entr epr e n e u r s
Story and photos by Jill Anderson
A Sign of the Times
Years ago, if a man and woman
started a business, it would have been rare for the woman to run it. Not so today. Kerrie Erikstrup is half-owner and operator of K & M Signs.
K & M Signs, Inc. is the husband and wife team of Kerrie and Mark Erikstrup and for the past 23 years Kerrie has been the main one running the business. Mark has worked a full time job, but helps when he can with the technical design, painting and fabrication. Originally from Eagan, Minn., Mark took a job in the Deerwood area in 1994, and Kerrie thought about what she could do for work. A few years earlier, they needed registration numbers for their Jet Ski and Kerrie decided it looked like an interesting business. “I checked into sign software and cutters to see what was involved, borrowed some money to purchase the minimal equipment and soon I was making signs!” Kerrie is surprised at how her initial curiosity evolved into the full-time business she’s run now for years. Originally, Kerrie went to Dunwoody for machine drafting, but now loves her field of work, learning a lot from many people in the sign business and trade events over the years. “It’s nice to be able
Winter 2013 | her voice
to work in an industry willing to share the process with you so you can better your own work,” Kerrie says. In 1990, she took a small business class at the technical college in Rosemount, which helped the business side, and her clients began to grow by word of mouth. Kerrie ran it as a part-time business until they moved to Deerwood when it became her full-time job. She ran the business out of their home until they purchased a lot in the Ironton Industrial Park and built a building in 2007. Kerrie explained how her work has changed over the years. “I went from strictly vinyl lettering and graphics, to painting, routering, sandblasting, 3D signs and vehicle wraps.” Over the years, they added a lot of equipment to help the signmaking process, hoping to be a full service sign shop for the area. “Mark has helped out behind the scenes since the beginning, and it will be nice to have him full-time in the near future as my workload has increased greatly. We’re very grateful that business
has been good.” Kerrie says the best part of her job is that every job is different and challenging. “I’m my own boss and can try new ideas,” she says, “and I enjoy working on ideas with my customers.” With every job, there is a downside and for Kerrie, it’s the bookwork — the only part of the job she considers stressful. But she has so many hobbies and interests it helps diffuse the bookwork. I met Kerrie years ago through the Brainerd Curling Club. She’s one of those people who is always smiling, always game for anything, never one to just sit and watch. Some hobbies she’s been able to incorporate into her sign business. Kerrie enjoys welding and creating “yard art” from scrap metal and reclaimed objects. She also enjoys woodworking and blacksmithing has become her new obsession. “A gal can’t have too many anvils and forges!” Kerrie jokes. “There is something satisfying about heating metal to an orange glow and
Published on Nov 25, 2013
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