The Dialogue with James K. Brooks, Sr.
This feature is a question-and-answer session with a new Blount County Chamber member. So here we go with our 58th installment visiting with James K. Brooks, Sr., president of Southern Signs, Inc., which provides signage needs to businesses in our community and the surrounding areas. We are in business to create quality signage for our customers at an affordable price.
Describe what you do. Southern Signs, Inc. designs, fabricates, installs and services "signs of all kinds." We also offer on site welding and crane service to 125.
How did you get started? My father began the sign company in Oak Ridge in 1977. Once I came on board, we moved to our current location and continued to grow the business. We are now a third generation family owned and operated small business and look forward to continuing to prosper.
What is your background? I began working with my father while still in high school. His business knowledge, combined with my artistic drive, led to shared skills that have helped Southern Signs strive.
Who is your mentor? Above all others, God. He continues to provide for my family and allows us to work with and support each other. I must also give credit to my father who brought me up in the sign business and began the company I now operate.
Describe your customers. We provide services to many loyal customers including several large oil companies, restaurants and banks as well as many small local businesses. We are proud to serve customers today that have been with us since the start up of Southern Signs. Some of our customers include Downey Oil Company, Coffman Oil Company, Pioneer Petroleum, Hackney Petroleum, Buddy's Bar-B-Q, Full Service BBQ Alcoa Tenn Federal Credit Union, Mountain Commerce Bank, SouthEast Bank and Tennessee State Bank.
Name three things you wish you knew when you started. 1. I wish I had known more about communicating with employees in a professional manner and the importance of "leading" instead of "pushing". 2. I wish I had had experience with banking on a business level such as loans for equipment and other financial burdens. 3. Taxes. I wish I had been more informed about the processes of business taxes.
What do you enjoy most about your business? I enjoy designing and producing a sign that increases my customer's profit margin by attracting attention to their business. It is a blessing to be able to do this alongside my wife, son and daughter as well as our quality employees.