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As a CPA searching more than four years for a franchise opportunity that provided business-to-business services, Jim Pittman really didn’t know much about making signs. Nor did his wife, Dellmarie, with her background in marketing and banking. Yet that little detail did not prevent them from opening a FASTSIGNS® center on Raeford Road in Fayetteville more than16 years ago. Starting with one employee, two computers that didn’t talk to one another and a small plotter, the Pittmans have successfully grown their business – and outgrown their storefront. So at a time when other businesses may be downsizing or even contemplating closing up shop, Pittman and his wife will soon put up new signage at their new and larger location, just down the street from their present center.

Pittman grew up in Goldsboro and met his wife, who was from Shallotte, at Carolina. They moved to Fayetteville in 1987, and after leaving their respective first careers, partnered in their FASTSIGNS franchise. When the center first opened, Dellmarie directed outside sales. After the birth of their third child, she decided to stay at home, but remains active in the business.

The new building is the culmination of hard work, fl exibility and, as Pittman acknowledges, meeting the customer’s needs, noting that the military, builders and real estate businesses are important FASTSIGNS clients in a very competitive business field.

“Fort Bragg keeps us busy,” said Pittman. “Why do we get so much military business? Our reputation. Customer service. We know everyone says that. We consistently get very high marks. We survey our customers by email. We send them a little three-question survey. We’ve always done that, and we get really good scores. We’ve won ‘Best of Fayetteville’ two years in a row.”

A quick visit to the website, www.fastsigns.com/243-fayetteville-nc, reveals offerings from signs and graphics to interactive and digital product solutions. But Pittman explains that FASTSIGNS is more than just a sign shop.

“We want a relationship for a long time. We’re a service provider. We’re not a sign shop. We’re a sign center. Our new tagline just came out in April. ‘More than fast. More than signs.™’” 07-18-12-fast-signs.gif

Noting that it was not easy to find a retail building for sale, Pittman is pleased with the location.

“All of our good customers are literally right around the corner,” Pittman said. “It gives us the ability to expand into new areas. It gives us more room, more parking and easy access. Most of our business is other businesses. Visibility is important. You want your customers to be able to fi nd you.”

And the increased size of the new location will provide plenty of space for the Pittmans and their staff, which has grown to 10 full- and part-time employees.

“It’s 6,700 square feet,” said Pittman. “We’re taking 4,600 feet of it and leasing out 2,100. It’s basically twice as big as our center is now.”

The Pittmans’ success with a franchise business in which they had no previous experience or knowledge is no doubt the result of their absolute commitment to customer service and long-term relationships with clients, as well as an advantageous business environment with close ties to Fort Bragg and the military community. Would he, looking back, make such a decision again?

“Absolutely! I’d have done it quicker!”

FASTSIGNS is currently located at 2703 Raeford Rd. The new center at 2807 Raeford Rd., is expected to open its doors this summer. For more information, call (910) 678-8111 or visit their website.

Photo: Fast Signs is looking to build new relationships as the business expands.

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