What local Phoenix organization has 64 solar panels, a half dozen autonomous, happy employees and a healthy, growing business? If you guessed Accurate Signs and Engraving, you’d be correct. Jim Mapstead and his team are in the business of making signs. Most of these are for solar companies that are required on the panels and systems before they can be utilized. They are simple, well done and educate individuals how to operate and provide safety information.
Warning panels that Accurate Signs fabricates for solar panel companies
As you walk into their operations, a wave of simplicity and ease wash over you. The space is open, displaying a transparent decision-making process, the colors are serene and smiles among the employees are abundant. I feel the playful spirit when I ask for Jim and he claims there is no Jim there and inquires as to if I am with the FBI. His secretary chuckles in the background, I feel this may happen often. We sit down in his office and he walks me through why his small building utilizes so much energy. Accurate Signs has two premium laser cutters for sign etching and a third that is utilized on occasion. These absorb a lot of energy and generate a lot of heat that must be balanced by the air conditioning. This made the decision to jump to solar incredibly easy for Jim.
A glance into Accurate's world of sign fabrication and engraving
He takes me out back to see the solar panels, installed just this past December. There are a total of 64 panels between the awning that covers the vehicles and the roof of his business. Jim prides his company’s decision to utilize Empire Solar to install the system and states that the poles holding the system up stretch thirteen feet into the dirt below us. He informs me that his power bill was reduced from approximately $850 to around $150 a month since installation and that he is excited to see the impact they have in the hotter, summer months. This is how Accurate Signs reduces their impact on the local environment and this is where I began to see Jim’s drive for a balance of the environment, equity and the economy.
Left: The control panel for the solar panels. Right: Solar panels built over the parking area.
The focus on sustainable awareness stretches into Jim’s personal life, as is evident in the electric car he drives. I hopped if for a smooth, quiet and speedy ride as Jim retorted some of his history and how he ended up in the Arizona sign business. He walks me through moving to Washington DC in his youth to support his beliefs and make proactive change. He got married at the Lincoln Memorial Reflection Pool, then moved out to Arizona where he bought Accurate Signs without prior knowledge of the sign industry, jumped into it, got the right people to work with him and now prides himself on the fact that his employees don’t even really need him.
Jim stated multiple times that his motivation to do something was made because “it just made sense.” He does not make decisions on the fly, but does his research on how his decisions impact his company. It’s not just economic gain he takes into account but the social equity of his employers, fellow Phoenicians and the surrounding arid environment. He has forged a web of intelligent, insightful people to bring his big questions to in order to ensure he makes sounds and well purveyed decisions.
Accurate Signs operations mimic their purpose. They engage the community genuinely and provide a successful and sustainable example to entrepreneurs just starting out, businesses that have been at it for years and individuals such as myself. They are a sustainable company by every definition that makes decisions based on what they find to be right for their community.