People close to Danny Williams describe him as a Christian living every day as an example to others. He is a man who lives his faith – to his family, his customers, and his employees.
But Williams’ story didn’t start that way. Growing up around Virginia Mines near Hueytown, the president of Reliable Sign Services in McCalla joined a church at age 11 but didn’t truly come to know Christ as Savior until he was 27.
“I had a lot of responsibilities, including in the church,” Williams reflected. “I had two young children and a stressful job due to the way the owner treated me and other people, and I ran from God instead of to Him when the stress became too much. I turned to the bottle instead of the Bible.”
As the combined impact of alcohol abuse, stress, and a lack of sleep grew, Williams began experiencing blackouts. After three days of hospitalization and testing, doctors couldn’t identify the cause but Williams knew — because God had been working on his heart.
“When I got home [from the hospital] I grabbed my wife by the hand and got on my knees in our little starter home and cried out to God to save me,” Williams remembered. “And He did. I’m a new creation; the old has passed away.”
A new direction
Williams then prayed for direction and sensed God urging him to start a sign company. With 12 years of experience in that industry, about $1,200 in hand and the encouragement of his father, Williams started Reliable Sign Services in April 1994.
“Since God clearly guided me to do it, and my goal now was to honor Him and bring Him glory, I was confident but certainly humbled,” Williams confessed. “It was very hard; I had no sales experience, no advertisement and no employees. One by one, God blessed me with good local jobs to do, and I used my fabrication and installation skills to make and install lighted signs until I could afford to hire some help and get more equipment.”
Williams didn’t plan to provide signs primarily for churches, but after doing a few, word spread. Now church signs are a major part of his business, and Williams uses the opportunity to encourage pastors and support churches in their work.
“I have had many opportunities to pray with pastors who were struggling or frustrated at a lack of help (many times with changing the sign), or just burned out or couldn’t get the congregation to step out and get a better sign,” Williams related.
“We try to educate [customers] on the value of a sign and how it can help their business or church.”
Do unto others
“[We] treat others the way we want to be treated,” Williams asserted, “loving people daily in a tangible way — our customers, employees and vendors — praying with them, sharing Christ, giving a delivery driver a bottle of cold water.”
The Reliable team also helps support missionaries and ministries like Sav-A-Life, Kairos Prison Ministry, Celebrate Recovery and Global Impact Ministries.
“We try to help as many [ministries] as we can, but mainly focus on organizations that can impact lives eternally,” said Stephanie Smith, Williams’ daughter and Reliable’s officer manager. “We have been blessed so we want to and are called to bless others in return.”
Since joining the team in 2013, Smith has witnessed her father living out “The Golden Rule” as a businessman who prays with customers, employees and vendors and encourages employees to pray with and for each other.
“He is very fair in business,” Smith said. “He serves his customers well [and] takes time to get to know them. He educates them on different sign options and helps them find the sign that fits their needs, not the most expensive one.
“He is not afraid to share his faith with anyone, and he is always prepared to do so as 1 Peter 3:15 tells us.”
Work and ministry
Working with her father, Smith has learned to trust the Lord, hold onto His promises, strive to do what’s right and “do unto others,” she said. Perhaps the most important lesson she’s learned is that work should be her ministry.
“There is always someone to encourage or serve,” Smith asserted.
“I have met a lot of wonderful believers, pastors and staff members,” Williams said. “But what blesses me the most is when I see a church on fire for Jesus, not just existing or surviving but seeking ways to serve others and God and thriving.
“We’re here to do more than make signs. We’re here to make a difference in the lives of people in our circle and above all to glorify God.”