This summer, it seemed the tides were turning for Accent Signage Systems, the company and life's work of entrepreneur Reuven Rahamim, who was one of five slain yesterday by a disgruntled former employee.
The business, founded by Rahamim in the 1980s, was once again gaining ground after enduring hard times during the recession. According to a recent profile in Finance & Commerce, the interior-signage company depended heavily on clientele in the construction industry, which flatlined after 2008. When construction slowed, then stalled, there was little demand for new room numbers, directional signs and restroom plaques that the company made.
“I knew we needed to find another niche,” 61-year-old Rahamim told the publication.
He soon found a new angle that would prove to be the company's saving grace: Accent went green, making signs from recycled materials and energy-efficient light-emitting diode (LED) bulbs, and they went abroad, seeking international customers.
“He’s like a mad scientist...He likes to solve problems; doesn’t shy away from them even if it might not be a profitable endeavor right away,” said Scott Parizek, principal at Cubic USA, a retail fixtures company in Burnsville that worked closely with the firm.
“The world is full of lighting suppliers,” Parizek added. “What they offer is local customization and their willingness to try new things.”
At the time of Rahamim's death, the company was poised for an era of growth and prosperity. As of July, Accent's revenues had grown 11 percent over the previous year. Rahamim was planning to increase his staff by 25 percent and add 10,000 square feet of warehouse space to accommodate the company's burgeoning workload.
Through it all, Parizek said, Rahamim remained committed to his employees' wellbeing. After weeks under the gun, he personally flew to a Tumi luggage store in California to see that Accent's lighting was properly installed properly. Parizek said Rahamim made the trip to spare his staff the added stress.
“He didn’t want to cut into his employees’ schedule,” Parizek told F & C on Friday.
Rahamim was apparently shot and killed by Andy Engeldinger, 36, who had recently been fired. Armed with a Glock 9 mm, Engeldinger stormed the Accent office in Minneapolis' Bryn Mawr neighborhood on Thursday afternoon, killing four people and then himself. Of the dead, only Rahamim and United Parcel Service driver Keith Basinski, 50, have been identified. Two people remain hospitalized. As of Friday afternoon, news was released that one more victim had died, bringing the total death toll to six.
See more on this story:
• Spring Lake Park Man Killed in Minneapolis Workplace Shooting
• Read a touching tribute to Rahamim by F & C Journalist Chris Newmarker.
• Poll: Does Thursday's Minneapolis Shooting Show a Need for More Gun Restrictions?