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Reuven Rahamim Remembered by Industry Colleagues

Accent Signage founder remembered as passionate, gracious

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On September 27, a horrific event plunged Minneapolis’ Accent Signage Systems into national headlines. That day, Andrew Engeldinger, an Accent employee who’d been fired earlier in the day, returned and murdered six people – as well as injuring two others – before turning the gun on himself and committing suicide.

Reuven Rahamim, Accent’s founder, was one of the people killed, targeted by the vengeful Engeldinger. Others killed in this senseless act of violence were Keith Basinski, 50, a UPS deliveryman for nearly 30 years; Jacob Beneke, 34, Accent’s digital-imaging manager; Rami Cooks, 62, an Accent employee and, like Rahamim, a native Israeli; and Ronald Edberg, 58, who’d worked at Accent for more than a decade. Eric Rivers, Accent’s production manager, died days later in the hospital from injuries sustained during the shooting.

I’d interviewed Mr. Rahamim for stories that related to Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)-compliant environmental graphics. A trusted expert in this field – the patent-holder for the Raster® Braille domed, dot-braille system – he was always thoughtful and gracious. Reuven opened his company in his basement in 1984, and built it into an approximately $5 million enterprise. However, that only tells part of his story.
I yield the rest of the column to friends and colleagues who knew him best.

A fund has been established to assist the families of the shooting victims.

“I’ve known Reuven for more than 20 years; we both attended Beth El Synagogue in Minneapolis, and our respective businesses grew along with our involvement in the Jewish community, and we commonly talked shop. We contracted with Accent for ADA-compliant signage, and also served as designers and consultants for many of its products, and assisted its brand makeover. He’s been a mentor, friend, client, vendor, collaborator and generous community supporter. He was truly a mensch [a Yiddish term for someone with honor and integrity].”
Myrna Orensten, president, Imaginality Designs (Minneapolis)

“I think of Reuven as a teacher. At our 2007 SignBiz convention, he instructed us that, when creating ADA-compliant signage, our goal shouldn’t be to simply comply with regulations, but to observe its intent – to create equality and equal access for everyone. Even now, after his senseless death, we’re looking for a way to make something good continue, as his legacy. We’ve learned that, in Hebrew, Rahamim means ‘compassion and mercy.’”
Teresa Young, president, SignBiz Inc. (Dana Point, CA)

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“Reuven Rahamim’s death is a terrible loss not only to his family and community, but for SEGD [Society of Environmental Graphic Design] as well. Reuven was a devoted supporter of our educational programming. He and John Souter [Accent’s Director of Operations, who was wounded during the shooting] contributed greatly to SEGD’s ADA Committee. Anyone who knew Reuven admired his wonderful outlook, dedication to family, and passion for his business. Our hearts go out to the victims’ families.”
Amy Lukas, SEGD board president

“I’ve been honored and pleased to call Reuven a personal friend for at least 15 years. Reuven’s business genius was tremendous, and later developments he produced proved his engineering brilliance. On top of that, Reuven truly believed in accessibility. This is a tragic time for his family, employees, friends and the entire industry.”
– posted on ST’s LinkedIn page by Sharon Toji, Owner/Manger, Access Communications
and H Toji and Co. (Long Beach, CA)

“Born in a tent in Israel to immigrants from Iran, Reuven grew up with few means and limited education. Sponsored by an uncle, he came to the U.S. at 18 knowing no English and having little money. He went on to graduate from trade school with honors, and built his company. Today, its products are used in 32 countries.
“Reuven embodied a rare combination of exceptional technical aptitude, boundless creativity, superb business acumen and congeniality. He was a terrific businessman and philanthropist, and the ultimate family man. He will be greatly missed, but his legacy will continue; Accent Signage Systems has reopened, and, in his spirit, they’ll continue to provide award-winning products and services.”
Andy Steinfeldt, former president, Clearr Corp. (company since acquired by Stylmark)

“I often recall my first introduction to Reuven at an ASI Sign Systems sales conference, in which Accent Signage participated. It was easy to recognize the energy, passion and confidence he had in Accent’s products and its organization, and how he wanted to help ASI grow business. This enthusiasm quickly resulted in the opening of a long-term relationship between our organizations and the two of us personally.”
Grady Brown, principal, GTB Consulting (Irving, TX)
 

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