As long as people are breathing, there will be a need for signs, said Tim O’Hara, director of production for Summit Custom Sign Company, owned by Kelly and Jim Pacina.

“That’s the best thing about signs,” O’Hara said. “We will always need a way to communicate with people.”

Summit opened March 1 with a staff of five, three are new to Colorado Springs.

Summit makes every type of sign imaginable — lit signs, routed signs, vinyl signs with grommets, car wraps, high-end wall art for offices or homes, advertising flags, pop-up displays, sidewalk signs, pole banners, magnetic signs, cable displays and panel displays.

“We do it all,” said Jim Pacina. “We pride ourselves in our integration. We want to not just make a business deal, but a friend too.”

Custom signs can spruce up neighborhoods, said O’Hara.

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“It makes a difference to tourists and visitors,” said Abraham Groves, adding that he’s working with businesses in southeastern Colorado Springs. “Under the surface, there [are] a lot of good businesses with bad signs. [Good signage] shows a sense of pride.”

Business model

Summit is affiliated with the national business model Signworld, which provides all the equipment needed to operate the business, as well as pricing and point-of-sale software, four weeks of technical, operational and sales training and ongoing weekly sales and marketing webinars. In addition, the partnership with Signworld includes site selection, lease negotiation and ongoing support.

The Pacinas also take advantage of extensive networking with other sign business owners affiliated with Signworld.

The Signworld website says the initial investment starts at $195,000 — which includes the initial package of $150,000, as well as $20,000 in startup money for immediate business needs like a website, office furniture and phones, security deposits and insurance. An additional $25,000 is available for cash reserves for new businesses to make sure they get the business off the ground in the right way.

The Pacinas paid $150,000 for the initial buy-in for the Signworld business model, Kelly Pacina said. She said she and her husband have invested more of their own money into the business.

Business goals

After he explored the business model Jim Pacina said, “I fell in love with it. In the sign business, you can create these beautiful pieces of artwork.”

The Pacinas investigated Signworld-affiliated businesses for more than a year before committing to the model, which is different from a typical franchise. It requires no monthly minimums and no royalties, according to the Signworld website.

“When we researched this, we talked to probably 30 Signworld owners,” Kelly Pacina said. “Not one person said they regretted their decision. Everyone said they wished they had done it earlier. We really did our research. It was a big investment, and we wanted to make sure we did the right thing for us and our family.”

The couple has a goal of selling $150,000 in the first year, and “within five years, we would like to buy our [own] facility,” Kelly Pacina said.

Colorado Springs for a reason

Almost everyone who works at Summit Signs moved because they wanted to live in the Springs.

Originally from Southern California, Jim Pacina retired from the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department gang unit. His wife Kelly is a certified pharmacy technician. After retiring, Jim became billionaire Eli Broad’s bodyguard and set up the Broad family’s security systems.

The Pacinas raised their two daughters there. Jim Pacina also worked for Hollywood stars, investigated white-collar fraud and worked for Broad’s mutual fund company, SunAmerica. The couple moved to Texas with Jim Pacina’s job, and after three years there, they considered options for retirement.

“We’re empty-nesters, and this is where we wanted to retire,” Kelly Pacina said.

O’Hara, 39, and his wife Kelly wanted to live closer to their families in Wyoming and New Mexico.

“I always wanted to live in Colorado,” O’Hara said.

In the 1990s, he played drums for the rock band The Lillingtons. His musical career led him to Albuquerque, N.M. While there, he learned Adobe Illustrator and began making signs.

He worked for a sign company that “always charged a lot of money. It snowballed,” and people began asking him to design their signs.

He created signs, wraps and motorcycle art for clothing store Metal Mulisha, the annual sports event X Games and art for Rockstar Energy drink. He took a break from the printing industry and worked as territory manager for Rockstar Energy for five years before hearing about the Summit opportunity.

Groves and Angelique Strecker are the salespeople for Summit and are long-time Colorado Springs residents.

While attending college, Groves worked full-time, primarily at small businesses.

“I’ve seen a lot of businesses without customer service,” Groves said. “Working for small businesses and family-owned businesses was the right fit for me.”


Summit Custom Sign Company

Founded: 2016

Employees: Five

Location: 1110 Elkton Drive, Suite I

Contact: summitcustomsigns.com, 719-694-9146