Wausau Pilot & Review
Editor’s note: Business of the Week is a sponsored feature that shares the stories of locally-owned and operated businesses in the Wausau area, highlighting the products and services they offer and the ways they contribute to the metro area’s unique flavor. Learn how to feature your business by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
This week’s featured Wausau Business is Graphic House, Inc., located at 8101 International Drive. H. Bren Hartinger, CEO and founder of Graphic House, started out as a sign installer before he ever dreamed of launching a nationally-recognized business. As he became more involved in the industry, the design intent of signs piqued his interest. To learn more, Bren attended the Chicago Institute of Lettering and Design, which sent him on a career path of sign painting. In 1976, he put his new skills to the test by opening a small sign shop out of his home basement in Wausau. That test ultimately led to an industry-leading sign company with additional offices located throughout Wisconsin and the Midwest. Offering superior custom design, fabrication, installation and service, GHI serves companies within the Wausau area and to accounts throughout the country.
“Our clients rely on us for their signage solutions and needs. We collaborate closely with each client, as well as with general contractors, architects, and designers, to ensure that every project is completed to each client’s satisfaction — and completed on time and within budget,” Hartinger said.
Hartinger and members of his team had plenty to say about the most rewarding aspect of this business. The most eye-opening answer: “Seeing the customer’s expectations being surpassed due to GHI bringing their visions to life.” When businesses and institutions of all kinds need high-quality signage that enhances their brands and gets attention, they turn to Graphic House, Inc., for the best possible results.
Here, learn more about Graphic House, from the secret to its 40-plus year success to the best thing about doing business in the Wausau area.
Graphic House has been in business for more than 40 years. What is the secret to your longevity?
The secret to our longevity as a business is largely due to the longevity of our staff members. Over 500 years of signage industry experience stems from 35 of our current staff members. Being able to pull from their surplus of knowledge allows us to avoid past mistakes and continue to evolve.
How have advances in technology changed what you do now compared to when you first started?
Changes in technology have allowed the signage industry to evolve. When the business started in a home basement in 1976, everything had to be produced by hand. This meant signage drawings had to be drawn and painted for customer approval prior to hand drawing manufacturing prints. Over the past 46 years, our fabricators have had to switch from using neon as the main light source to fluorescents to LEDs. Today, what used to be done all by hand is now aided by technology in some shape or form. Machinery helps our fabricators cut and bend materials, while our design team utilizes 3D technology for signage designs and engineering prints. In 1976, the signage industry interviewed people by having them paint on an easel, now, the top skills include being proficient with machines/certain programs and willingness to accept change.
What is the most rewarding thing about being a part of this industry and company?
The versatility of the industry. Positions in the signage industry include sales, project management, marketing, design, estimating, engineering, fabrication, electrical, paint, masonry, and installation. “Every day is a new day in this company, with new ideas, new solutions, new everything.” The most eye-opening answer: Seeing the customer’s expectations being surpassed due to GHI bringing their visions to life.
What makes Graphic House different – what sets you apart?
To put simply, “We are serious about signage.” GHI doesn’t view signage as a commodity, but rather a unique piece of art. GHI takes care of all aspects of our clients’ signage projects, so that when they look at their newly installed signage, they remember a seamless enjoyable customer experience.
What is the best thing about doing business in the Wausau area?
Wausau has a phenomenal support community, one where local businesses partner with one another to grow. This community is filled with impressive manufacturing specialists and individuals with great work ethic. These individuals heighten capabilities for future growth and progress within the Wausau area and are enjoyable to work with.
What do you wish more people knew about your business or industry?
Two Things: Our capabilities as a whole: we produce everything from vinyl door hours and interior ADA signs to large outdoor business signage.
There’s a lot more to getting a sign than meets the eye: design, engineering prints, permitting, fabrication, utility locating, installation and servicing – and GHI does it all.
Connect with Graphic House
- 8101 International Drive, Wausau