When I was starting out in the real estate and auction business, I was in need of a sign painter. (Yes - we had to hand paint signs then!) In my line of business, I spent a great deal of advertising dollars on signs. So finding a good sign painter was crucial.
As good fortune would have it, I met a fantastic sign painter, Norman Grove. The price he charged was super reasonable and he did an excellent job. I always admired Norman’s attention to detail - such as painting the edges of the boards to help make them weatherproof and always putting ample paint on the boards so that they would have a long life span. He was all about giving his customer a quality product.
As part of his service, he delivered the signs to me, driving many miles from his workshop to my office. And, as I developed new businesses throughout the South, I would always use Norman to paint the signs I needed for that venture or occasion. I knew the signs would be done right and at a good price; both of which were important for me as a young businessman.
As the years progressed and I needed even more signs, I kept going back to Norman and he always came through. He was always very appreciative of the work I sent his way. And I was always grateful to have someone I could truly depend on supplying these needed signs.
After we had worked together for several years, I was budgeting sign costs for a project and it hit me like a ton of bricks…..Norman had never increased the prices for the signs he made for me. I had clearly seen where the cost for everything else had increased over the years as I reviewed my budget sheet.
The very next time I saw Norman, I told him that he had never raised his prices and that I wanted to pay him more for his excellent work. He quickly told me that he wouldn’t let me do it. I knew he had pretty much retired and that I was his only remaining customer. “Ben, I enjoy doing work for you because you’ve always been a great customer who does what he says and pays me immediately upon delivery,” said Norman. “This gives me something to do. And besides, I feel like I’ve been a part your journey. I know that signs are an important part of what you do, so I’m going to keep my pricing where it is. I never want there to be any hesitation on your part to order a sign because of the cost.”
Needless to say, I kept ordering and ordering signs from him, for any and every thing I had going on. Even when I conducted real estate auctions as far away as Texas, I had Norman paint them and then I would truck them there. That’s how good he was! Not only as a painter who cared about his product, but as a person who cared about the success of his customer!
Norman passed away a few years ago, and I think of him often with great appreciation for who he was and what he meant to me and to my success.
Even though we’ve transitioned to more high-tech ways of making signs, there are still a number of original Norman Grove signs at my markets and they have weathered the test of time (some now for 30 years that still look great!)
Today, I look at the way he conducted his business and I marvel at the beauty of it. He had a philosophy of excellence as a sign painter and as a human being. Norman did what he loved, he was loyal to a fault, enjoyed and valued his customers, cared deeply about the quality of product he produced and did what he could to help his customers be successful.
Just think how wonderful the world of business would be if everyone was like Norman! And, I think if we followed his example, we’d all be happier, too.