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As a small business owner, I’ve been reflecting on our business and our goals.  It has become clear to me that in business and in life we often have to take a step back and reevaluate the direction in which things are moving.   I needed to step back, analyze, and adjust our missions and our goals.

For me, taking a step back meant taking a step WAY back and looking at the foundation of my leadership skills.  I grew up having very successful mentors in my life.

On one side of my family,  I looked to my grandfather John Bender Jr. He was a great leader in business and throughout the community.  He molded me in every aspect of business.  My grandad taught me the most important thing in business is how to provide great service to customers.  I can still hear my granddad say “when you are talking on the phone I want them to be able to see your smile through the phone.”

On the other side of my family, I looked to my grandfather Dr. Jack Hinton.   My entire life he served in Baptist churches in Eastern North Carolina. I watched him love each and every person in the community and in his church.  My grandfather’s genuine compassion for those around him taught me that all of the people around me should be treated as family – treated with the same kind of love that Christ showed me.

My final influence is the perfect example of a true team – the marriage of my parents.  I would say it is my parents who have guided the major changes in the way I see business these past few years.  My father continues to be my mentor in business. He has always demonstrated sound decision making along with compassion. There is no better example of a compassionate leader in business than Wade Bender. My mother has developed my passion for Christ more than anyone in my life.  She is unique because she has been a part of both worlds; business and church.  Sharon was the original CEO of Bender Graphics and is currently the Senior Pastor of Pollocksville Baptist Church.  Her hard work is what gave me the opportunity to pursue this career.  During this time of change, I spent countless hours on the phone with her looking to her wisdom for guidance.  It is clear to me that this would not have been possible without her guidance and counsel.

As I reflected on my own foundation and history, I realized that I was called to do more than just run a business.  I was placed in this position today so that I can do for others what so many have done for me. I have been called to mentor, to guide, to show compassion, to show faith, and to show love.

After much thought, I realized I needed to dream a new dream and I wanted to dream big. The first goal was to define the vision for Bender Apparel and Signs. After almost 2 months the mission statement came together.

To me, the Mission Statement is more than just words.  This Mission Statement is the basis of every decision I make in the company, from what products to sell to how to interact with every team member and customer.   Every decision stems from the desire to show compassion, to extend superior service and provide quality products.


After working to align to our mission statement, I have seen so many people affected.  It is not easy to implement, but I can testify that it is the most rewarding experience that has ever happened in my professional career.

Mission Statement

The compassionate working environment at Bender Apparel & Signs provides a foundation for teamwork.
This compassion extends to each customer resulting in superior service and quality custom products.

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