Sign Spinning School via San Fernando Valley Business Journal
Written by Mark R. Madler
At the Southwest corner of Magnolia Boulevard and Tujunga Avenue, young men line up with aarrow-shaped signs in hand. At the head of the line is Justin Brown, an employee of AArrow Inc. and the instructor of the afternoon's free sign-spinning class at a park in Hollywood.
Pointing a finger at passing vehicles, Brown calls out, "white mini-van" or "red Honda" and the students take turns spinning and flipping their signs to catch the attention of the drivers that Brown identifies.
Watching as Brown puts his class through their paces are Max Durovic and Mike Kenny, the boyhood friends who co-founded AArrow, also in North Hollywood, as college students and now have a business that brought in $11 million in sales last year. The marketing firm supplies sign- spinners to other companies, and the students in the park are all AArrow employees.
While the weekly class on the surface may focus on how to safely perform tricks, sign -spinning also involves teamwork and physical fitness, the believe.
" There is a lot of camaraderie and mentorship that happens here," said the 33-year-old Durovic, Chief Executive. " It's good to be part of a positive group."
While Aarrow may not be alone in providing sign spinners for clients that include home builders and retailers, they are likely the oldest, having started the company in 2002 when Durovic and Kenny were both in college. By the time they graduated, the company was
making its first million.
Aarrow operates on a franchise model and has spinners working in 35 cities in 10 countries.
Many cities start hiring at $12 an hour. Improving a spinner’s skills – one reason for Brown’s class – brings an increase on the pay scale.
Christian Altamirano was candid about what made him come to Aarrow out of high school in 2009. It was the money. The company was paying $10 an hour, well above the minimum wage of the time. Within three months, he was making $13.50 an hour. Now Altamirano is general manager of the Los Angeles office. A former spinner himself, Altamirano said a quality necessary for the position is a great, outgoing attitude. “The tricks can only do so much,” he added. “It’s how you use the tricks and put a smile on everyone’s face.” Another reason Aarrow spinners want to improve is to make it to the World Sign Spinning Championships that take place in Las Vegas.
The competition was started by Aarrow as Durovic and Kenny see the activity as a sport that has its own lingo and standardized equipment. The signs, for example, are always 72 inches long and weigh just less than 5 pounds. Some recognized tricks are the Helicopter Toss, the Fire Hydrant and the Bruce Lee Spin. “They want to be the best in the world at this,” Kenny said of the students. There is one industry secret that many drivers who pass by Aarrow sign spinners may not know. If you honk, they’ll do better tricks for you. “If you know that, you’re going to get a much better show on the corner,” Kenny said.