Mustang Sign Group’s growth prompts plans for new building

Construction of $1.2 million building in Kennewick could be complete by fall

Five years ago, Will and Lauran Wang bought Mustang Sign Group with the hope of slowly growing the company.

Little did they know their clientele would double, revenue would increase by six times and they’d be closing on 1.5 acres of land for a new headquarters within five years.

“Mustang’s growth has exceeded our expectations. It is funny looking back at our goals and our strategic plan,” Lauran said. “I remember every year telling my husband that there was no way we would be able to accomplish that. Surprisingly enough, every year, our amazing team makes it happen.”

The company expects to break ground on a 17,000-square-foot building within the next 60 days at 10379 W. Clearwater Ave.

The company currently operates in 3,000 square feet of space at 8620 Gage Blvd., Suite A. in Kennewick. Once the new office is complete, Mustang Sign will occupy twice that space.

The new 6,000-square-foot building, estimated to cost $1.2 million, will include five upstairs offices and a 5,000-square-foot garage below, along with an additional 6,000 square feet for another tenant to lease.

The extra space means individual offices for designers and project managers.

“It will also provide visiting clients with a better experience and private consultative meeting place. We will also have a large conference room and welcoming lobby for clients to sit in,” Lauran said. “Most importantly, it greatly expands our production capability, gives our employees some elbow room to do their jobs, and allows some room to keep adding equipment and technology.”

The Wangs are “hopeful” for a September completion date.

Mustang Sign Group was established in 2007. The Wangs bought it from the original owners in 2012 and worked out of a 1,500-square-foot garage with a total of two employees. Today, they employ 10 full-time staff members.

The two are partners in the business, with Lauran working daily as project manager and her husband helping to support the business. Though the two “tag-teamed administrative tasks” in the beginning, Will is president of HFG Trust, which now takes up most of his time.

“I have developed some strong and positive relationships over the years working with other business owners in our community, and I remain very much on the ground floor working with them every day to fulfill their branding and signage needs,” Lauran said. “It’s really the part of the business that I have a great passion for.”

When the couple first took over management, Mustang Signs served between 100 and 200 businesses, a number that has increased to more than 400 in the Tri-Cities, Walla Walla, Sunnyside, Yakima, Prosser and northeastern Oregon.

“This growth has reflected in our revenue as we started the first year with $200,000 and we’ve expanded to six times that today,” Lauran said. “We estimate growth of revenue of at least 20 percent this year and hope to maintain this for the next few years.”

Lauran credited the success to be “strategic and a little lucky” in adding services and specialties conducive to growth.

The increase in clients brought with it the necessity for more space. Expanding into a larger facility wasn’t a conscious choice, Lauran said.

“We outgrew our existing space and could no longer fit all of the printing equipment, production space and garage space for the vehicles that were coming in last year,” Lauran said. “We wanted to maintain easy access for our clients and continue building on the unique brand that we have established, so building a Mustang building seemed like the logical choice.”

The full-service creative company is focused on signage — custom, electrical and banners — vehicle wraps, sign installations and print production and specializes in myriad styles of interior and exterior signs, LED message centers, window graphics, wall and floor graphics and custom trade show displays. The company also offers sign repair and maintenance services.

Two more employees will be phased in over the next six months as part of the business’ expansion.

“We are well staffed right now. It is far more important for us to add the right people than the quantity of people. We currently have designers joining our team with diverse backgrounds,” Lauran said.

Traditional print designers, along with those versed in structural and 3-D design, make a well-rounded team, Lauran said.

“With the direction of our business, it is time we bring our designs to life and that is a unique skill set to have,” she said.

“The worst thing a business can do while it’s growing is to forget what got them there, and we have always hung our hats on providing a world-class client experience and industry expertise,” Lauran said. “The only way we can do this is by adding talented and driven staff, as we are always looking for people who want to join a growing business, but it is so important that their core values align with the business and our clients.”

Lauran credits her staff for the company’s growth.

“We’re really blessed to have found the staff that we did, and because they do such a great job taking care of our clients, people come back. I think this says a lot about our community and our area, that there is loyalty and people care about other people,” she said.

The biggest challenge the business owner faces is time demands and building the right team “so the business doesn’t continue to consume your life.”

“We have two children that are under the age of 3, so we want to make sure we don’t sacrifice their childhoods too much and miss everything,” she said.

The biggest reward is seeing clients’ happiness at the finished products, she said.

“We take a lot of pride taking care of people within our building — both employees and clients. In many ways, seeing the business grow has been like watching your own children grow up,” Lauran said. “It is definitely rewarding building something spectacular, as my husband would say.”

Her long-term vision is to continue expanding and begin manufacturing and fabricating signage in-house, which she considers “very close,” especially with the benefit of a larger facility.

“We are in the business of signs, but the business really comes from people and the relationships we’ve built over the years. We look forward to many more years serving the business community,” Lauran said. “My husband has a great quote that he stole from Warren Buffet: ‘It takes 20 years to build a reputation and five minutes to ruin it. If you think about that, you’ll do things differently.’ We truly believe this.”

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