Ad Spot

May 15, 2021

Spirit of Rowan: Drew Harwood’s work can be found across Rowan County

Harwood Signs got its start in a downtown Salisbury basement on South Main Street in 1954, but Drew Harwood is taking the family business to new heights decades later.

Drew, 36, owns and operates the business on Depot Street in Granite Quarry. On a February day, customers were first greeted by a large cutout of Bernie Sanders in a pose that became a viral meme earlier this year — sitting in a chair with mittens and a brown coat on at the presidential inauguration. There’s also a cutout of Harwood’s uncle waving, with the printing so realistic that it might be mistaken for a real person. Besides the friendly faces of Drew and other workers at the business, there’s also his dog, Ivey, who’s eager to receive some attention.

Things are much different now than when the business opened in the basement of a theater on South Main Street. Then, Boyd Harwood was doing things entirely by hand. Today, the business uses high-tech printers to make everything from stickers and yard signs to car decals. At Harwood Signs, they’re particularly proud of a new large, flat-bed printer with ink cartridges as big as 2 liter bottles. Chances are, Drew says, he can make any idea a reality if it involves graphic design, advertising or marketing.

When the Granite Quarry Fire Department needed a sign to celebrate its status as the smallest department in the state with a No. 1 ISO rating, it turned to Harwood Signs. A toddler-sized No. 1 with the fire department’s logo now sits somewhere in Raleigh after state officials liked it so much they brought it to the capital city with them. The business proudly posted pictures of Rowan County’s state legislators posing with the sign and an image of the sign in the State Fire Marshal’s Office.

Their handiwork can also be found on the sign for Christo’s restaurant in Salisbury, the town of Landis’ boardroom, on the side of law enforcement vehicles and etched into glass in a memorial in Salisbury’s newest fire station for Justin Monroe and Victor Isler — two firefighters who died while battling a 2008 fire at Salisbury Millworks.

Drew talks fondly about the business and the ability to run a business where he grew up. The small town environment is A-OK with him and that’s where he’s stayed. In particular, he doesn’t envy the traffic in larger cities. He’s got kids now. So, he can’t wake up, shower, grab some clothes and head to work, but the commute is short enough.

“If I’m away for a few days, I’m ready to get back,” he said. “I’ve not really had any ambitious to travel anywhere far away.”

Besides growing up in eastern Rowan County, he was also always around the shop and has never truly known anything other than the family business. Drew has worked jobs here and there for others after hours. “But as far as punching a time clock or logging my hours, I’ve never really worked for anybody else,” he said.

Today, the business has grown so much that jobs usually need to be scheduled a month or more out. Drew brought on Justin Overcash, who previously worked at a competing company and took significant chunk of business with him.

“The clients he dealt with have followed him and he’s brought a whole other business here,” Drew said

He looks at the future and worries about customers who might choose an impersonal experience on the internet rather than the customer service-oriented experience he strives for.

It’s important for Drew to provide a one-on-one experience.

“It’s nice to be able to come in and put your hands on what you ordered,” he said. “If something goes wrong, you want a person you can talk to. … Satisfying the customers is the ultimate goal.”

Running a business means work doesn’t always stop at 5 p.m., but in his free time Harwood enjoys being with friends and family. He hunts and fishes occasionally and lives in the eastern Rowan area with wife Abby and two daughters. He attends St. James Lutheran Church in Rockwell.

Comments

Local

Catawba holds baccalaureate services for Class of 2021

News

$9M settlement for two men wrongfully sent to death row

Nation/World

China lands spacecraft on Mars in latest advance for its space program

Business

Gas crunch hits Washington; Colonial Pipeline paid nearly $5 million in Bitcoin ransome

Coronavirus

State mostly returns to normal operations after 15 months of lockdowns, restrictions

Crime

Blotter: Man accused of stealing car, crashing it

Crime

Man faces new charge of attempted murder for father’s shooting

BREAKING NEWS

Gov. Cooper lifts indoor mask mandate for most situations, gathering limits

Crime

Barnes gets new punishment of two life sentences in Tutterow couple’s 1992 murder

High School

High school football: State’s top honor goes to Jalon Walker

Local

Scout’s Honor: With dedication of flag retirement box, Salem Fleming earns Eagle Scout rank

College

North Carolina king, queen of NCAA lacrosse tourneys

Education

Kannapolis seniors walk elementary schools

Local

Local real estate company employees come out in force to build Habitat house

Local

Quotes of the week

Coronavirus

Auditors find oversight lacking for $3 billion of state’s pandemic aid

Nation/World

When will gas situation return to normal?

Local

Rowan native Shuping posthumously receives Concord Police Department’s Medal of Valor, Purple Heart

News

GOP measure on penalties for rioting draws fire

News

Black high school softball player told to cut hair

Coronavirus

State shows 303 COVID-19 deaths in Rowan

Coronavirus

CDC: Fully vaccinated people can largely ditch masks indoors

Crime

One arrested, another hospitalized in Castor Road stabbing

China Grove

China Grove Roller Mill open for tours Saturday