Creating a lasting legacy of signs |

Creating a lasting legacy of signs

by Scott Neuffer

Gardnerville resident Joel Hohenstein looks upon the many signs he’s fashioned throughout Carson Valley the same way a sculptor looks upon the statues he’s shaped for posterity.

“I drive down Main Street and know we’ve done all these, that it’s hard to point out a sign we haven’t done,” he said Thursday. “Every time I drive past, I get the feeling that I did this.”

Hohenstein, 24, has been making signs since he was a boy. His parents, Terry and Tammy, owned Mac Signs before selling it about four years ago.

Around the same time, Hohenstein enlisted in the U.S. Army. As a specialist in the 371st Reconnaissance, Surveillance and Target Acquisition Bravo Company, based out of Fort Drum, N.Y., he spent a year serving his country in the Kunar Province of Afghanistan.

In May, the soldier returned home and quickly formed a new partnership with his parents. He is now the majority owner of TNT Signs.

“A lot of people found out that we were back, and they were so excited,” Hohenstein said.

The new company offers signs in a variety of materials, from wood and aluminum to hand-carved foam. Terry Hohenstein has an electrical contractor’s license and handles the wiring for electric and neon signage.

The company also offers vehicle and window lettering, magnetic signs, decals, banners, logo design, digital printing and business cards.

Hohenstein explained how each family member contributes to the business.

Tammy Hohenstein is the artist behind each design.

“My mom has been an exceptional artist with colors her whole life,” he said. “She can paint anything.”

Terry Hohenstein is the craftsman who figures out the technical construction.

“My dad can fabricate anything you can think of,” he said. “If you need it made, he can make it.”

Hohenstein himself helps with installation, what he calls the “nitty gritty,” and runs the business. He said he’s learned and is still learning all the intricacies of the craft.

“I don’t think I’ll ever be completely by myself, because they have so much expertise,” he said of his parents.

As previous owners of Mac Signs, the family left their mark on the Valley – from the handsome welcome signs of both Minden and Gardnerville, to the cheery blue signage of the Carson Valley Swim Center, to the electrified emblem of Coffee on Main.

As partners in TNT Signs, the trio recently created new signage for Eastern Sierra Feed and CJS Floors in Gardnerville.

“Sign work is recession-proof. Regardless of the economy, people still need to advertise,” Hohenstein said. “When you look at the sign of a building, you can judge the quality of the store.”

Hohenstein said he enjoys working with the diverse business community of Carson Valley.

“I get to meet the people who run this Valley,” he said. “I rarely do the same thing twice. Every sign is a little different.”

A mobile operation, TNT Signs is available 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday.

For more information, call (775) 230-8418 or visit