Small business owners are often called upon to sacrifice themselves personally for the greater good of the business they are striving to build. For Johnny Flatt, that meant selling the 1969 Camaro Z-28 that he had spent the past four years restoring. Flatt says it’s a small sacrifice to invest in a small business dream, with his partner Kelly Mitchell by his side.
And that was the start of Flatt-Broke Sign Works.
Pulaski County business owners believe “every sign tells a story.” Flatt and Mitchell combine their unique talents to create nostalgic, personalized and decorative signs on heavy metal, handcrafted barnwood, and more. Signs can be personalized and personalized to include names, photos or other artwork.
Flatt had saved two decades to buy the Z-28, and he spent the next four years restoring it.
“The car started the idea, but then I had to sell the car to fund the business,” Flatt said. “So it’s bittersweet.”
Flatt and Mitchell were inspired to start their own sign business after seeing a similar business do it while on vacation in Gatlinburg, TN, in 2018. They set out to learn all they could about the business and , today, they design and produce their own signs.
But at first, they needed the help of an experienced sign maker to show them the ropes and print the products they were creating.
They have become a sponsor of Somernites Cruise and have set up a vendor booth at the Somerset event each month and other regional events and attractions throughout the summer and fall. They post their signs in their sales area and take the custom orders they make and ship after the show. They go to various festivals across the state.
Once they felt their skills were marketable and they had sold panels, they felt ready to invest more and buy a commercial grade printer. They searched for an experienced lender to help small business owners achieve their dreams.
This research led them to the Southeast Kentucky Economic Development Corp. (SKED). They learned that the nonprofit lender not only provides small business loans, but also provides free business advice and training to help give their business the edge it needs to be successful.
SKED’s SBA microcredit program was the perfect solution to finance their equipment purchase.
“We feel fortunate that we not only secured a small business loan through SKED, but we also appreciate the advice and support provided to us from the start,” Mitchell said. “SKED has provided us with multiple resources and personnel to ensure our success.”
As part of the SBA Microcredit Funding, SKED training staff assisted owners with additional training on digital software, social media support, and website design.
Smith says working to help small business owners realize and reap the benefits of a successful website and digital media plan is one of his most enjoyable jobs.
“Working with Johnny and Kelly has been great,” Smith said. “They have been open and ready to try new technology outside of their comfort zone and continue to amaze customers with the products they make. If you are a car enthusiast and want to show your pride and joy call them. And if you can’t catch a show to visit them, keep an eye out for their website and online store coming out soon. “
For Flatt-Broke Sign Works, the story continues to grow and develop. Learn more about Flatt-Broke Sign Works by following them at https://www.facebook.com/FlattBrokeSignWorks and discover them on the next Somernites cruise.