Ghassan Barazi - CEO of Signarama Canada

Date: FEB 27th, 2013

Topic: Interview with a CEO

Ghassan Barazi, a mechanical engineer with a strong entrepreneurial drive, began his career as a business owner in 1989 when he formed CAD Venture, a company specializing in computer aided design for the automotive industry. In 1991, Ghassan tapped into the emerging laser technology industry and co-founded The Laser Eye Institute which, by the end of 1998, evolved into ICON Laser Eye Centres, Inc. ICON quickly become the fastest growing laser vision correction business in the world. With a global reach extending across North America and Europe and into South America, ICON became the world-leader and international provider of Excimer Laser Vision Correction (LVC), growing to 40 centres world-wide. Ghassan also spent a considerable portion of his career developing highly successful plastic surgery programs for private and public medical facilities in Detroit and Las Vegas prior to 2008 when he became the President & CEO of CI Pharma, a radiopharmaceutical supply company and Care Imaging Cancer Diagnostic Centre, a privatized cancer diagnostic imaging company with locations in both Windsor and the Greater Toronto Area.

After a lengthy career in medical, Ghassan became fascinated with the franchise industry and saw the opportunity in 2011 to purchase the Canadian master licenses for SIGN-A-RAMA, the world’s largest sign franchise and Plan Ahead Events, the world’s largest event management franchise. Ghassan now uses his extensive business background to build both franchise systems and offers unparalleled support to his franchisees.

BeTheBoss: Tell us about the SIGN-A-RAMA concept.

Ghassan Barazi: SIGN-A-RAMA is the world’s largest sign franchise system designed to put people with no prior sign-industry experience into a system of business success. For over 25 years, SIGN-A-RAMA has been helping people create signs of all kinds in a Monday to Friday, business-to-business (B2B) environment that requires only a very small staff and a non-perishable inventory. SIGN-A-RAMA Canada has over 3 dozen stores from coast to coast, and thousands of locations world-wide.

BTB: How and when did you become involved with SIGN-A-RAMA?

GB: I joined SIGN-A-RAMA in 2011 and was recruited to design and expand the franchise program across Canada.

BTB: What was your background prior to joining SIGN-A-RAMA?

GB: I was the Founder and CEO of several cutting-edge medical companies.

BTB: What are some of the advantages in being a SIGN-A-RAMA franchisee?

GB: Volume buying power, powerful brand recognition, retailing the best sign products in the world, national advertising, extensive training and support, advertising by supplier brands, AAA locations.

BTB: Who is your ideal franchisee?

GB: People with excellent work ethics, who are driven to succeed. Ideally they are ambitious, great communicators with some sales ability and are a good at managing people.

BTB: Tell us a little about the Sign Industry market?

GB: The professional sign industry is in the billions in Canada and is one of the few recession proof businesses in the world – let’s face it, when there is no sign on the business there is no sign of business!

BTB: What are some of the greatest lessons you’ve learned in growing this franchise?

GB: Location, ambition, and support for the right franchisee are the keys. Encouraging franchisees to keep with the proven methods for success within the franchise system – after all, the brand has over 25 years of success and thousands of thriving locations internationally.

BTB: Do you have a mentor and is there someone you use for inspiration?

GB: Franchise giant, Ray Titus who is President and CEO of United Franchise Group (UFG). UFG is a world leader in franchise systems expanding a total of six different franchise brands which total over 1600 franchisees world wide.

BTB: What advice do you have for someone looking to acquire a Franchise?

GB: Make sure you are going to love the business and are not just looking at it for cash flow and investment. Look carefully at the strength of the organization determining that the key factors are in place; marketing, support, training, brand recognition and successful locations. Another important factor is asking if there are multiple store owners within the system.

BTB: In your opinion, why do you think that SIGN-A-RAMA would be a great opportunity for someone?

GB: Quite simply we have been a world leader in franchising for 25 years. We have many franchisees who own multiple stores many of whom have been with us since our inception. The formula works. It is a fun, exciting, fast moving and very positive business with great margins and not a lot of need for personnel.