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BUSINESS TO GO: Minkewich credits family for his success

November 13th, 2003:

BUSINESS TO GO: Minkewich credits family for his success
Windsor Star
Thursday, November 13, 2003
Page: C3
Section: Business
Byline: Ted Whipp
Source: Windsor Star



Windsor's 44-year-old Superior Signs & Designs can cover your walls, windows, car bumpers, big truck trailers and billboards -- wherever products can be mounted, hung, stuck or suspended.

With annual sales surpassing $500,000, owner Tom Minkewich and seven employees are kept busy handling computerized graphic image files, designing layouts, running those presses.

This week's municipal election drew the biggest business of its kind in decades. Each sign cost a candidate $2 to $3.

Such walk-in sales account for a shrinking percentage of business, as the company on Janette Avenue goes after more wholesale, high-end work and volume. A sign printed in sections to cover a long truck trailer sells for $10,000. Customers include factories and Big Three automakers. Most orders come from marketing companies and real estate firms. The shop handles 90 per cent of the local property trade. Materials include vinyl sheets, mason and foam boards and rigid-plastic coreplast.

Minkewich, who has a wife named Brenda and two young sons, answered these six personal questions from Business to Go:

1. What was your first job?

"Ever since I could ride a bike, I was in the shop working for a dollar an hour." His father Anthony, who died in January, took over a sign business on Lauzon Road. A Lithuanian from Montreal, he and his wife Peggy, who died in 1989, met and married in Leamington and adopted Tom, their only child. Minkewich's dad once played in the NHL. He moved up from centre with the Leamington Flyers to the New York Rangers and was in a few games about 55 years ago.

2. What's your best success and your worst business experience?

"Having good people who work for me, life-time employees. And computer technology," he says of the successes. Minkewich made a "heavy investment" in digital equipment three years ago to produce more work. Of his worst experience, he says: "My father passing away. The business was dad." The shop became an incubator for the local sign industry, employing, training and helping people. Family and community support helped tremendously, he adds.

3.What's the best and worst advice you've received?

"The best advice was to take a look at computers." As for his worst advice, he didn't get any: "Dad was my advice. He was always right."

4. How do you balance family and work?

"It's hard. When my first boy was born, I was there and I was back in the shop in three hours. I try to co-ordinate a specific activity so (my sons) get to do something with me. Family time can be sporadic." His interests include support for community services that assist children.

5.What are your favourite books, movies and TV shows?

"I like to read digital graphic magazines. Favourite movie? The Matrix. I like the sci-fi. I used to watch Home Improvement."

6.What's your best and worst habit?

"Best work habit is my hunger for work. You gotta want it, or go work for someone else. Worst habit? Sneaking out from work early whenever I can."


Written By: The Windsor Star
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