An interview with Teri Kaye Sukanec and James Sukanec, owners of the sign company, Big Ink Graphics, in Wellington
Cultural events and organizations do not exist on their own without some type of advertising. I know that many of us see an end product, whether it is an activity, business or cultural event, but more labor goes on behind the scenes that most would consider it impossible. Audience participation is crucial for cultural events and without advertising, these events are almost obsolete. All of that, my friends, starts off with the appropriate advertising that will “hook” the client and promote the “happening”. Thus, I invite you to meet a dynamic husband and wife team who has their own sign making business. Meet Teri Kaye Sukanec and her husband, James Sukanec. Although I have yet to meet Teri in person, I have made acquaintances with her via a mutual Facebook group. Through our phone interview, Teri and James were like the long-lost cousins you heard great things about and dreamed about meeting; they were laid back, honest and comfortable in their “own skin.”
Teri and her husband James did the interview together perfectly; they finished each other’s sentences and added to the dialog whenever necessary. Hence, excuse the jumping back and forth.
Signs of the Times
Just to give you a little background on the interviewees, Teri and James have been happily married for 15 years. They have two sons that they are very proud of, one is 14 and still lives at home, and the other is 29 years old and lives in New Mexico. They also have many “fur babies” as they belong to a dog rescue, have two dogs of their own and are fostering a dog that just had babies. Teri has a full-time job working as a Project Manager for a prominent phone carrier. The Sukanecs are busy, to say the least. However, that didn’t stop them from signing on to a new project that would better their lives and the lives of so many others. Let’s jump right into our interview…
AW: Tell me how your business started and exactly what you offer the public.
Teri and James: (Teri began and James chimed in ) We are about 2 years new. We started Big Ink Graphics right before the pandemic hit. James had finished his business license and we wanted to expand our ideas and become involved in the Wellington community. I am originally from Connecticut and I love Wellington. James grew up in South Florida, but still loves the close-knit community in Wellington. We were both eager to start something new and we worked through the pandemic.
James: We work remotely which served well during the pandemic and actually makes it easier to be able to cater to others at different times of the day and even night. We actually converted our garage into a make-shift workshop with a large production table, supplies, and ink. I had the background experience in printing from working as a graphic designer in the industry for a good 15 years. I had also worked for two different Fast Signs franchises. Our company specializes in large format printing, decals, posters, and other special projects.
Teri: Although we work as a team, we both have specific roles to make the company more effective and productive. James works full time at the company and I do the social media communication and marketing. James is better with the digital aspect of things, so we have a well-rounded partnership.
AW: What makes your particular business different from others?
James : We consider most of our customers “family” and offer excellent and personal customer service. Because we work remotely, we have the advantage of being able to “spoil” our customers. For example, we can accommodate our clients’ busy schedules by making our hours extremely flexible. There are times that I have worked in the middle of the night to get things done for people that wanted something a specific way or needed something in a hurry.
Teri: Because we are a small, hometown business we tend to be more personable and are competitive with pricing. James is a “night owl” and I am more of an “early bird,” so everything gets done by both of us in some capacity or a little of each.
AW: What Cultural events have you promoted and which have been the most meaningful? Can you elaborate on a few events?
Teri: We worked with an organization called Little Smiles and created a float that was made to look like a sleigh with the characters from the organization. We also made directional signs for the event. Santa and the Little Smiles group were onboard going through the streets collecting toys for children in need. It was so amazing to be a part of that and seeing the crowds of families come out with their donations and enjoying the event. James has worked with them for a few years now. He redesigns their mascots outfits for different holidays and events, created an activity book for kids, and made large cut outs of the 3 mascots (Lily, Leo, and Oscar) that show up for events for photo ops. I love seeing them making appearances and showing up with smiling photos on social media.
Actually, a great number of our projects have involved Little Smiles. We did another event for them called Bamboozle.
We have also printed and hand painted their “Oscar” trophies (for Little Smiles) and made some holiday ornaments. I had tears in my eyes seeing that trophy being handed over to those tiny little hands. It was so precious!
On the subject of “Christmas”, we also have done the printing and producing of the signage for the Lights Of Hope event at Okeeheelee park for the last two years.
We are very proud of our signs we donated to The Wellington Conservation Center. I‘ve lived in Wellington for over 30 years and not sure how I had just learned about this place. It is truly an enjoyable and educational experience. We were so impressed that we wanted to give back what we could. James designed their logo, and we created and installed their signage for them that you see in front of their location. We feel good helping them to be seen and that will allow others in the community to enjoy this experience as well.
I wanted to also mention that we designed, printed, and installed the Window Graphics for Doreen Scheinpflug Fortman, the owner of Fred Astaire Dance Studio in Wellington. Doreen’s studio is such an asset to our community. She is also a big believer in “giving back”. I love that we have the tools and resources to be able to help other small businesses and organizations prosper.
There are so many wonderful events that we have been a part of that it is difficult to just name a few. I don’t want to forget to mention that James and I were involved with an event for Zero Spaces. I love their concept of using empty retail space that they rent to artists for studio space at affordable rates.
One last memorable project was one where James had done a very heartfelt project for an employee health nurse that turned her into a “super healthcare hero”. Before we printed it, we left room on the canvas for the staff to sign.
AW: Do you work exclusively with Florida or other states as well?
James: We have customers in Wellington, North Palm Beach, Jupiter, but the majority of our business is in Palm Beach County. I would eventually like to spread out to Miami.
Teri: We feel very comfortable in Wellington and would definitely like to be more involved with the community here-this business helps us do that as well.
AW: What is something that people would be surprised to learn about your business?
Teri and James (chiming in together and laughing): Maybe that we are all home-based and we do all of our work in a small garage, even big projects.
James: I can print a 4-foot by 8-foot design in a small space and we have done some huge signage.
AW: What is pricing like? Where do you advertise?
Teri: We have a website: biginkgraphics.com and also, we have a Facebook page: biginkgraphics.FL
We haven’t done a lot of advertising. We hope to start branching out more in that area. For now, we do a lot of posting on social media and a lot of business is done “word of mouth”.
AW: What challenges do you encounter in this business?
James: There are a lot of online companies that push down their prices and then it starts to become not profitable. We value our work and our customers and price everything according to those principles. It can be a challenge finding businesses before we can even think about making the signs. But we take great pride in our work and have a lot of experience to offer as well.
Teri: Sometimes it takes a lot of discipline because of family distractions and of course … our dogs. But James and I work different hours, so we balance each other out.
AW: Do you have a special “Mission Statement” that guides your company?
Teri and James: We are a small business that takes pride on being able to fulfill big ideas. At Big Ink Graphics our focus is on delivering personable customer service, creative design, and high-quality prints.
AW: What are your plans for the future of Big Ink Graphics?
James: We would like to grow outside of our homebase. Our plan involves buying more equipment to do more signages and hiring more contractors to be more efficient and increase production.
My usual interviews are not with businesses, so doing this was extremely enlightening and eye-opening. I also appreciated that Teri told me how she was so happy to do the interview-that it really made her think about how involved they are with the community. I will probably never look at a sign the same way again. As a writer and also an author, I know that first impressions will capture and ultimately determine your audience. Hence, signs are not just advertisements-they are about people baring their souls, their hard work, their mission statement and inviting you to be a part of that “world”. The more I think about this analogy, the more I feel a great sense of pride doing this article. I hope one day to meet the Sukanecs as their signs have given me great insight and appreciation for good advertising. I have a strong feeling that their business will be around and expanding for a long time. Who knows…maybe you’ll consider using them should you have any promotional needs. Remember, life is full of signs, but the RIGHT one’s count, don’t they ?