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Neon sign

The Neon Sign Guy

Juan Ortega

Well it all started back in the past century, on a hot summer day of 1988. I started working part time in a sign company analyzing the financial side of the business because the owner (relative)wanted to know where the money was going to , and the way to better manage his business .I was in between jobs (unemployed)and i had some experience in finances so i went ahead with the task.

While doing that i got to know a lot of the sign business and i liked it , one day the glass bender quit , after 25 years in that company he just quit and went ahead to establish his own company , which by the way is still doing very well. So the owner was without a glass bender again , that had happen to him 4 times in the 45 years that the company had been in existence, he always said that the glass benders always left to do their own neon , that last glass bender was the first one that had lasted the most.

I saw how two guys tried for about a month at training for the open position but gave up , meanwhile a friend of my relative who used to work for him as a glass bender but had his own business now was coming over to do the bending for the jobs that had to be done. But he couldn't keep up with his work in his shop and helping out at my relatives place.

That's when my relative ask me if i wanted to learn to bend glass, i told him that i was going to think about it , he told me, well make up your mind fast because i cant wait forever .

I went to see the glass bender work (his name is Alfonso Acevedo),to see what i was getting myself into ,that is if i decided to go ahead .First thing that hit me was the heat , it was summer and the temperature outside was about 100 degrees and inside the neon shop it was about 115 deg.but the glass bender convinced me to go ahead and learn .I remember what he told me ,he said " There are only 3 glass benders in the whole city and we have all the work that we can handle" and he also told me ""you can make even more money making your own neon and selling it , i don't think your relative would mind "

That did it, i started the next day.

Thanks to Alfonso Acevedo i learned how to bend glass for neon signs,he was a very good teacher,thanks Poncho.

Two months later i managed to do a very simple sign , it took me about eight hours of pain and suffering to do it , that day my teacher didn't come to work because we were up to date on the jobs, so i took the whole day to do that sign , the next day when he came in he took a look at it and said "sorry it's not good enough", and told me to save it so i could compare my progress later.Two months later one day he told me that he had a big job and that he would not be able to come for about a month , so i was on my own , i did the best i could , and more than once the installers laughed at my work.But as time went on i got better and was able to do all the jobs.

Four years later my relative had to close the business due to the bad economy of the time just like the one we are in right now, but two years after that he reopened his business , with a lot less employees and a lot smaller place but he was back on his feet. He past away 3 years ago at the age of 95, his grand son took over the business and is still in business today trying to keep afloat in this economy,but doing well.

Well that's my story of how i got started in this business of neon signs ,been doing neon ever since and love it ,plan on doing neon till the day that i die.




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