ZANESVILLE — Zanesville High School graduate Anthony Smith and his brother Caleb, who attended Zanesville City Schools through high school, are giving back to the schools that helped shape them.
Smith’s Zanesville-based company, We Wrap Graphics, is currently installing security wraps on the district’s campus buildings. They work with the district security department.
The two-phase plan was held up due to a product backlog, but is expected to be completed in the next two weeks, Smith said. He played football for the Blue Devils under former coach Chad Grandstaff before earning a scholarship to Ohio Dominican.
He started the business in 2021 by renovating the basketball weight room at ZHS in honor of longtime coach Scott Aronhalt, one of his first major projects. They have since branched out into wrapping vehicles and creating decorative signs and banners for gyms, among other things.
The security project with Zanesville and the film and perforation installation is similar to installing vinyl for wraps, Smith said. You outsource the film through a supplier.
“Just based on my experience installing vinyl, it’s pretty easy for me to install the sheeting,” Smith said. “It requires experience (to learn).”
Fred Curry, a former Muskingum County Sheriff’s Office detective who now serves as an attendance officer, security officer and court liaison for Zanesville City Schools, said in a statement that the district’s security measure was prompted in part by recurring school shootings across the country.
He approached We Wrap for the project.
“We live in a world that unfortunately includes a small segment of cowardly individuals who go into schools to harm innocent children,” Curry said. “That kind of scenario keeps a lot of us up at night. The armed security team, administrators, teachers and other staff at Zanesville City Schools are committed to protecting our students.”
Curry said the security film Smith is installing at the building’s entrances is “just another attempt to keep students safe.”
In addition to the security film, the school has also updated security cameras and changed locks on buildings while restricting outside access.
“We’ve recently been able to purchase breakthrough tools, bleed control and trauma kits,” Curry said. “Additional staff training will take place in the near future, and as more funds become available, our district will continue to identify and purchase products to make our buildings as safe as possible.”
The two-phase work at Zanesville High School includes security sheeting on all doors and windows on the first floor of the building. The essence of the film’s effectiveness lies in its flexibility, Smith said. While an intruder could smash through a regular window or door with the butt of his gun or other means, film is another layer of security that is far less penetrable.
“This security film isn’t completely bulletproof or foolproof, but it does hold the glass together,” Smith said. “Often these active shooters can break in so quickly that the police don’t have enough time to react. It takes anywhere from a minute to maybe 10-15 minutes for them to mess around with that jar. It kind of holds together.”
The school’s main entrance will have a perforated security layer – part window, part holes – on the outside, in addition to the window and film on the inside.
“It will serve as a double layer of security,” Smith said.
Smith said the Zanesville project makes him very proud, knowing the company is giving back to a place that helped shape it.
“It’s awful and unfortunate that this has an issue ahead of us with the times we’re in,” Smith said. “I feel really good that the administration trusts me to be part of the solution because that’s huge. I really care about the city and the schools. I have family members that go to school and people that I really care about so it feels good to know that they trust me to be a part of that.”
Smith’s company also applies custom advertising or decorative wraps to vehicles. They also undertook many branding projects in West Muskingum, including the redesign of some building logos, records and banners in the school’s gymnasium.
There, too, discussions are being held with possible security projects.
“He’s done a great job with our stuff,” said West Muskingum Superintendent Chad Shawger. “It was really good working with their group as they give us an overview of how (the finished product) will look on the computer.”
They are currently in the process of designing a banner to recognize the school’s three state champions at Gary Ankrum Grammar School.
“[Smith]was really easy to work with and very responsive when it came to fixing things that needed fixing,” Shawger said. “We have had good experiences.”
Smith’s venture came into the package after working with close friends and fellow ZHS football classmates Braily Blair and Talon Hutcheson in printing services, but the business venture fell through in the wake of COVID-19.
Smith’s time at ODU allowed him to get in touch with a company that owned several panel vans that needed wrapping. He spent a semester wrapping the trucks, which then led to occasional wrapping projects in his spare time.
He taught himself graphic design, which started with SEO Printing three years ago. Combined with installation experience, the idea for the company is officially born.
“It’s smoothed out now,” Smith said. “I have a really good handle on the whole process. There were some tough days and times when I wanted to give up, but it was a dream of mine to run a company like this. I knew I was starting a small business, that you didn’t have the money to hire people, so you won’t survive if you don’t all wear hats.”
Caleb Smith said the deal has great potential. Like his brother, he carries out multiple duties, from graphic design to vehicle wraps and signage to T-shirt pressing. Like his older brother, he was introduced to it from an early age.
As with anything, the more practice you get, the better the product becomes.
“The sky’s the limit,” Caleb said. “It’s one of the best parts of running a small business. It’s up to us to keep growing. Jobs like this do a lot for us and really put our name out there.”
Smith is proud to be a minority entrepreneur, adding that the digital age has made it easier to be an entrepreneur. He hopes his story can inspire others who grew up without opportunities to get opportunities to run their own businesses.
“I’m very proud of that,” Smith said.
Smith’s football team finished the tournament 9-1 and was viewed by many as one of the toughest and most bureaucratic teams the Blue Devils have produced. That has been shown in life after football, as players like Smith, Blair, Hutcheson and two-way star Gary Ransom, who is currently the coach at San Diego, have all gone on to successful business and coaching ventures.
“I think it’s just that mindset,” Smith said. “We worked extremely hard. Our group was something that excelled. Even if we didn’t have the greatest talent, we put in the work. We’re not afraid of work, especially when we’re trying new things.”
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