Pinnacle Sign Group owner and President Darren Pearce took the reins in early 2008 and has helped the company grow its client base by 35 percent.
Business Spotlight: Time of the Signs
Leaders at Pinnacle Sign Group say they’ve reached new heights, and a job at Springfield-Branson National Airport has much to do with it.
In 2009, employees completed a more than $1 million airport project that Pinnacle Sign owner and President Darren Pearce considers a turning point for the company.
“It gave our team the confidence that we could handle such a large project and gave our customers confidence as well,” Pearce says.
Pinnacle Sign was a 2011 Springfield Area Chamber of Commerce Small Business of the Year finalist, topping off a three year effort to transform the 134-year-old company from a sign manufacturer into a full-service, one-stop project management sign company with an emphasis on service.
Some of its most recognizable recent projects include a rotating marquee for Daytona’s Fast Tune & Lube Inc. and signage for Price Cutter’s downtown Bistro Market.
Pinnacle recorded a 43 percent increase in revenue in 2008, the first year Pearce took over the company, and it has achieved double-digit growth since, he says, declining to disclose the numbers. Pearce says the company is on pace this year to exceed 2010 revenue by 15 percent.
A long history Pinnacle Sign Group opened its doors in 1877 as Savage Sign Co. and was owned by the Savage family until 2002, when it sold to Mark Galloway and Chris Braun.
Pearce is a Springfield native. His father, Dale, owns The Carpet Shoppe, which Darren Pearce served as company president for a period. The younger Pearce also worked for AmeriPride Linen & Apparel Services in Springfield, Albuquerque, N.M., and Topeka, Kan.
He also was president and managing partner at American Products in Strafford. “It was always tough dealing with sign companies, and I joked if I had a sign company, I would model it after a service business,” Darren Pearce says.
In 2007, Pearce heard Pinnacle Sign Group’s owners were seeking to sell, and he purchased the company for an undisclosed amount and took over as owner/president on Jan. 1, 2008.
“We immediately went from a manufacturing business model to a service business model,” Pearce says.
One of the first actions Pearce took was reorganizing the employee base, reducing the work force to 15 employees from roughly 20 and including project managers with construction and service backgrounds. “I kept a talented group of sign experts and built people who had expertise in project management and construction,” Pearce says.
As Pearce rebuilt the Pinnacle team to its current 27 employees, he also insisted that all staff be cross-trained in all of the jobs. “We can mobilize into a very large force if one area needs help,” Pearce says.
No T-shirt slogans To further incorporate the service model into the company, Pinnacle holds daily morning staff meetings.
“I don’t lead these meetings, but I’m a participant,” Pearce says. “We go over all of our projects on our project management board and outline what has to get done that day.”
At the end of the day, employees report on the progress. “We don’t have any mugs or T-shirts with sayings on them, we truly live this model,” Pearce says.
Springfield architecture firm Butler, Rosenbury & Partners Inc. has conducted business with Pinnacle for decades. Partner Tim Rosenbury says he has noticed the push toward the service model.
“There also seems to be a greater commitment to quality and coming up with solutions, no matter the type of order,” says Rosenbury. “(Pinnacle) just completed the signs for The Watershed Center, which were only approved a few days before the ribbon cutting. Pinnacle understood the importance of getting the order on time and came through.”
Pearce says Pinnacle’s client base has grown by 35 percent, concentrating on multifacility clients such as Great Southern Bank, Price Cutter and Liberty Bank. One of the latest projects Pinnacle completed for Liberty Bank was replacing a sign damaged in the Joplin tornado.
Pearce says about 65 percent of the company’s revenue comes from multifacility customers, 25 percent is derived from long-standing businesses and 10 percent of its business comes from small businesses.
Pearce says revenues grew by 10 percent in 2009 and 25 percent in 2010.
With the exception of two U.S. Small Business Administration-backed loansthrough Liberty Bank, Pearce says all of the funds he invested were private dollars. “I have made my investment back, but all of the earnings we are generating right now are being put right back into the company,” says Pearce. “It is a very strict strategic plan we have for the next two to three years.”
Pearce says he also hopes to finalize the purchase of the company’s 22,000-square-foot headquarters from Wayne McMurtry later this year.[[In-content Ad]]