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Family business Mel Wacker Signs overcomes economy

staff Published: May 1, 2010 4:28 PM
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Mel Wacker Signs began with an adventurous spirit -- the kind of entrepreneurial gusto that concerned Bonnie Maier's mother, Jewel Wacker.

After 35 years of business and a move into an official building, Bonnie Maier, who is now the president of the company, said her father's attitude must be "contagious" because as the effects of the economy have filtered into the business, she and the staff have been diversifying services and products the company offers.

"The economy has me scared and I'm not afraid to say that," Bonnie Maier said. "If Dad could do anything, we can try to do it too. He was always ready to try something new. He never said 'no' to people."

Mel Wacker's attitude won the company long-term business, with several early accounts still purchasing signs today.

"It's come a long way. It's all through God, who is blessing us,'' Bonnie Maier said.

Rising disapproval of government decisions, however, has given Mel Wacker a new source of business. Office manager Deanna Maier said she's seen more people purchase Gadsen flags with the famous "Don't Tread on Me" slogan for tea parties in the last six months.

"They're tired of the government telling them what to do," Bonnie Maier said.

It used to be that people purchased them merely for historical pieces, but

Deanna said she believes it has a truer meaning now.

By offering different services, Bonnie Maier and Deanna Maier hope that while one area of the business may be down, the success of others will balance out the rest.

"It's just adding another dimension to the store," Deanna Maier said.

Now Mel Wacker Signs sells flags and all accessories imaginable, large crosses that hang outside church buildings, customized vehicle lettering, illuminated signs, neon signs, single-letter designs, patriotic jewelry and Tuslaw school wares. The business also sells and installs flag poles up to 80 feet tall.

Bonnie Maier said her mother once wondered where her husband and founder Mel Wacker would find enough money to feed his family with such a small operation. The small, family owned business started as a sign shop run from a single truck and some extra cabinet space inside the Wacker home at a time when design drafts were sketched out over a week's time and hand-painted.

The business stayed in the family, with Bonnie taking over, her son Rod Maier working as shop foreman and her daughter Deanna as office manager.

Selling signs wasn't the only aspect of the business for long. When Jewel Wacker couldn't find a flag to display in her home, she decided she would start selling them herself and incorporated it into Mel Wacker Signs. Maier said in the late 1970s people weren't flocking to Wal-Mart for all their needs, they were able to supply the area with flags.

Mel Wacker Signs is located on 13076 Barrs SW (SR 93), Massillon, OH 44647, 330-832-1726 or 800-765-8163, fax 330-832-1666, http://www.wackersigns.com; hours: weekdays 8 a.m.-noon,

1-4:30 p.m.

Etiquette for the national flag

*Never display the flag upside-down unless as a distress signal.

*Never carry the flag flat or horizontally.

*Give the flag respect, never using it for advertising or embroidering it on household items or clothing.

*If displaying multi-national flags, place the U.S. flag first, followed by the other flags at equal height and in alphabetical order.

*If displayed on a lapel pin, it should be worn on the left lapel, near the heart.

*If among state or other subordinate flags, the U.S. flag should be displayed at the center and at the highest point.

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