Smart50 Awards 2017

23 Easy Signs

Revenue

$8.1 million

Growth

157%

Founders

Andy Fryer, 34, Adam Parnell, 34

Head office

Sydney, NSW

Year founded

2006

Employees

42

Industry

Manufacturing, transport and logistics

Website

easysigns.com.au

WINNER

Top Innovator award

Having already built a successful massage equipment importing business, founders Andy Fryer and Adam Parnell decided to set their sights on another market. They founded Easy Signs in 2006, right on the cusp of the digital transformation of the signage industry

Embracing the challenges the changing landscape brought, the pair built Easy Signs from the ground up, experiencing a tumultuous first few years.

Having only operated in the physical product distribution space, Fryer and Parnell were thrust into a world of quoting, designing, manufacturing, and installing, which took some getting used to.

“This was a much more complex business model but one that provided the challenges we were after. One of the biggest things we learnt was the importance of having processes for everything,” the founders say.

“One of the first lessons we learnt was that starting a business with less capital than is required can be a real challenge. We nearly burnt through our capital in the first four months and had not managed to get revenue to where it needed to be.”

Today, Easy Signs boasts annual revenue of more than $8 million and a three-year revenue growth rate of 157%, securing the 23rd position on this year’s Smart50 list.

The founders attribute a portion of this growth to an early switch from being a “standard signage shop” to using an online model, which involved a downsizing in staff and overcoming some significant cash flow issues.

The founders are now looking to both increase the company’s product range and seize some opportunities in the business-to-consumer market, with an eventual goal of replicating the business in other markets, like the US.

“It’s not a challenge we plan to take on until we are sure we are ready, and we still have huge growth potential in the Australian market,” the founders said.

For other business owners, Fryer and Parnell say one of the most important things is to never become lazy, saying businesses need to “knuckle down and keep going if you want to grow”.

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