Saturday, July 13, 2024

Face Time: Mary Sol Gonzalez

Owner, Image 360; Diamond Award Recipient

Mary Sol Gonzalez never thought in a million years she’d be a businesswoman.

Or that she’d be this year’s recipient of the prestigious Diamond Award from the Boca Raton Chamber of Commerce. That would have been a long shot for the sheltered young Venezuelan woman with a psychology degree who left her parents’ home to marry husband Abilio in 1986.

The young family spent the next 20-some years bouncing around the world from one corporate post to another, for companies like Warner-Lambert and Pepsi-Cola. First, there was Morristown, N.J., then the Philippines, then on to places like Ann Arbor, Mich., Rio de Janiero, Mexico City, Seattle, Switzerland. Abilio traveled 90 percent of the time.

Most wives with a child would have held on for dear life, trying to adjust to a continually shifting New Normal. But Gonzalez was built a little differently; she plunged into each new community and got involved, from helping to “adopt” an orphanage in Manila to wildlife conservation in Geneva.

It’s the kind of symmetry that ultimately followed her to Boca Raton, with one main difference: She became a business owner.

In 2009, the family opened a Signs Now franchise in Margate. With her semi-retired husband in more of an advisory role, Gonzalez took the bull by the horns from the start, growing the company by 200 percent in its first few years. It is now known as Image 360, operating out of Boca Raton since February 2014.

“At the beginning it was hard,” she says. “I didn’t have a sign background, and my husband had been in the corporate world all his life. We wanted to have something that was family-owned that would allow us to be local, that was the first thing.”

The company produces high-tech signage and logos for vehicles, including wraps, and does a lot of work for the real estate, construction and trade show industries. Gonzalez sees the company as more than one that makes signs; she stresses the fact that she works closely with customers from the outset, identifying their needs, and advising them accordingly.

“Running the company [for me] was a shock at the beginning,” she says. “I was a little bit afraid. One day I said, “This is it—I will go there and be myself. What I know is how to relate to people and do the best [for them].”

For more from this year’s Diamond Award Recipient, pick up the March/April issue of Boca Raton magazine.

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