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Small Business Spotlight: Boss Signs & Graphics

Alerus | AUG 23, 2014

Boss Signs & Graphics is a custom graphic design service based out of Grand Forks, North Dakota.

About the Owner

Billy Matejcek originally had dreams of becoming an electrician following his high school graduation; however, these plans soon changed as Billy’s creative instincts flourished while working on his go-kart. Billy developed all of the graphics and lettering on his go-kart, and did his best to make the kart look as good as possible. “I enjoyed designing and painting my own helmets for go-kart racing. It seemed like anything creative or hands-on, I would do,” said Billy.

In addition to go-kart racing, Billy also worked on a sprint car for Wayne Anderson from the trucking company, Karriers, Inc.  During this experience, Billy started to notice the extensive graphic work used to customize Wayne’s sprint car. Billy recalls, “One year, Wayne had a guy do the graphics like his sprint car on my go-kart. I was so impressed.”

Interested in Billy’s original graphic work on his go-kart, the custom designer asked Billy what his plans were after high school. Billy shared with him that he was waiting for an electrician job. The designer left his business card with Billy and invited him to spend time together to see if custom graphics might be something Billy would like to do.

A month later, Billy made the decision to give custom graphics a try. “The first thing we did was add a stripe and graphics to a car. I was hooked right away.  Shortly after this opportunity, I was offered a full time job,” said Billy.
Billy continued to work at Custom Stripes for the next decade. Throughout the years, Billy always knew he wanted to have his own business. When it was time for Billy to get started on his own, he knew design skills would be a critical success factor. Billy invested his time in learning Adobe Photoshop, a computer software design program, and special install techniques that could give his designs a truly unique look.

“One of my main goals, whether it be graphic and stripes on a vehicle or full car wraps, is for my design to stand out among everyone else. I wanted to make race car graphics pop off of the track,” said Billy.

Billy has enjoyed establishing his own business, but it wasn’t easy to get started. “The first year on my own, I have never been so scared in my life. What kept me going during that year was awesome support from family and friends. They reminded me to keep my head up and keep going. The best advice I was given was ‘nothing comes easy, but if you work at it you can make anything happen that you want,’” remembered Billy.

“Over the years I had established a good network, but the challenge was now to let people know of my new journey in life,” said Billy. “As time went on, word spread and work started flowing in.”

Customer service has been the key contributor to Billy’s success. “Getting to know your customer and how they are as a person can make doing your job easier and more fun. It’s such a huge reward when I make someone’s day, or make a customer happy by getting a job done and meeting their requested deadline. When you can see the excitement on a customer’s face when you finish the job is a good feeling. Exceeding my customers’ expectations helps me to establish long-term relationships with customers, and they will continue to come back for more business,” said Billy.

Billy is the only employee at Boss Signs & Graphics, requiring most of his time to be committed to working on jobs. At the shop and on the road, Billy is kept company by Bailey, his pet Boxer. Bailey has become part of the Boss Signs & Graphics brand as she is well known at many places and customers are always waiting for her visit.

In his spare time, Billy enjoys his hobby of 21 years — working on sprint cars. “Over the years, the people I’ve met through working on sprint cars has helped my business greatly, and made it fun for me,” said Billy.

Today Billy designs for just over 20 race cars; some of the cars are from teams which require Billy to work on 2 to 3 cars at a time. Billy also designs for a couple big sprint car teams, something he is very proud of. “When people ask what you do for a living and you can say you design the graphics for a couple well known people like Mark Dobmeier, Jac Haudenschild, or some of our more local drivers, it’s a great feeling when you get that positive feedback on the looks of the cars,” said Billy.
Running around town you might notice a few of Billy’s projects: the Right Choice Electric vans and the KYCK/Z94 Radio RV. On the open highway you might see the graphics and lettering on farm trucks that Billy has worked on. “It’s always fun and unique to work on farm trucks because they are all trying to make their own brand to set them apart from the other thousands of trucks out there. It’s a fun challenge to keep coming up with new and interesting designs,” said Billy.

About the Business

Boss Signs & Graphics is a mobile graphic design service business based out of Grand Forks, ND, with onsite install service for customer convenience. The list of design work includes wedding banners to fleet graphics. Vehicle striping and graphics offer customers the opportunity to make a custom look for their vehicle or their fleet.   Vehicle wraps are growing in popularity among Billy’s customers. “I see a vehicle wrap as a moving billboard and a great investment when it comes to advertising, with most wraps lasting over 5 years.”

When it comes to design, Billy takes the time to visit with the customer, learn about their ideas, and come up with designs for their project. “Every job is unique and comes with a challenge. I always like to take the time to listen to the customer and their ideas so I can design the right product for them. I offer suggestions for improvements, including the latest in design or what we can do to enhance their design to make it stand out even more,” said Billy. To showcase his design work, Billy manages a Flickr page of his latest creations.

Boss Signs & Graphics also produces signs ranging from a basic flat metal sign to big or small raised letters (plain or lighted) for the front or inside of buildings. Billy has seen a lot of business in signage generated from the western part of the state.  

Another growing product is Paint Protection Films, a tough barrier made to protect vehicles from objects chipping or scratching the paint. It’s a clear vinyl that is 6 millimeters thick and can conform to most basic shapes. Once applied it is so clear that it is hard to tell it is on.

The name Boss Signs & Graphics comes from a nickname Billy acquired while working on sprint cars. “People started calling me ‘Billy the Boss’ and a few even suggested Billy Boss Signs should be my business name. When I was first starting out, I had a couple other names picked out and tested to see how people would react to the names. ‘Boss’ was the stand out and easy to remember, so the name Boss Signs & Graphics was born,” said Billy.

About the Alerus Relationship  

“I was meeting with people from SCORE (a nonprofit association dedicated to helping small businesses get off the ground, grow, and achieve their goals through education and mentorship) and one of my projects was to go to a few banks and gather information to see how you felt about them. Out of all the places and people I visited with, Kari Vien at Alerus Financial was the most detailed on how things would work for starting up business accounts and loans,” said Billy.

Billy finds banking with Alerus Financial is convenient due to their various locations around town. Billy also appreciates the knowledgeable staff that is available to help with any question he might have for his business or personal banking.
“I’ve had an exceptional experience with Alerus. They originally funded a loan I needed to get the right equipment to get my business off the ground. As my business grows, I continually have questions and they take the time to not only answer my questions, but also provide ideas for me to consider. They help me to look forward, guiding me to make the right decisions,” said Billy.

Get in Touch With Boss Signs

For more information, contact Billy directly at (701) 330-7544.  Billy can also be reached by email.

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