JAMES B. HARMON: A MAN WITH KIND WORDS AND A KIND HEART
Every once in a while you will come across a person who will leave a lasting impression and you will walk away saying” I just met one of the most amazingly gifted and talented people I have ever met.” Of course James B. Harmon would just tell you that “he believes that “by good actions and living an honest clean life, working hard and understanding the needs around you will be rewarded for your actions.” Sometimes that reward is the knowledge that in your heart that you helped someone. At the young age of 92, he is still very active in his companies, Rainbow Neon Signs Co., Inc. and Rainbow Erectors Inc. The Company has flourished since his involvement in 1946 and his complete ownership in 1950. Since this time, he has watched the company grow beyond his anticipations to become one of the top sign manufacturing Companies in the southeast region. With large chain store customers and other businesses such as various restaurants, churches, schools, etc., the company has maintained a reputation for being one of the safest and highest quality manufacturing companies in the southeast region. Jim has a motto that “Everything needs to be done to perfection and with safety and good quality in mind. He wants products manufactured and erected as if it were made for his personal use.”
Jim learned a lot of discipline and work ethics when he was in the military and was not afraid to tackle starting his business because he had a strong desire to take on the opportunity with enough knowledge about the business to get it going. He had to struggle and sometimes make do with what was available at the time, and with the assistance of his brother Clyde, designed a lift truck out of a Studebaker so they were able to lift the heavy signs into place. A lot of the equipment he used was also custom designed and he worked long hard hours to make sure that everything fell into place.
He started the company with a shell company and expanded out designing the floor plans himself and grew the business to be one of the more successful and strong corporations in Greenwood, SC today.
Showing versatility, Jim and his brother Clyde also developed the Lakewood Heights Subdivision and still dabble in the real estate market.
Mr. Harmon has always been a very caring and giving person and has helped others in many ways. While in the military, he earned a bronze star for aiding in the rescue of a fellow soldier. Jim was a medic and fell under German enemy fire while giving one wounded soldier morphine and trying to rescue him. This is when he himself was shot in the back. That did not stop Jim as he tossed the wounded soldier over his shoulder and carried him to safety. Caring and nurturing is in his personality and it shows with the success of everything he gets involved in.
This kind sole has also been very active in various boards such as “The Million Dollar Campaign” for Piedmont Technical College. He acted as chairman of the board for many years strongly supporting their growth. Mr. Harmon also held a leadership role in “Partners for Progress” which was a gift program that helped promote better education opportunities for employees in the community. “Partners for Progress” were instrumental in placing a new robot from Cincinnati Milacron at Piedmont Technical College for training.
As a member of the Greenwood Taxpayers Association, Jim helped endorse the expansion of Self Regional Hospital as it continues to grow. He has never been afraid to get involved with the community and help make it the best that it can be. He has been involved with the Shriner’s as an officer as well as the Elk Club which are well known for helping the community.
The marquee at Greenwood Community Theatre was made possible due to Mr. Harmon’s generosity with the aid of his team to make it affordable, informative and attractive for Greenwood residents to have a nice place to go for their theatre and entertainment needs.
Rainbow Neon Sign Co., Inc. has grown to be one of the top sign companies in the country with limitless capabilities. The Vice President of United Laboratories once told Jim that he had wished that all sign companies had the same quality and mindset for quality and safety that Rainbow Neon Sign had. Rainbow Sign can custom fabricated and install not only almost any sign desired, but also handle large chain store accounts to meet their demands and specifications. The company has a full fleet of sales personnel trained in quoting and achieving satisfaction from their customers.
At 92, you would think that Jim Harmon’s memory would be fading, but the remarkable stories are endless that come from his past. He has many friends and people who know him and never forget him. One of those friends was Pinky Babb who asked Jim to go to dinner three months to the date before his passing. Jim was fond of Pinky and what he did for the community and they were two of a kind. Jim helped Pinky and various coaches with their sign needs and enjoyed working with them. He also helps Landers coaches and other area schools with their sign needs. Jim believes in leaving a legacy to be proud of and to be thankful for.
Hyde Park Church was blessed with Jim’s financial knowledge as he has helped with the funding and building of their second building. He is heavily involved with the church and it’s fundraising. This is just one of the many community building projects that Jim has had input into and aided.
When you have meet Jim Harmon, you remember him for having strong ethics that help glue a community together and help it grow. He has shown us what one man can do. He is part of what has made Greenwood a wonderful place to live. He spends his relaxation hunting and farming and is still very active with both at the age of 92. He is happy to have his son Curt Harmon to oversee the operation as President and secure the same work ethics in his business as he felt important to maintain a healthy business. His wife, Jean had been instrumental in helping in the office until her retirement and is still very supportive of the growth and reputation that has been built over the years. Jim contributes his longevity to staying active and living with a good clean healthy lifestyle. I think most of us can only hope that we are as active mentally and physically as he does at his age. He is a wonderful person to know.