A TRIP THROUGH THE PAST
Crowder Sign Company was established in 1952 by my father Wallace L. Crowder while still in high school. He has been joined at different times by three of his brothers (Buddy, Billy & Jerry), his wife Joyce and both sons. Jerry Crowder tried his hand at sign painting, exhibiting a natural talent for the craft, but was pulled away by his passion for photography which he had honed in the Navy then the White House working his way through the ranks to filming the President. He founded and operated a very successful movie company called Production Services (PS-A, PS-C, PS-LA & PS-NYC) until his death supplying equipment around the world for movies everyone has seen. His Atlanta home office occupied all of Lakewood Fairgrounds at one point using it for set locations (many Smokey & the Bandit scenes were filmed there) subletting Burt Reynolds an office, operated his own television and movie studios along with his corporate offices. When the Lakewood Fairgrounds concert venue was built family could sit on the fire walk to watch sold out concerts for free. At his passing he had additional locations in Los Angeles, Chicago, NYC and was the largest Chapman Crane dealer in the world with the ability to supply equipment to shoot over a dozen movies at any time and anywhere.
Freddie (Buddy) Crowder also entered the sign trade paying his way through college painting signs with a lettering kit strapped to the back of his bicycle which still sits in our lobby. He even paid his way through graduate school, a PhD in psychology plus another in theology from seminary school with his bicycle and paint brushes. After graduating he managed our shop offices for dad then purchased controlling interest in our billboard division and Crowder Sign Company was joined by a sister company Crowder Outdoor Advertising. Uncle Buddy continued to run this company very successfully until his death. He also worked full time as a church planter for the Southern Baptist Association and used much of the profits from his billboard company to start dozens of churches that survive to this day. He insisted nobody address him as Doctor Crowder even in Southern Baptist official print information, he was just plain old "Buddy". The Lord blessed him in the billboard industry using his money and knowledge to plant churches, drill wells all across Africa and support missions.
I began working servicing signs in kindergarten as dad could open a lighted sign, shove me inside from the end of a crane where I would replace bulbs without having to open the sign fully till I hit my pre-teen growth spurt. I learned the trade under master "letterheads" such as "Big Dan" Griffin and "Wimpy" Cantrell along with my father. In 1973 dad decided running the rat race in metropolitan Atlanta had lost its flavor so he began downsizing from seventeen employees giving each time to find a good job then in 1974 we moved to the "country" where he built a nice shop servicing the towns of Dawsonville, Jasper and Ellijay with the newly developing resort of Big Canoe becoming our biggest client when he was not playing golf. He recruited me under conscription (old enough to work but not a drivers license) then through middle school, high school and college he worked me and my friends that made the mistake of coming to spend a weekend or week during the summer. We still di a huge amount of political signs during every election for Cobb County, Fulton County, statewide races and smaller local races where he had my mom, brother, myself and every friend or local man needing work going two to three sifts per day till the run-offs were settled.
I continued to work in the trade after school and weekends even skipping school to moonlight with other sign shops like Chastain Signs. In the early 1980's my brother and I joined our father full time in the sign business moving our commercial shop to Gainesville, Georgia. In 1997 my wife Carol and I purchased controlling interest in the primary commercial sign business and still operate it to this day. Stephen moved on to start a successful land and home development company and Dad built himself a little sign shop on the family farm. He retained the name Crowder Sign Company but you probably didn't have enough money to buy a sign from him. From retirement to his passing he developed subdivisions, built churches, built homes, made free signs for churches and enjoyed his hobby of building bird houses.
Carol and I reorganized the shop under the umbrella of Crowder Industries, Inc. doing day to day business under the name Crowder Signs. My mother, in her early 80s, still comes in a few days a month to help and represent the last of the senior generation in the trade. In the late 1990's one of my other uncle's, Billy Crowder, after retiring from the auto industry (Oldsmobile and Buick national sales leader of the year most of his career) reactivated Crowder Outdoor Advertising and operated it leasing billboards till an intoxicated driver was responsible for him going home to Jesus in 2018. Over time we have had eight Crowder's operating three different shops but for now the wife and I appear to be the last until someone else takes the helm in the future. You can also take a virtual tour of our facilities or please read our mission statement.
SOME OF OUR SIGNS FROM THE 1950'S
UNFORTUNATELY MOST OF OR PHOTOS WERE DESTROYED
FOLLOWING A TORNADO IN THE LATE 1970'S
WE EVEN REMEMBER THE 1960'S
WE WERE TOO BUSY MAKING SIGNS TO ROCK AND ROLL
THE 1970'S? WE WERE PAINTING SIGNS
A MEMORABLE JOB FROM THE 1980'S
Phone: 770-535-SIGN (7446) emails will often be returned faster than phone messages
Mailing Address: P.O. Box 1212, Gainesville, GA 30503
Physical Address: 1436 Hudgins Street, Gainesville GA 30504 OPEN BY APPOINTMENT ONLY