Assistant Fire Chief Takes Over Family Print Shop

Corey Cooper, owner of Banacom Signs & More, shares his journey with GRAPHICS PRO

Hiawatha, Iowa-based Banacom Signs & More provides a wide variety of services to its customers — from vehicle wraps to signage and printing, customized items, and apparel. The shop’s new owner, Corey Cooper, grew up in the family-run business.

Banacom Signs More 2
(Image: Banacom Signs, LLC Facebook)

“I recall one of my very first tasks at the shop was to go through a vehicle lettering job and look for and pop any noticeable bubbles in the vinyl lettering. Ever since then, I was interested in and geared my path towards the trade,” Cooper tells GRAPHICS PRO.

In April, Cooper took over the business his parents Helen and Ken Cooper launched in 1986.

“In January of 2019, my parents were experiencing some health issues — then COVID-19 happened. With both of them not in the best health, they took the advice of the healthcare community and isolated at home,” explains Cooper. “The shop was deemed essential, and we kept rolling, promoting/marketing the shop, and utilizing equipment we have to assist in making PPE for the local healthcare community. With all of that happening, my parents and I took a hard look at where we are at, where (we) have been, and what the future looked like for the shop. It was decided, with the immense support of my wife, that I would take the reigns.”

Cooper says his very first task as the new owner was to talk with the shop’s team and be candid about where the business was, what his vision and plans for the shop were, and to also integrate the team members’ ideas.

When he is not being a husband, father, or working, he volunteers for the Monroe Township Fire Department and serves as the assistant fire chief, translating his skills in public service to his print shop.

“Being in public safety and being tasked to make people’s worst day of their life a better one has taught me invaluable lessons about life that translate to business,” says Cooper. “At the shop we make mistakes, however, these mistakes are not life or death. We identify and overcome obstacles. At the fire department, we develop IAPs (incident action plans) and often times plan B and C in the event something goes sideways. Instilling these practices, the shop is healthy and continues to improve each and every day.”

Banacom Signs & More owner Corey Cooper. (Image: Savannah Blake/The Gazette — www.thegazette.com)

With improvement in mind, Cooper says the shop takes on new technologies and processes by reading articles in GRAPHICS PRO, as well as meeting with manufacturers, distributors, and its client ambassadors.

“We are always interested in seeing what is out there and giving it a try — beta testing if you would — and hopefully, with a little collaboration, we are able to implement a new product or service to the line-up,” he explains.

He continues, “I have been blessed with growing up in the trade, seeing the technological progressions, and learning from some of the best people in the sign industry about how to do ‘the job’ of making signs. I am excited for the future of our trade and look forward to any challenges.”

Avatar of Marie Fennema

Marie Fennema

Marie Fennema is the editor of the GRAPHICS PRO Today, covering news and guidance in apparel decoration, awards and engraving, and sign and digital printing.

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