA approached me so I began working with them again on a part time basis.”
Ed was also tired of the printing industry. So together they looked for a new venture. After much consideration, they decided to first choose where they wanted to call their new home - and as they had always loved Asheville and the natural beauty of the area, this became their focal point. “It was easier then to see what the area needed and as we didn’t want to be in the printing industry.” With their combined backgrounds, they came across the sign business. “The Signarama model was attractive and the more we investigated, the more we thought we could do this, so Asheville Signarama was born.”
On March 13th, 2011, Ed & Arlene put their house on the market and it sold in 5 days. “We had to move to Asheville by the end of March because we were scheduled for franchise school on April 4th in West Palm Beach.”
Since opening Asheville Signarama, they have carefully grown a successful business. Their team now consists of full time sales, two graphic designers, installers and in-house technicians as they serve not only Asheville, but all of Western North Carolina.
“This has been personally very challenging for me and has ensured that I must grow into the role of CEO.” Her team can attest to this, as they lovingly call her the best boss in all of Western North Carolina (with Ed a close second). “Meeting, networking, promoting the business, are just some of the areas I never thought I would do. It’s also very funny that I am having to handle all of the clerical side as well, especially as I traditionally hated doing this in any previous role I had,” explains Arlene with a wry smile.
There is no signage job to large or to intricate for them to tackle. From vehicle warps on trucks down to the Asheville pedi-cab, they have it covered. With channel letters, LED signs, vinyl, indoor, outdoor and lots more. The team is also capable of handling street signage as well, ensuring that they meet the Department of Transport signage regulations.
“Becoming a part of the local community, especially the small business community was daunting at first, but its amazing to see how much I have grown to love the interaction it has given to me. What’s even more amazing is how we can positively help and impact the community to see it grow and evolve to meet the challenges ahead.”
If you haven’t met Arlene, then we’re sorry for you. The author of this article has personally known Ed & Arlene for over two years and is honored to call them close friends. Take it from me, take the time to meet both Arlene and Ed, and see why her team calls her the ‘best boss in WNC”
About Asheville Sign-A-Rama
Asheville Sign-A-Rama is Western North Carolina's full service sign company. Established in Asheville, NC 2011 as an independently and locally owned company, and is quickly becoming known as the place in Western North Carolina for all your sign needs. With over 100 years of experience in sign design, marketing, manufacturing and installation, they can tackle even the most difficult and challenging projects with spectacular results. “Our goal is to provide unparalleled service and expertise to our clients.” For more information, please visit http://www.signarama.com/
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