Nebraska Neon Sign Company, DBA Nebraska Sign, is headquartered in Lincoln and has been fabricating and installing specialty signs throughout the Midwest since 1948. Jim Graham is the President and owner of Nebraska Neon Sign Company.
Tell us a little about your business. – We specialize in large and small sign production, large format banner printing, service and installation. Whether a new business starting from scratch or a current one wanting to rebrand or repair, we create, build and install signs of all sizes and types.
How did you get started in the business? – Prior to purchasing Nebraska Sign, I spent 20 years in the electronic sign manufacturing business. In 2012 the company was sold and I found myself faced with the opportunity of a career change. Due to my experience in the sign business, it seemed to be a natural fit and I always wanted to own my own business.
What is the biggest challenge you’ve faced professionally? – After the booming economy in the 1990’s, it was tough to keep the business going when the economy turned. We had to creatively find new ways, and take calculated risks, to stay relevant and explore new opportunities. It truly is during difficult times that you learn the most about yourself and your capabilities. I was proud that we were able to overcome these times and remain near the top of our industry.
What has been your most important achievement professionally? – To start with a company of two employees and grow to almost 50 employees was a huge achievement. Over those two decades, I witnessed a crazy amount of change in technology and worked with a creative group of people that led the country in sports marketing signage.
Tell us a little about your family. – My wife, Ami, is the General Manager of Broadcast House radio stations and we have two sons. Nolan is a freshman at the University of Nebraska and Cole is a sophomore at Norris High School.
What do you see as one of the biggest turning points in your life? – After the company I worked for was sold, I found myself in the position to either find a job working for someone else, or take some risks and follow my dream. I had talked for years about owning my own business. Had the company I worked for not sold, I may have still be talking about it. As I look back, this truly is the biggest turning point for me professionally.
What is your favorite thing to do on a day off? – Weather permitting, I am on a golf course.
What are you the most proud of? – To have been able to experience all the milestones in my son’s lives so far. I am so proud of the young men they have become and am their biggest fan.
What is the best piece of advice you’ve ever received? – Don’t be afraid to take risks and have no regrets. You have to be okay with getting out of your comfort zone. That’s where progress lies.
What local non-profit organization(s) are you passionate about or involved with, and are there any special reasons why? – Through my wife’s ten years on the Board, I have learned the importance of what Heartland Big Brothers Big Sisters brings to our community. We continue to support their efforts in helping to mentor kids in our area. I have known Maggi Thorne for several years and also support her non-profit organization, Soles for Souls, which helps get shoes on the feet of kids all over the world.