Awards & Engraving

September '19

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62 • A&E SEPTEMBER 2019 L ife often doesn't pause to let us catch our breath or decide how it should go. Its ebbs and flows often affect everything we do in unplanned ways. Nowhere are life's "little" challenges felt more strongly than in a small business. DeWayne Acree is all too familiar with life's idiosyncrasies. As the owner of The Laser Place LLC, an online business that produces personalized and specialty gift products such as ornaments, he knows a little something about dealing with a curveball head-on. He has experienced everything from serving as a Medical Ser- vice Corps officer in the Army Reserve to being a husband and father and running a veteran-owned business, but to his credit, and perseverance, none of the challenges have derailed him or his family. CHAPTER ONE To tell any story, plot twists and all, you have to start at the beginning. Though it goes by The Laser Place today, that wasn't always the business name, nor has the family always been in their current Augusta, Georgia location for the entire duration of its existence. To really hear DeWayne tell it, it all started with his military service. "I was a Medical Service Corps officer in the Army Reserve, and I was called to active duty in 2003 in preparation of deployment to Iraq," he begins, but as life would have it, he did not end up deploying, and thank- fully was able to be around when his third child, Caleb, was born. "I was overjoyed that I was able to see my son born… and I thought of those men and women deployed who weren't able to be with their children," he reminisces. "This was how I came up with idea of making wooden puzzles, and beyond that, I wanted to make some type of personalized wooden puzzle." Originally dubbed You Name It LLC, the company was born in Fort Wayne, Indiana in 2005. When the family made the move to Augusta in 2010, they decided a new name was needed to better encom- pass what they did, and in 2013, The Laser Place became the official moniker. Today, it's run as a veteran-owned busi- ness, and is purely family-based, with all four Acree kids pitching in. "I think it is important to recognize all veterans for their service," DeWayne asserts. "Because of the way the business began and my military background, I try to still have the military By Cassie Green Shop Profile: The Laser Place A family business that has seen life's challenges and faced them head-on The Acree family from left to right: Caleb, Lillian, DeWayne, Jodi, Isaiah, and Gabrielle. The business has always been run by the family, with all of the kids fulfilling different roles. ALL IMAGES COURTESY DEWAYNE ACREE Jodi and Dewayne making specialized Christmas ornaments. The business started out selling at various hobby and craft shows but now utilizes online platforms such as Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram, Etsy, and its own site. Jodi (left) oversees quality control and bulk orders while daughter Gabrielle lends a hand to the design work.

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