Need a sign for your farm, ranch, business, or yard? Cougar Custom Signs can make it for you.
The small business was created by Centre business and agriculture education students to learn marketing, management, and fabrication skills.
Seniors Dylan Deines, Cole Methvin, Greg Oborny, and Hannah Peterson, members of the applied business class have operated the new school-based business since December. They are advised by business instructor Ashley Coirier and ag education instructor Jon Meyer.
Coirier said Centre Perk, the first school-based business, lost some of its appeal after the federal government added regulations that prevented the coffee shop from selling flavored coffee and creamers. She said the new business hopes to make up for that.
Oborny is production supervisor. He creates products from sheet metal on a computerized plasma-cutting machine in the ag shop and finishes them according to customers’ preferences.
Classic designs such as No Trespassing, the Cougar logo, Home Sweet Home, and Welcome signs sell for $17.50.
Custom-made signs are priced by the square foot plus the cost of paint and machining, a setup fee, and sales tax.
Oborny said signs can be as large as 4-by-4-feet. The largest he has done so far is a 3-by-3-foot emblem for Lost Springs Fire Department. He also has done a Bible verse and signs for farms and ranches.
Advertising has been largely by word of mouth, and some items have gone to Illinois and Texas. Peterson developed a brochure describing the business. She keeps track of orders and billing, while Deines and Methvin do sales.
“We are putting our marketing and fabrication skills to the test and gaining vocational knowledge and career skills,” Peterson said.
“I am learning how a small business operates and how to please customers and make what they want,” Oborny said. “It’s fun to see something going from a blank sheet of metal to a completed sign.”
During its first three months of operation, the business had sales totaling $337, with 15 signs being sold. After subtracting paint and metal expenses, it has netted $175.
Money collected goes into a marketing fund. Net profit will be distributed among team members at the end of the school year as college scholarships.
Peterson and Deines will present the business plan for Cougar Custom Signs at the state conference of Future Business Leaders of America in Topeka. If they place in the top four, they will take it to the national convention this summer in Anaheim, California.
Coirier said new students are being recruited to take over the business in future years. She said the business hopes to expand to include a laser cutting and etching machine for use on glass, wood, and other products.