Faces in the Crowd: Gary Vanthull

February 10, 2020

Gary Vanthull

Quite some time ago, Damon DuBois, the Executive Director of the Clare Area Chamber of Commerce, recommended that I interview Gary Vanthull, the owner of Vinyl Graphics Signs located at 2141 Ludington Drive in Clare. I finally got hold of him and arranged an interview at his studio. Arriving at the appointed time, I found him practicing his golf swing in a specially arranged area of the studio. He welcomed me with a firm handshake and had me sit in a comfortable chair alongside a long drafting table. Several examples of his signs are displayed at his studio, and he has a layout that is adaptable to literally any kind or size of sign.

Gary was born in 1957 in Detroit. He attended Warren Woods High School in Warren, where he played baseball in his high school years. He also developed his drawing skills in these years. He graduated from high school in 1975.

Shortly after graduation, he began working for Microphoto, Inc., which specializes in etched metal parts and photoetching services. They produce prototype, experimental, short-run, and low-volume parts out of most metals. They work with worldwide industries, including aerospace, medical, dental, military, electronics, alternative energy, automotive, computer, and decorative industries. With most parts manufactured using a photochemical machining process, they also supply parts using more conventional processes, including stamping, laser cutting, and wire.

Gary says their etching process basically combined chemistry and photography, and produced parts usable by literally any industry. He spent 20 years working for the company, eventually reaching the position of Plant Manager, and later Head of Sales.

From 1995 to 2001 Gary was a Health and Life Insurance Agent. He represented a variety of insurance providers, such as Blue Cross and Fidelity.

In 1996, he moved to Swartz Creek, a suburb of Flint. About 4 years later, he moved to Lake of the Pines, where he started his lawn care service called Primary Lawn Care.

In 1999, he married Michelle, and the marriage produced two children: (1) Morgan, 18, who graduated from Farwell High School. She was State champion in Competitive Cheer for two years in a row. She will soon be entering college. (2) Hannah, 16, who is a sophomore at Farwell High School. She loves to play volleyball and soft ball. Both Morgan and Hannah participated in track.

In 2001, Gary was hired as a bus driver by the Farwell Public Schools. He said this job was “the highlight of my life.” He thoroughly enjoyed watching the kids grow and seeing what they were becoming. After 15 years on this job, he retired. However, even though he’s retired, he still substitutes whenever necessary.

In 2008, he started his business called Vinyl Graphics Signs. Initially, his home office was in his back yard. Four years later, he moved to his current location. At this time, he also added screen printing to his business. His signs can be lighted, in full color, for the yard, or for exterior or interior. He also creates banners, decals, vehicle lettering or logos. His screen printing can be done on T-shirts, hats, hoodies, or any similar garments. Embroidery is also available. His business motto is “A Business with No Signs Are Signs of No Business.” He can be contacted at 989-588-9496.

First and foremost, Gary says the most important thing about himself is that he is a Christian. He attends the Church of the Nazarene. In addition, he conducts men’s Bible studies every Wednesday night at his home. Christ is the center of every aspect of his life.

Most people don’t know that he spends a great deal of time devoted to golf. He’s even a Ranger at Snow Snake Ski and Golf in Harrison, where he takes part in the maintenance of the greens and helps in many other ways. He says he’s not the greatest golfer in the world, but he is truly passionate about the game. This passion even extends to practicing his golf swing in mid-winter in his studio.

I asked Gary what was his most embarrassing moment. He said that he has created signs with misspelled words, which he had to do over again. “That’s a really big no-no in this business,” he added.

I asked Gary if he could be anywhere else but here, right this minute, where would it be? “Florida,” he answered. He also indicated that he has a brother and sister who live in that state.

When he was 10 years old, Gary thought he would grow up working in something related to art and drawing. Since he is now designing signs and creating designs for screen printing, he has reached his childhood wishes.

Gary says he would like to be remembered first as a Christian, then as a good Father and Husband. Family is very important to him.

I asked Gary to give me three phrases that he would use to describe himself. “Fast-paced, laughing, and having fun all the time,” he said. On the other hand, he thought his colleagues would describe him as “A hard worker, a man who does things right, and an imaginative person.”

I asked him what he wanted to make sure he accomplished before he died. He responded, “I want to make sure my two daughters are well-situated in life before I die.”

Gary says he has set two goals for himself. First of all, he wants to become the top in his field. Secondly, he wants to golf at as many golf courses as he can.

Gary thoroughly enjoys cooking as well. He has a relative who is a nutritionist, and he has learned how to cook nutritious as well as delicious meals. He used to have somewhat bad eating habits, but he has now changed his diet to healthier foods and cooking methods.

What is he happiest doing when he’s not working? He responded that he loves spending time with his family. What else? Of course, he once again expressed his love for the game of golf.

There was a time not long ago that Gary loved to hunt for deer and small game. Many years earlier, his father instructed him that an animal should never be killed unless it was meant to be eaten, so Gary has followed this guidance throughout his life. Gary says it’s been a while since he’s gone hunting, mainly because many other things in his life have taken higher priority.

I asked Gary if he had ever traveled outside the country. He responded that he once took a 10-day missionary trip to the Dominican Republic.

Gary’s favorite food is seafood. He doesn’t have much interest in watching television, but he does like the “Survivor” episodes.

If you would like to develop a sign for your business or for any other purpose, Gary Vanthull is the man to see. He can help you create a unique, highly visible sign with a professional look that’s just right for you. In addition, he is also capable of providing high-quality screen printing on materials of your choice.

Once again, as with all the folks I have interviewed, I can say that I thoroughly enjoyed interviewing Gary. He is far more than just a face in the crowd.

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