Rogers-based sign company Best Sign Group has changed ownership after founder Laura Tucker sold the 25-year-old business to Mike Jones, who has more than 30 years of experience in the automotive industry. Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.
The deal closed Tuesday (Jan. 15) and had been in the works for less than two months. After receiving more than a dozen inquiries in the first few weeks of listing it for sale, Tucker said she knew that Jones was the right person to take the company into the next 25 years. Tucker will continue to work with the company over the next year to support Jones, employees and customers. All existing 14 employees will remain with the company under the new ownership.
“Russ (her husband) and I were ready to start our retirement, and the next chapter of life,” Tucker said. “Best Sign Group has offered our family an amazing 25 years of being small business owners and building the best team-family of any company. We reached the goals we had set forth and took advantage of the right time.”
Jones said he saw the business the first day it was listed on BizBuySell, and he knew there was something special about it. “It was everything I was looking for from its size to its extraordinary culture to its excellent reputation,” he said. “I contacted the business brokers firm on Tuesday and met with Laura the following Saturday, and within the next two weeks we had a letter of intent. And in less than two months we closed on the business.”
When asked if he plans to offer any new services, Jones said the company is evaluating other opportunities, and there’s always room for growth. The company offers signage from vinyl banners to quick signs and exterior signs and installations.
“It’s our passion to make every part of creating, manufacturing and selling signs as easy for our customers as possible,” Jones said. “But it goes so much further than that. Best Sign Group gives back to the community supporting various charities and organizations, and I will continue that tradition.” Some of his goals include continuing the existing level of customer service and look to provide new and better ways to serve the community and customers. The company also plans to develop its promotional product business, its business-to-business relationships and work with city government to promote proper signage for customers in the cities in which they work.
Jones’ grandparents started a car business in Fayetteville in 1934, and the company changed ownership to Jones’ parents before Jones started to run Jones Motorcars Inc. Jones sold the Mercedes-Benz dealership to Superior Automotive Group in May 2006. Jones’ hobby and other business venture is pyrotechnics and works with Riverside Fireworks of Siloam Springs. His fireworks shows have been seen at Cross Church in Rogers, Razorback Stadium, Arvest Ballpark and area city shows.
“Mike has spent his entire life working for and running the family business working in all aspects of sales, operations, management and ownership in both the car business and rental car business,” Tucker said. “Now Mike has begun to branch out looking for successful businesses with a highly respected reputation and a strong focus on customer service.”
Tucker was 24 when she started Best Sign in 1994 as a small banner and sign company in Rogers. In its first 20 years, it had amassed nearly $20 million in sales. In 2018, revenue rose 43.7% to $2.322 million, from $1.616 million in 2017, Tucker said.
“I was ready to step back from ownership, but I am still passionate about Best Sign Group and watching it bloom in this new chapter,” she said. “Over the last 10 years, along with running the sign business, Tucker Property Management was established and acquired a handful of residential and commercial rental properties in Rogers. Tucker Property Management continues to own the property that Best Sign Group is located in. Additionally, I would like to pursue my real estate license and continue to grow in the real estate and property management arena.”
She explained the importance of selling the business to a buyer in a deal that would protect the employees and company culture. “Not only did Mike agree to it, but the employees, culture and potential were also part of the main reasons he pursued Best Sign Group,” Tucker said. “We came to an immediate agreement that all employees, salaries, benefits and culture would remain the same.”
She told her employees of her intent to sell the business before she listed it. They discussed the sale, and she answered their questions. In December, Jones met with employees and spent time learning the culture after offering his intent to buy in November. “With transparency and asking for the same trust that I have always asked of our [Best Sign Group] team allowed us to all be part of this transition feeling safe, valued and desired,” she said.
Tucker was recognized by the Business Journal as one of 10 C-Suite Award winners in 2016
Chris and Barbara Taylor, co-founders of Allan Taylor & Co. in Bentonville, acted as mergers and acquisitions and transaction advisers for the seller. Legal counsel for the seller was Ron Williams of Williams Law Group in Rogers.