When asked to identify his proudest moment as a business owner, Dan Crannie has a difficult time pinpointing one particular project. After all, since launching in 1985, Signs by Crannie has become one of the state’s largest sign makers, with a sister site in Florida and a portfolio boasting thousands of signs, plaques and vehicle wraps.
But if he had to pick one, it just might be the signs adorning the arches along Saginaw Street in downtown Flint – the ones that pay homage to those that stood in the early 20th century.
“Those are focal points of the community,” Crannie says. “I always feel a sense of pride when I see those.”
And the Flint community has always been important to Crannie, who graduated from Flint Southwestern High School in 1980. “As many places I’ve been in the country, I just never saw a need to leave,” he says.
Tell us about your first job.
I started out pin striping antique cars in junior high school, but my first job after graduating high school was in the sign shop at Hamady Brothers Food Market. I hand-lettered all of the big window posters for their stores. They had 54 at the time. So for Thanksgiving, I might paint a turkey with all of the trimmings. I'd do that 54 times, and then I’d move on to the cranberry sauce.
What prompted you to launch your own business?
Even when I was at Hamady’s, I was still pin striping cars and hand lettering trucks on the side. And after a while, it got to the point where I made more on a Saturday than I made in a whole work week in the sign department. I loved the job – I even had my own office – but it didn’t make sense for me to stay.
Do you remember your first client?
Did it help to have family members in the business community?
It was almost as though I had instant credibility with a lot of local people because my dad and uncle had such good reputations. The name Crannie automatically came with trust because my family always had a good reputation for quality work and fair prices.
What lessons have you learned owning your own business?
I was raised in an environment where people trusted people and a man's handshake was his bond. Over time, I found that not all people operate that way. You have to get the contract signed, you have to get it in writing. Because it’s business, and that’s the way business is done.
You recently moved your business into a 54,000-square-foot building in Flint. Why have you decided to stay in Genesee County?
It’s my home, for one. And there are a lot of quality workers here. They have a good work ethic and strong skillset. (With my employees), if something is due Friday, everyone is on board to get it done. No one is dragging their feet or trying to push the deadline to Monday.
Are you still pin striping cars?
No, that ship has sailed. If you don't use it, you lose it. (Grins)
For more information about Signs by Crannie, visit www.signsbycrannie.com.