Member Spotlight on Jay Graham

Member Spotlight on JAY GRAHAM
Thompson Electric Sign Company
Interview conducted by Winnie Hart, Communications Director

Please tell us briefly about your company.
Since 1941, Thompson Electric Sign Company has designed, manufactured, installed and serviced the most innovative and technologically advanced signage in the Gulf Coast region. Our 12,000 square foot manufacturing facility in Baton Rouge designs and fabricates signs that range from high design neon tubing and embossed molded sign faces to state-of-the-art LED lighting and Electronic Message Centers where messages can change in a moments notice.

So why did you join EO and how long have you been a member?
EO members Whit Kelem, Marc Couvillon and John O Hearin are friends of mine. I leaned on them prior to buying my business, then after I bought it they approached me to join. I've been a member for 6 months.

What do you like best about your business?
There are different challenges every day. My industry is constantly evolving.
When did you first realize you were going to be an entrepreneur?
It's been a dream and goal of mine since I was 14 years old - to own my own business.  I started seriously looking for a company to purchase about 5 years ago. I saw the potential in Thompson and leveraged the opportunities following Katrina with signs that needed to be repaired or replaced.
What is your most proud accomplishment in your entire life?
My wife Barbin and my two sons Denton and Turner.

Why do you think you have been successful?
Honestly, I don't really feel like I'm successful. There is so much more I want and need to do to get there.

On a lighter note, what do you do for fun these days?
I love being with my sons - we hunt and fish together. I also play golf.

Who has the biggest influence on your life?
My mom. From the 6th grade on - it was just she and I. She worked hard to put me through school - did it on her own. I respect and appreciate that.

What advice would you give to young entrepreneurs?
Everyday is a challenge - don't let them get in your way. The tougher things get and the more stacked against you - the more motivated you are to succeed.

How has your initial experience been?
Really good. I'm in a forum with three other new members. They know where I've been and where I'm going - it's a great experience.

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