Despite the loss of its founder and key employees, Accent Signage Systems, the Minneapolis company that was the site of a mass killing last month, plans to continue the family business.
At a news conference Monday, family members said that, while mourning the loss of co-workers, the company will continue to operate as a provider of interior signage for U.S. and international customers, including signs in the Braille language.
On Sept. 27, six people were fatally shot at the business by newly fired employee Andrew Engeldinger, 36, who then took his own life. Killed were company founder and owner Reuven Rahamim, Accent employees Eric Rivers, Ronald Edberg, Rami Cooks and Jacob Beneke and UPS driver Keith Basinski. Two others, Accent employees Battites Wesley and John Souter, were wounded and survived. It was the worst workplace violence in recent Minnesota history.
The business was closed immediately after the shootings, but reopened about two weeks ago. Nearly all of its 28 employees are back at work, said officials at the Bryn Mawr neighborhood company. "We are grateful to our customers, vendors and suppliers for all of their encouragement and assistance," said spokeswoman Wendy Khabie.
"Accent Signage knows where it's going," said Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak at Monday's news conference. "The family is continuing the family business."
Mark Andrew, president of GreenMark Enterprises of Eden Prairie, has faith that Accent Signage Systems can continue. The day before the shooting, the two firms were negotiating a strategic alliance in which Accent would work with GreenMark, a company that arranges corporate sponsorships that require signage. The negotiations have since continued with another member of the Rahamim family.
"The negotiations got delayed, but they didn't go away," Andrew said. "The people at Accent have to reinvent how the internal working of the company is going to function, but they seem to be on it, and that's a good sign."
But it won't be easy, said Shereen Rahamim, wife of the slain owner.
"Their loss has taken a tremendous toll on our company and had an unimaginable impact on our families," she said. "We take great comfort in the community's support during this troubled time. A fund established at Wells Fargo bank by the Bryn Mawr Neighborhood Association will help the victims' families.... We would encourage people to donate to that fund and other similar victims' funds."
Information about donations is available at the company's website, www.accent signage.com.
Staff writer Paul Walsh contributed to this article. Steve Alexander • 612-673-4553