Signs for better times
By Kyle Morey | 2.22.14
Star Bullets Founder Wayne Bruzzese | Photo by Dale Pickett
When Wayne Bruzzese started looking into upgrading signage as director of marketing at Anderson Speedway, checkered flags of opportunity started racing through his mind.
“I saw there was a hole in that market,” Bruzzese said. “Someone said, ‘well, you ought to start your own company.’”
That was in 2010. Fast-forward two years down the road and Star Bullets, Banners & Signs was born. Today, Bruzzese’s new business is one of three nominated for the Madison County Chamber of Commerce’s “Emerging Business of the Year Award.”
The award will be presented during the 2014 Madison County Chamber Annual Awards Gala from 6 to 9 p.m. Thursday, March 6, at the Madison Park Church of God.
The Emerging Business Award honors a Madison County-owned and Chamber-member company that’s been in business for fewer than five years and has fewer than 100 employees.
The other two nominees are Sales Artists and The Story Shop. The winner will be chosen based on demonstration of visible growth and achievements as well as investment in the community. Another factor in the criteria is which business has best exhibited “the cool factor” that energizes the community through their products and services.
Bruzzese, a 30-year technology director at the now-closed Bright Automotive, is appreciative of the brighter lights suddenly shining on his future.
“We were ecstatic,” Bruzzese said. “Every day I see new signs go up that aren’t ours. People don’t know about us. To be a finalist in the emerging business category is an awesome honor. Hopefully more people can see what we do.”
They may not realize it, but anyone who’s seen the Culver’s billboard, the State Farm lighted sign or the graphics on the elevator doors at St. Vincents Hospital has viewed Bruzzese’s handiwork.
But the real “drive” for this former Anderson Speedway promoter is much more than the profit/loss line on a spreadsheet.
“What really drives me is my ability to help others,” he said. “I’m not really in the sign business. I’m in marketing. We are a marketing company that helps people through signs.”
Bruzzese, a graduate of both Anderson High School and Anderson College, has created a “Give Back” program.
“Any church that does business with us, we will give back to that church 20 percent,” Bruzzese said. “It’s not a discount. It’s our way of giving back to churches.”
Giving is mindset shared by Bruzzese’s wife, Michelle, who started John’s Hope Foundation five years ago to advocate for adolescent mental wellness.
What has helped make Bruzzese successful at the sign business is the fresh perspective he brings.
“I have a degree in marketing and a master’s in business administration,” he said. “But I don’t have a background in the sign business. There are advantages and disadvantages to that. My thinking is not based on how things have always been done.”
Bruzzese – who moved back to Anderson after spending ten years in Albuquerque, New Mexico and five in Virginia – hopes to see Anderson bounce back the way he has in his career.
“My dream would be for this business to grow so that I can give back to the people who need help,” Bruzzese said. “I was here when people could afford second and third homes. I was also here when unemployment was 25 percent. My hope would be that I can watch Anderson come back.”
About the Award
3 finalists. 1 winner. The Emerging Business of the Year honors a Madison County-owned and MCC member company that has been in business fewer than five years and has fewer than 100 employees. The company must demonstrate the following characteristics to be nominated and must excel above others to win: Demonstrate visible growth and achievements, adhere to the company's brand promise, invest in the community, and demonstrate the "cool" factor of a new business that energizes the community either in their product/service offerings and/or their corporate culture.
> Read more and view past award winners on the WALL OF FAME