For Junior and Judy Dietzel, owners of Bee Seen Signs in Jefferson City, the sweet spot of being a business owner is where creativity and hard work intersect. It’s how they’ve been able to build a successful business over the last 40 years — by working at it together.
Junior worked at G&H Electric & Signs in the late 1960s and also built race cars for the owner of the company. In 1976, he had the opportunity to buy the company, but it was an investment that would take everything Junior and Judy owned, including borrowing additional money from friends. With no guarantees or safety net if they failed, the couple took the leap and bought the company, complete with a name change to Bee Seen Signs. It was not an easy decision.
“I didn’t want him to ever say I should have done that and to have regrets about not buying the business,” recalls Judy. “We hocked everything to go into business, but you have to be all in as a business owner. You have to give 110% and you have to love it!”
Over the years, they’ve been able to take their business of neon, illuminated, and electronic signs to a whole new level in Jefferson City. They both still fondly remember their first big job as business owners, when they completed all the signage for Capital Mall when it was built in 1979. Their excitement of working with customers and creating unique signs for this community has not dulled over the years.
“Customers come here and they may not know what they want. We get to create it, fabricate it, and install it, plus we do service work. Everything we do is done here and is always quality-built to Junior’s high standards,” says Judy.
Bee Seen Signs has been at the same Jefferson City location since 1976, but they’ve built onto it six times and now have 12,000 square feet for their growing business. You can see the fruits of their labor all over town from clients such as the Miller Performing Arts Center and Unilever, and it’s the skilled team that makes that happen every day, including Junior and Judy’s two sons who work full-time in the family business.
Despite all the success, Junior and Judy both understand all too well how hard being a business owner can be for a family. Owning a business is a 24/7 job, but one that has allowed them to work as a unified team. With Junior turning 79 in July, the Dietzels are also thinking about succession planning, including retirement. While starting up was hard, saying goodbye is even harder, but it’s finally on their radar after four decades of hard work.
“We are hoping to pass the business and legacy on down the road to someone who loves it as much as we have,” says Junior.
“Work hard. Come early and stay late. We are the first one in the door and the last one out.”— Junior Dietzel
“A sense of humor has made it possible for us to work together and also be married for 52 years. We both have a wicked sense of humor.”— Judy Dietzel