A story told in Custom Neon

The Custom Neon team.

Carole Levy

It all started when Jake and Jessica Munday posted pics on Instagram of the neon signs they got for their young son, Jagger, and for their wedding.

People took notice and soon they were getting quotes for friends from a supplier they’d managed to find. As an entrepreneur, Jake – who won the Deakin University Young Entrepreneur of the Year in the 2017 Geelong Business Excellence Awards – saw a business in the making.

In 2018, Custom Neon was launched. Today, the couple employ 34 team members globally, and the business is the world’s largest neon manufacturer, with factories in Los Angeles, Shanghai and in-house.

But Jessica and Jake still had time to gather with their local team upstairs at Geelong’s Alma Restaurant, the party of 10 sharing tapas and desserts as they eagerly watched the GBEA virtual awards night.

Excitement was high when their name was called out.

“It was great for all of us,” says Jake. “The event was really well put-together and a real coup for the local Chamber of Commerce – congrats to them.”

While Jake was an old hand at completing the award application process, he emphasised that it was very worthwhile repeating it for Custom Neon’s turn.

“It gave us a chance to reflect on just what we’d achieved as a team. It was a ‘stop and smell the roses’ situation, but also revealed where we could think differently, identified areas that needed improvement, and showed us where we could do more in our community and for the environment.”

Jake says that the business success is in part their ‘people and culture’ approach.

“This is led by Jess, who has an HR background. Every month we have team meetings around shared food, and we listen and ensure our staff have everything they need to thrive, including training courses that set them up with skills for the future.”

The dynamic couple is entering this year’s GBEA “for sure”.

“We have a good story to tell, and we’ll enjoy it. As we continue to grow, it gives us another chance to stop and celebrate, win or not.

“But this time, we’re going for the biggest gong, Business of the Year. Why not?” Jake asks with a chuckle.