FASTSIGNS International, Inc., the leader in signs, graphics and visual communications, has been selected as one of fifteen national recipients of the 2016 Secretary of Defense Employer Support Freedom Award (commonly referred to as the "Freedom Award"). FASTSIGNS International, Inc. Business Consultant from Indianapolis, Indiana and Air Force Reservist Stephen MacKenzie nominated his employer for their personal and financial support provided during his most recent deployment overseas. Prior to receiving this award, FASTSIGNS International, Inc. was the only recipient to be awarded the Pro Patria award in Texas, which is awarded to a company for their leadership and support of their employees who serve in the National Guard and Reserve.
The Freedom Award is the highest recognition presented by the Department of Defense to employers for their exemplary support of National Guard and Reserve members. During Stephen's deployment overseas, the MacKenzie family received an outpouring of support from FASTSIGNS International, which included care packages to Stephen with notes and mementos, and personalized gifts for every major milestone and holiday, and many times in between, being sent to Stephen's wife, Cynthia, and his three teenage children. In addition, the company made sure his salary was not affected during his time overseas and provided the difference in his military compensation and corporate pay during the full time period. Upon his return, MacKenzie received a welcome home party attended by FASTSIGNS International CEO Catherine Monson where he was presented with a personalized "welcome home" banner and a customized shadowbox created by his co-workers.
"My employer, FASTSIGNS International, Inc., interacted with me regularly and cared for me during my involuntary activation in support Operation Enduring Freedom and Operation Inherent Resolve" said Stephen MacKenzie. "They were in constant contact with my family. It's overwhelming to put into words the way they had my "6" during my deployment for the Air Force Reserve. I realize that not all of those who serve are receiving the same level of engagement and consideration. As a company, FASTSIGNS International, Inc. and especially our CEO Catherine Monson, did more for me than I ever expected, in honor of my service! This had a phenomenal impact as I reintegrated back into the civilian world. The ongoing support from FASTSIGNS has continued to be very humbling, and our family is full of gratitude!"
Stephen's wife Cynthia shared, "When my husband left we missed major events and holidays, everything from birthdays and our wedding anniversary to Thanksgiving, Christmas and Valentine's Day together. The employees at FASTSIGNS International (known as my FASTSIGNS family) were sending handwritten cards and gifts as a constant reminder of their unending support for all of these events and "just because". My family received group and individual cards on a three to four week cycle. Catherine represents the company as the CEO, and she represented FASTSIGNS to my family! This outstanding support for Stephen, the children and I during his deployment was a yearlong commitment by FASTSIGNS International. My life has been enriched by this faithful service for us!"
"We are honored to be named one of the recipients of this prestigious national recognition from the Department of Defense and will continue to uphold the values we believe in as part of our corporate responsibility to our employees and to our military," saidCatherine Monson, CEO of FASTSIGNS International, Inc. "It's an honor to be in the company of the other winning companies and organizations - well-respected global brands and public safety and fire departments across the country. We will continue to support our employees who serve our country, and we hope that more companies will get on board and do the same thing for the veterans, service men and women, reservists and National Guard members they employ. We don't feel we did anything out of the ordinary or something different than every company should do. I hope that we can use this honor to educate and motivate other company leaders to give similar personal and financial support to their reservists and National Guard team members."
The fourteen other recipients include: Alaska Airlines, Albuquerque Police Department, Benjamin Franklin Plumbing, Burford Corporation, Carolinas Healthcare System, Clackamas County Sheriff's Office, Delmarva Veteran Builders, Hope Valley Industries, Idaho State Police, Lowe's, Maryland State Police, Prairie Grove Consolidated School District 46, Seattle Fire Department and The Goodyear Tire & Rubber Company. A formal ceremony at the Pentagon will take place on August 26 to honor this year's Freedom Award recipients.
Over 10 percent of FASTSIGNS franchisees are military veterans. Veterans possess a number of valued skills and a wealth of experience essential to corporate positions and successful franchise business ownership. Veterans are disciplined, driven, self-motivated and obtain leadership skills that make them ideal franchisees.