Barbara Larkin Insurance Agency - Allstate

Working Together Is the New Sign of The Times for Young Couple

January 5, 2013
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SIGNED, SEALED AND DELIVERED: Premier Signs owner Patrick Neal helps businesses stand out.

SIGNED, SEALED AND DELIVERED: Premier Signs owner Patrick Neal helps businesses stand out.

Fresh out of Bonita High School, Patrick Neal, now 28, thought he’d pursue a job with the forest service or the national parks. Family vacations to Yellowstone, Yosemite, Zion, Bryce and the Grand Canyon had hooked him on the big outdoors.
“I fell in love with the parks, but then I fell in love with a girl, so that kept me around,” he said of his wife Melissa with whom he now shares two beautiful children, Autumn, 4, and Rowen, five weeks.
Sticking around meant working locally, so he waited tables at Chili’s for a couple of years before he began installing real estate signs for San Dimas-based Falcon Signs.
It was great work, albeit in the great urban outdoors.
“I loved it, Patrick said. “You weren’t on the clock, you made good money, and you could work up a good sweat.”
Melissa also worked part-time for Falcon, helping out in the office. At that time, Falcon both made the signs and installed them.
When one of the Falcon partners jumped at a chance to make a complete career change and join a sports management company, Patrick and Melissa, now married, seized their opportunity to go into the sign-making business full time. They called their new venture, Premier Signs.
That was 15 months ago. The real estate business was still in the ditch, meaning more Realtors were leaving the industry and throwing out their signs than new agents were joining the business and ordering new ones.
Undaunted, they invested in a new Hewlett Packard DesignJet large format printer that they were able to pick up at half the $28,000 retail price because it had been a floor model. It’s become their workhorse for the majority of their print jobs.
Next up on their wish list is a laminator, which can run between $6,000 and $12,000. Currently, Patrick individually laminates each printed sign, a labor intensive task. Whatever time they lose using old-technology, they more than make up with ingenuity and resourcefulness.

Premier Signs owners Patrick and Melissa Neal have been building both a business and a family. Photo by Bella Fiore Photography.

Premier Signs owners Patrick and Melissa Neal have been building both a business and a family. Photo by Bella Fiore Photography.

“Melissa’s really smart,” said Patrick, swelling with reverential tones about his partner, wife and the mother of his two children. “She figures out a lot of stuff on her own.
“When she was in high school, she actually read her textbooks from cover to cover and did all the assignments.”
As for the future, they’re optimistic. They don’t see any fiscal cliffs.
“It’s been good falling into this,” Patrick said. “We have a lot on our plate as far as responsibilities go, but we see the market changing in a positive direction. We’re seeing new real estate agents again.”
They also look forward to exploring new business outlets, including the printing of canvasses from high-resolution photographs. Melissa’s sister, Christina Albrigo D’Aloisio (Bella Fiore Photography) is a successful local photographer whose images they’ve duplicated in large 3-foot by 4-foot formats with delicious dramatic effect. They made for popular gifts at Christmas.
Their real estate customers love their work because they deliver quality signs for about half of what other sign printers charge and in about half the time.
“To tell you the truth,” Patrick said, “I sometimes wonder how we do it.”
Coffee is one answer. Patrick is down to three Starbucks ventis a day. Another is getting a family member to babysit for a couple of hours so they can get some quality couple time.
“We went to Viva Madrid in Claremont the other night,” Patrick. “That was the first night out we’ve had in quite a while.”
For Patrick, as much as he misses the mountains, streams and big skies, he’s glad he stuck around to build a life and a growing business and a family with Melissa.
“We’re lucky we can work together,” he said.
For them, their harmonious union is the new sign of the times.
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To reach Premier Signs, call 909.596.4018 or better still, email the company at premiersigns1@yahoo.com.

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