Awards & Engraving

September '19

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A&E SEPTEMBER 2019 • a-e-mag.com 63 as some of our focus." For example, the shop sees a significant amount of business creating ornaments, plaques, and other products for different military units. "We have sent ornaments all over the world to different military units, and I am humbled that we get that chance to serve and con- tinue to be connected with the Armed Forces that way," he adds. EBBS AND FLOWS Like many other mom-and-pop person- alization shops around the nation, DeWayne gets all of his help from his family, with each member playing a crucial role in the busi- ness. "My oldest daughter does design work. The others help with a variety of things such as sanding, staining, tying ribbons, pack- aging, and readying the shipments," he lists. "We have had a couple of big jobs with short turnaround times, and when it's 'all hands on deck,' we pull together and work like a well-oiled machine." "All of our products and experiences are special and that is how we are able to con- nect with our customers," daughter Gabri- elle adds. "We understand the importance of being unique and that is why we try to make products that exemplify that." Growing up in the business means that many of life's memories revolve around it, explains daughter Lillian and son Caleb. "I have been able to see the business grow and develop as I have grown older and started helping out more," Lillian explains, with Caleb adding that his love for the laser has grown simply out of watching his dad work with wood. Not to be forgotten is youngest son Isaiah, who is also an important cog to the puzzle. "One of my first memories of the laser was an order from Kiwanis," he recalls. "For (that order) and other big orders my main job was to count and box the products." Overseeing all of this is the matriarch of the family, Jodi, who has experienced some challenging life encounters herself. In their first year in Augusta, she was diag- nosed with breast cancer, and thus began a long battle of focus on her health. "We knew that she would need extensive time to recover and get to what would become the new 'normal,'" DeWayne notes. But in a true testament to human spirit and strength, Jodi has battled hard and con- tinues to support the business, mainly over- seeing quality control and handling bulk ordering. "I'd be remiss if I didn't mention that she is that voice of reason at times," DeWayne laughs. "We have had ideas that seem like good ones at the time, but she provides a different point of view." For Jodi, it's all a part of the adventure. "It has been a truly amazing journey from the start of the business in Indiana to now," she feels. "DeWayne is very good at the mon- etary and business aspect of our projects, whereas I can offer a fresh set of ideas con- cerning the artistic aspects of the operation. That is what makes his business so special to us as a family — everyone is involved." THE STORY ISN'T OVER As the business continues to grow and change, DeWayne notes that someday a storefront is a possibility. But for now, they make good use of online options such as their own website (www.thelaserplace.net), Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram, and even platforms such as Etsy. But wouldn't you know it, that has all changed from what it used to be as well. "In the start, we would market our products at craft shows, holiday bazaars, and school events," DeWayne says. "This caused us to travel a lot in the beginning years. After we moved and my wife's illness, someone recommended that we check out Etsy." Ultimately, it's a balance between mul- tiple platforms and finding the right recipe that works for their business. And just like life throws challenges and changes their way, the Acree family has a few surprises of their own to return the favor. "We know we will have the opportunity to grow outside of this being a family business," DeWayne believes. "I'm just happy we have made this journey as a family. The lessons that our children learn from this experience are not taught in any classes; they're life les- sons about honoring our promises, being cost conscious, sharing our gifts, showing charity to others, and being humble." The Laser Place sees a significant amount of business selling customized ornaments, plaques, and other products for different branches of the military. A&E

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