Meet the Women in Print: Lauran Wang
After buying Mustang Signs at the age of 22, Lauran Wang revolutionized the shop with new ideas and millennial employees.
Accomplishments: Selected as a member of the inaugural ISA Elite class; Avery Dennison wrap certified and received a Digital Signage Certified Expert designation (DSCE); active member of the Northwest Sign Council
Lauran’s dedication to process improvement and investment in technology has helped the business grow exponentially. Nearly all of the employees at Mustang Signs had no background in signage, and the average age in the firm is 27. Lauran has been able to bring millennials into the signage and manufacturing industry and inspire long-term career vision and opportunities for them.
–Patricia King, executive director, Northwest Sign Council
Your website reads: “We’re not just pretty faces. We have the certifications to back it up.” As a millennial, female entrepreneur in the print industry, what advice do you offer to others aiming to enter (and thrive in) this predominantly older, male-run industry?
My biggest advice would be to stay curious and work hard. The biggest disadvantage I had coming into the industry was lack of experience and more importantly, lack of mentorship. During the first few years I learned to do everything the hard way... lots of trial and error, lots of waste, lots of wasted time. As much as I tried to Google it and find books, there really is no replacement for experience. I realized that I couldn’t afford to wait 15 years to gain the experience I needed to run a good sign company.
Eventually, I just picked up the phone and started calling other companies. I asked them to help with problems I had; I asked for advice; and every time I went on vacation, I found a local sign shop to drop in on and ask for a tour. It eventually became a very high priority for me to go out of my way to be curious and find others who were willing to help me on my journey. Finding good relationships and networking with other “sign people” has made a big difference in my growth over the last several years. We also found any opportunity we could to get industry training and certifications.
Why do you place such an emphasis on hiring/training millennials, and what steps are you taking to attract a younger workforce to your shop?
Being a newbie in this field and in a leadership position when we initially started, I probably only felt comfortable managing and leading people in my own age range. As I started to develop my leadership style and began building our team, I found that I really enjoyed working with other millennials. They were passionate, dedicated, and excited about the culture we were creating. I believe we were attractive to employees because we are a growing company; they were required to step up every day, take on new responsibilities, and get a chance to watch the direct impact of their efforts in creating tangible products that made our clients happy.