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Music first business for old friends
Matt Alexander, right, and Bart Dorough talk with customer Keith Miller at FASTSIGNS in Cumming. Alexander and Dorough run the business by day and play in a band together by night. - photo by Autumn Vetter

At a glance

Want to check out Bart Dorough and Matt Alexander in the Zipper Zappers Trio? They will be performing along with fellow businessman Vince Raia from 9 p.m. to midnight Saturday at Stars and Strikes Family Entertainment Center, 133 Merchant Square. There is no cover charge for the show.

Bart Dorough and Matt Alexander spend their days listening to the hum of large-scale printers, but the notes of their nights and weekends are quite different.

The pair runs the Buford Highway FASTSIGNS, a franchise that creates a variety of specialty signs, but their partnership strikes deeper chords through a longstanding love of music.

Dorough and Alexander have known each other since attending high school and college together in Birmingham, Ala.

After several years in the working world, the two found themselves in Forsyth County.

Dorough said he spent about 15 years in banking before buying the local FASTSIGNS franchise about four years ago. Most of Alexander’s career has been in the sign industry for other companies.

Alexander came to the Cumming business about two years ago.

"Matt and I didn’t expect to work together, but that’s just how it worked out," Dorough said.

They had, however, spent a lot of time playing together.

"We’ve been in different bands together probably since 1987," Dorough said. "We played at all the school functions, and we were later in an oldies band in Birmingham together."

Separately, both have worked with some pretty big names in the music industry.

Dorough spent some time touring with country band Sugarland in 2004.

"I played bass for them for about eight or nine months, right before and a little after their first record deal," he said.

While Alexander, who plays lead guitar and does some singing, said he hasn’t played "in a big group like Sugarland," he’s still performed with some well-known musicians.

"I’ve opened for the Dave Matthews Band and Travis Tritt, and played with Davy Jones from the Monkees," he said. "I stay in about four different groups all the time."

Most recently the duo has been playing together in the Zipper Zappers Band, along with several other area businessmen.

Dorough, Alexander and Vince Raia from EMC Security on drums will perform Saturday at Stars and Strikes Family Entertainment Center as the Zipper Zappers Trio.

"This will be the first time we’ve performed as a trio," Dorough said.

Since both Dorough and Alexander are also family men — Dorough and wife Lyn have two sons, Reade and Max, both under age 2, while Alexander and wife Merritt have a 9-year-old daughter Maddie — they’re happy to perform at a family-friendly venue.

"It’s nice to perform there as opposed to a bar or something like that," Dorough said.

As far as working in their passion around their business lives, both say they just have to make the time.

"You do have to prioritize your time and the business definitely comes first, but we’re able to juggle it all," Dorough said.

Added Alexander: "It’s just a constant juggle between work, family and playing.

"Pretty much every weekend I’m on the road, so I spend time with my family during the week and I’ll occasionally take my daughter with me. She’s got a great voice."

Both men said music has strengthened their bond.

"It’s amazing we’ve managed to keep a good friendship this long … we butt heads sometimes, but we always figure it out," Alexander said.

Dorough compared their time spent together in musical groups to running a business.

"That’s why Matt and I work so well together," he said. "Ever since high school, we’ve been running around together in some band or another and that’s a lot like being in business together.

"With a band, you’ve got a certain customer base, so you have to put together the right musicians, come up with the right songs to play and keep everything well organized, just like in business.

"There’s a lot of small business in a band, too."