What the 4th of July means to me:
Any holiday has different associations and meanings for different people. The most recognizable associations for the 4th of July are fireworks, BBQ, Beer, summer vacation, and having a good time with friends and family. All with the idea of celebrating our independence from British control and becoming a free country.
I too associate the holiday with the same activities, but ever since becoming an entrepreneur, it has had a deeper meaning to me. For the first time I was able to experience what it meant to have the freedom to be able to start a business and be able to go after the American dream!
In 2013, I was working for a company that was owned and operated by a private equity group that had given up on believing in our ability as a company and our value. I had seen them take wages, benefits, and so on and witnessed first-hand the effects of what corporate America looked like. I knew in my heart that we had the ability to succeed. So, out of the desire to keep doing what I knew, I decided to figure out how to find investors and buy the company away from the private equity firm to save the jobs of as many of my coworkers that I could.
In March of 2013, we were free and independent from the private equity firm that controlled us. We were able to save approximately 30 to 40 jobs out of the 70 to 80 in the first year. Our guiding light has always been to try to find ways to protect the jobs of our people and promote American manufacturing.
It may have been a lot easier to discontinue our US production altogether and find vendors in China to make all of our products for us, like the majority of our competitors do, but what value does that provide to the greater good of our community and country?
So, as I reflect on the this glorious holiday, I ask all of you what is it that you do to add value to your community and your country to make it a better place?
About Steve Friend
Steve Friend is the President and CEO of Antigo Zeon and has more than 15 years of experience helping brands stand out with custom signage and displays. Once an Account Manager for Fallon Luminous Products, his passion for helping companies grow and his desire to keep domestic neon production alive and thriving led him to become the co-founder of Antigo Neon, now Antigo Zeon. Steve is also a loving father of two, a craft beer enthusiast, and enjoys cooking, BBQ, traveling and spending time with great people.