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Brother-Sister team take their family business to top franchise among 900 locations

DawnTiritter-Bent knew she wanted to be a business owner from a young age. In 1988,when she was only 21 years old, Bent decided to leverage her education andexperience as a graphic designer with a computer software company and becomeher own boss by opening Signarama with her brother Michael Ziccardi. 26years later, the siblings’ sign business at 403 Oakwood Road in HuntingtonStation is still going strong.

“Wethought we’d make a perfect team thanks to our complementary skills – mine ingraphic design and Michael’s in engineering,” Bent said. “Since we celebratedour 25th business anniversary last year, I’d say we were right!”

Bent, 47,and Ziccardi, 39, first learned about Signarama from their father who had heardabout the company from a friend. Bent met with Signarama founders Roy and RayTitus, themselves father and son. She was impressed with the brand, theproducts and the business model and decided it was the right investment forthem. Seven years later, in 1995, her brother joined her. “I found the idea ofcreating 3D advertising to be exciting,” said Bent. “My brother can engineernearly anything from conceptual designs. It was the perfect brand under whichto bring together our skills and business savvy.”

Signaramais the world’s largest sign franchise. The business provides comprehensive signand graphic services to consumers and commercial customers—from digital, neon,LED and pylon signs to vehicle wraps, banners and monument signs.  They also provide branding, messaging andadvertising services to help local business grow.

In the 26years since Bent and Ziccardi launched their business serving Huntington andsurrounding communities, they’ve also become New York City licensed signhangers, opening up a whole other world of opportunities in the five boroughs.They have their own 15,000 square foot manufacturing facility to handle allsignage from design, to fabrication, to installation.

With thefamily’s hard work, they experienced a terrific 2012 and 2013. So much so that theywere named Signarama’s Franchisee of the Year at the recent convention.

 “We take a lot of pride in that,” says Dawn,“this is not a small system and to have achieved that really made ouryear.  Our philosophy has always been tomaintain a diverse client base, which really helped sustain us through the ebband flow of the economy,” explained Bent. They are also proud of their “Pay ItForward” program, for which they donate signage and graphics to a non-profit inneed every month.

“Thegoodwill we generate is fantastic,” said Ziccardi, “but best of all ouremployees feel proud to be part of it all.”

With twoand a half decades of success behind them, Bent and Ziccardi are still lookingtowards the future. They have gotten their families involved in the business aswell, with seven children between them; Bent’s eldest son, Paul, has beenworking for their Signarama location since he was 15 and is currently incollege, pursuing a business degree in anticipation of joining the familybusiness. The siblings eventually hope to have all their children involved inrunning and growing their Signarama business.

“We’vehad 26 great years so far,” Bent said, “and once the kids take over I’m surewe’ll have at least 26 more.”


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