Growing in Capabilities
In 1998, Google was founded in Menlo Park, California, Apple Computers continued its “Think Different” campaign, and the 18th Winter Olympic games opened at Nagano, Japan. Meanwhile in New Jersey, Loumarc Signs hired a new production manager, Teri Olsen.
And Loumarc Signs has never been the same.
Today, we’re celebrating Teri’s 20 years working at Loumarc Signs and how both have grown successfully together.
Loumarc Signs sprouted in 1993 from its roots as an advertising agency. Teri was working as a veterinary technician for six years and juggling both jobs when she began part-time overseeing sign production. Her office was a tiny garage in the back of a house. She became a full-time employee, and within a few years was promoted to graphic designer.
Enjoying her private office now, she’s experienced first-hand the growth of Loumarc Signs, outgrowing two locations before they settled into their present site in Hillsborough. The company recently renovated its office building, converting a room into a new kitchen/break room and adding new offices.
Her high school studies in commercial art and design were a good foundation. In the beginning, the designs were simple due to constraints in computer technology. She marvels at the unlimited creative possibilities today.
“The capabilities of the colors that we have, the different things we can do to show someone what their sign will look like. It’s not a 2-dimensional paper anymore. We can show them what a night view would look like with different glowing tools … (it) looks as if a photograph was taken of the sign outside and not just a 2-dimensional image,” Teri said.
The software tools, Adobe® Photoshop® and Adobe Illustrator®, enhance customization of the sign rendering and the customer proof pages. For one example of technology’s progress, look at Illustrator. Its latest version is the 22nd generation in the product line.
Teri and Loumarc Signs expertise grew and evolved as the technology unfolded.
“We were babies in the sign industry, and I was a ‘baby,’ so I grew (in skills) as the company grew,” she said. She learned about established and new products, while the team learned how to design using the contemporary products and what materials were required.
“We all grew together with this company.”
With the advancement, Loumarc Signs established a reliable, consistent system. The responsibilities are defined and assigned among people in sales, graphic design, production, and installation departments. The organization has improved their capability to offer high quality services to their clients and form strong relationships with vendors.
“If you looked at customer proof pages from ten years ago, and compare them to today, you understand how much progress has been made in sign design capabilities. You’re growing as you see different things, you get ideas, and you get inspiration,” she said.
Teri has found her “sweet spot.” She continues to be thrilled when she sees signs she’s designed in public spaces.
“I love doing design. By doing it for 20 years, it’s my life and I just love it. When I’m driving around, knowing I designed that logo or sign or ad … I just love it.”
The Secret She Wants Every Client to Know
Although many parts of the process are quicker than 20 years ago, one aspect still cannot be rushed.
“Graphic design is time consuming,” Teri said. “Clients sometimes demand things instantly and don’t realize everything takes time.”
She considers not only the client’s wants and requirements, but also the municipality’s permit guidelines. She weighs these factors along with her knowledge of the best materials and design for the sign.
Teri is not a person who enjoys talking about herself, so she finds discussing her design process difficult. One reason is because she’s developed such proficiency in her work. She performs many tasks automatically, similar to a professional golfer competing in a national tournament. Her team members know the tricky challenges each project entails, so they appreciate her high level of competence.
“We’re a close knit family.”
The good news is clients do not need to be the expert — they can rely on Teri’s experience and skills.
Personal Side of Life
Teri loves her work environment. She has her own office, works with her best friend from high school and her son’s godmother, and has the flexibility she needs to raise a family.
She grew up in Whitehouse and moved to Bridgewater in elementary school where she resides today with her husband, Jim, and two stepchildren, Nycole, 23, and Tyler, 22, and children, Bella, 17, and Ian, 15. She taps into her love of outdoors by gardening, hiking, and raising chickens.
But at work, clients are always top of mind.
“I enjoy fulfilling customer’s desires and wishes 100% and giving them exactly what they wanted that is amazing. When they’re happy, we’re happy,” she said.