In the March issue of the Canadian Business Franchise magazine, Paul LeBlanc, who owns FASTSIGNS of Vancouver, discussed his passion for the sign and graphics industry and his journey to owning a successful business.
Paul’s journey began with his entrepreneurial spirit. When he was in his early teens, he knew he wanted to run and own his own business. Growing up, his family moved around a lot as his father would own and then sell a number of businesses all over Canada. With younger siblings, Paul grew strong leadership skills and in high school, he participated in the Junior Achievement non-profit youth organization, which fueled his business savvy.
After high school, he worked with many of his father’s business ventures, which included car rental, retail and property management industries. Finally, Paul began researching franchise opportunities. Given his graphics experience, he researched sign companies and, in 1995, he decided to open a FASTSIGNS location in Vancouver. “I realized I wanted to be part of the biggest, best franchise system,” Paul said. “When I bought a FASTSIGNS franchise in Vancouver, I quickly realized I had found the perfect opportunity to settle into for the rest of my career.”
One of the biggest initial challenges of opening a business in Vancouver was that Paul didn’t know the city. “The first year of business was much harder than I had expected. I had to create my own network,” Paul explained. So he joined networking organizations. As Paul got more involved, his business began to grow. In 2008, he moved his business from a 1,800-square-foot facility to a much larger space with 5,400 square feet, greatly expanding the center’s capabilities.
In 2002, Paul set a goal of selling $1 million in annual sales by 2005. With a set goal in mind and a motivated team, FASTSIGNS of Vancouver achieved that goal by the end of 2005. “It had always been a fun business, but that’s when I became a financially rewarding one,” Paul said.
Planning for the future
“The sign industry has changed so much since 1995 in terms of technology and applications, it now feels like a different job than when I started, so I never feel bored,” Paul explained. He highlights that FASTSIGNS provides its customers so much more than just a sign or banner. There’s consulting and strategic planning involved to ensure FASTSIGNS’ customers get the right visual solutions to reach and exceed their business goals.
Paul plans to continue growing his FASTSIGNS business for many years to come. “When I drive, I look at all the signs around and realize we didn’t produce most of them, so there’s still lots of business here to go after.”
For Paul LeBlanc’s full feature article, find it in the 2014 March issue of the Canadian Business Franchise magazine.