Lee Bowen left behind several successful businesses built around cattle and agricultural finance and moved his family to Omaha, Nebraska seeking services for a sick child in the mid 1980’s. He started Signs & Shapes in the family basement in 1989, as a distributor for air-inflated internally lit signs. Mr. Bowen was looking for a fun business in which he could involve his family. And Signs & Shapes fit the bill – his wife contributed to operations and he sometimes found it convenient to zip his children inside the signs, with a roll of paper towels and a bottle of isopropyl alcohol. This sign-cleaning / self-contained babysitting arrangement made the Bowens the envy of their suburban neighbors, who worked at normal jobs with no such perks. The parent company soon went bankrupt and, left with no source of products to sell, the Bowens had to quit – just kidding, they buckled down, shrugged off their complete lack of experience, and set-up their own manufacturing operation.
In addition to manufacturing, Mr. Bowen also had no experience in marketing or promotion. He grew the company, slowly, with a fierce dedication to building the best possible products and providing standout customer service. It’s working. The company expanded to inflatable WalkAround® costumes in the mid-Nineties and more recently has begun producing larger scale high quality inflatables.
Today Signs & Shapes is run by Lee Bowen and his son Scott, who joined the company fulltime in 2004. The company focus remains squarely fixed on providing the best products and customer experience possible – two things which Signs & Shapes is quite good at.