Chamber Names Sign Shop Owner the Entrepreneur of the Year
The number of entrepreneurs in Augusta continues to grow, but one stood out at the Augusta Metro Chamber’s quarterly member economic luncheon last week.
Lane Keen, founder of Keen Signs and Graphics, was named the Entrepreneur of the Year by the Augusta Metro Chamber of Commerce at the event, which drew hundreds of businesspeople and community members to the Marriott Convention Center on Thursday, Dec. 7.
“You’ve got to get out and meet people,” Keene said of his company’s continued success in an interview. “People like to do business with people they know.”
Keen Signs and Graphics has nearly doubled its business over the last three years, according to Jay Forrester, Augusta president of South State Bank, who introduced Keen. The company creates signs and graphics for various uses and surfaces, and offers several consultation and design services.
“They recently relocated downtown and are proud to be part of the revitalization of the downtown area,” Forrester said. “As entrepreneurs it’s not only important to focus on doing business and growing your business but also to focus on giving back to the community.”
Keen has served on numerous chamber committees, including the Red Carpet Showcase Committee responsible for organizing the annual event that showcases Augusta’s economic and business communities to CEO’s from around the world.
What initially inspired you to pursue a business in signs and graphics?
Keen: I was a production manager at the Solo Cup plant, and we printed on cups so I was familiar with printing. Another sign shop was for sale (Keen didn’t buy it), and I started doing research on the industry. I thought it was something I could do. We actually started the business in 2010.
What are a couple things you’ve learned over the last few years as you’ve grown your business?
Take care of customers. Most of growth has been customers giving us more work. The word of mouth from happy customers in the best. We did work for one local company, and because of that we started doing work for another company out of town.
For you, what’s the significance of having a downtown presence right now?
Visibility. It’s turned out to be very positive and the right time.
What has been your own personal biggest challenge as an entrepreneur?
The biggest thing is just being able to handle the growth. You need more people, more resources. Being able to deliver up and still deliver a sound product.
How role does the support of the community around you play in your business?
Being part of the chamber and meeting people…you’ve got to get out and meet people. People like to do business with people they know. I’ve been involved with the chamber since the late 90’s, long before I started this sign shop. When I started the sign shop, it just carried on.