Meet the Women in Print: Allison Kast-Eichenberg
Second-generation Signarama Chandler owner balances tradition with innovation.
Accomplishments: Member of ISA, Arizona Sign Association, and three local chambers of commerce; serves on the Franchise Advisory Council for Signarama Corporate/United Franchise Group; winner of multiple Signarama awards; consistently maintains Signarama Chandler's status as one of the top five Signarama franchises worldwide
Allison’s work pushes the industry forward because of her leadership in the space. She exemplifies all that is required to be a good steward in an industry. She works hard to train and lead a qualified team, and she ensures her business remains relevant by being an active member of her industry trade association.
–Patti King, executive director, Arizona Sign Association
As a second-generation owner, how do you balance tradition and new ideas?
I’m very aware that my company was built on the shoulders of hard-working, tenacious, and innovative people: my in-laws. They truly formed that heart of our company, helping to create a culture that values integrity, responsiveness, and innovation. Signarama Chandler was built with a “yes, we can do that” mindset that focused on answering every call and email as quickly as possible. We work hard to continue that tradition while also finding new ways to connect with our customers. We believe that it’s a privilege to work with our customers and it’s our job to help make their dreams a success, whether that’s starting a new business or promoting an event.
During our transition, my mother-in-law said to me, “The hardest part of all this is watching someone take care of your baby (the sign shop) differently than you. They change it different and feed it different, but the baby is still being taken care of. While it feels wrong to me, I can see that it isn’t wrong – it is simply different.” There is no question that my husband and I are different people than my in-laws, but ultimately we all have the same goal and vision: building a company that we can be proud of, that’s growing, and that’s making a difference in our community. Our core leaders told us that they don’t believe my husband and I could have grown the business the way my in-laws did, but they also believe that my in-laws would not be able to take us into the future the way they believe my husband and I will. We have a focus on growing a strong team, as we’re only as good as our staff and we believe in empowering them to help us reach our full potential. We’re excited to continue to see the ways our company will flourish, change, and find new and creative ways to help our customers grow their business.
What’s the best piece of advice you’ve received pertaining to the wide-format industry?
The importance of asking questions. Our job is to help our customers and in order to do that, we must learn to ask good questions and really listen. There’s much opportunity to be creative and to help businesses in many ways, but we must first start with understanding what our customers’ needs and wants and goals are in regard to their project. Secondly, surround yourself with good people who think differently than you and can challenge you. If you aren’t careful, you will get into a rut with running your business and never see beyond the next project, so it’s important to surround yourself with good employees, good peer groups, and good mentors. In order to offer our customers the best, we must focus on becoming the best so we have the best to offer them.
Something I’m really proud of that I helped start at our company is our Signs of Hope grant program. Every year since 2011, we’ve donated between $20,000 and $35,000 in signage to help local nonprofit and charitable organizations. Since then, we have donated more than $200,000 in signage! We are excited and honored to partner with them and help them grow their mission and redirect funds from signage to their programs and research.