Not even a smudge will make it past Ryan Fritz, CEO and founder of Office Sign Company in Fargo. Every piece of work this company puts out must meet rigid criteria for quality. And yet amid this strive for perfection, there is no doubt the operation is busy but laid back, vibrant, fun and full of personality. Behind one door you can find a vintage pin ball machine, on one wall an Iron Maiden poster and in the break area, a keg.
Behind it all is its Fritz, who runs the company from humble beginnings based off his vision for a simplistic lifestyle. A company that started in his own basement circa 2008 as a way to spend more time with his daughter. Now, not even a decade and a few offices later, his staff has grown from a one-man operation to approaching 30, and their growth is showing no signs of stopping.
Office Sign Company won our Small Business of the Year Award at the ChamberChoice Awards this June, and it’s thanks to Fritz’s mom who submitted the nomination. The CEO made sure to thank her, genuinely and graciously, at the awards ceremony. As a finalist for this same award two years in a row, he was surprised and elated to have won the title. And like any humble leader, he gives all the credit back to his staff. “I’m happy the team was recognized. They deserved it,” he said.
As for how they’ve achieved such great success from a small beginning, Fritz attributes it simply to making great products for every single order, and a bit of search engine luck. In fact, their business started out as an eCommerce website, primarily making products for companies around the country. And these are no small orders either – Office Sign Company has supplied products for ESPN, the Philadelphia 76ers, Coca-Cola and even the White House. “We strive for excellence. That’s the difference,” he said.
But Fargo is Fritz’s home, and he is happy to be doing more and more local business, though he still views the company as an underdog and almost a community secret. “We finally feel like Fargo is realizing who we are,” he said. “Doing business in Fargo is like a dream come true.”
For that business, no job is too big or too small for Office Sign Company. They’ll take orders for small name tags to large wall designs, and the only limit is your imagination. “If someone says, ‘can you do this sign,’ we want to say yes,” he said.
Fritz is always looking to push the boundaries of design. In fact, his office was almost a showroom in itself with prototypes for various new projects and offerings. He’s constantly on the lookout for new aesthetics and materials – even bamboo! “I’m trying to push the design envelope, adding new signs, designs and markets.”
Fritz runs the business in reflection of his kids. He shared that the most important values are integrity, honesty and trust. To treat others how you want to be treated, and to always try to be better. Lessons he believes are important for his staff and his family.
He places importance on giving back to the community just as much. “To be successful, you have to start giving,” he said. He, personally, loves connecting with the community through volunteerism and making an impact without having an agenda for business. “Help the underdog, which is who we see ourselves as still.”
Continued growth is definitely a part of the plan for Office Sign Company in the future. In fact, Fritz is already thinking ahead to the next equipment, next space and next chapter. Of course, time for community service is also in the plans. As is continually making the very best products for the best price, with the best service in town. And always smudge-free.