Editor’s Note: We are casting a spotlight on three of Jamestown’s thriving businesses (that also happen to be our clients). Each will be featured as a separate blog entry. We begin now with Newman Signs, and check back next week for our next Jamestown Client Spotlight.
Newman Signs: Made to Be Seen
The seeds of entrepreneurship were planted in Harold Newman at a very young age. In the early 1940s, he was just a third grader in Mayville, North Dakota when he began helping his grandfather sell vegetables in a horse-drawn wagon. They rode up and down the town alleyways, often starting at 5:00 am and working into the evening. What began as an opportunity to spend time with his grandfather became an invaluable lesson about hard work and financial gain.
In 1956, Harold Newman was studying at Minnesota State University Moorhead. He began painting signs out of his mother-in-law’s garage to help pay for tuition. After graduation, he poured all of his energy into his sign business. He moved his growing family to Jamestown and initially focused on billboards.
By 1972, Newman Signs had grown to eight employees and was on the cusp of a big change. The company won a massive contract to provide highway signs for the state of Minnesota. This created more business opportunities and quickly positioned Newman Signs for substantial growth. They acquired more than 30 sign companies and expanded into new production territory by adding a digital printing division and a commercial and residential fence division. Additional locations were opened in Bismarck, Fargo, Grand Forks and Minot, North Dakota.
Today, Newman Signs specializes in outdoor advertising and traffic sign manufacturing. They produce road signs, billboards, vinyl posters, banners and fencing. While known mostly for its billboards, it is among the 10 largest traffic sign manufacturing companies in the nation. Its Urban division is responsible for traffic safety during construction season and installation of permanent guide signs along highways. The company has grown to serve a nationwide client base and recently added a state-of-the-art printing facility. This addition has enabled the company to accommodate large-scale projects such as vehicle wraps and wall coverings.
Built on a foundation of responsible business practices, innovative thinking and hard work, Newman Signs has achieved over 60 years of successful operation. Many employees work alongside their siblings, cousins and even parents – giving new meaning to “family-owned and operated.” Harold was invested in his employees, and many have been with the company for more than 25 years. His business approach fostered a family atmosphere and staff loyalty, which is exactly how his daughter, Kari Newman Ness, runs the business as its current CEO.
Harold was active in the company until his death in 2014, and Kari is now committed to leading the company by her father’s example.
This article originally appeared in the 2019 | ISSUE TWO of the SilverLink magazine, under the title “Pride of the Prairie | Jamestown, North Dakota.” To receive a complimentary subscription to the SilverLink magazine, sign up here.