FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) – Once the billboards began going up, Chad Romey began getting the texts.
Never before had he really been the public face of anything, but all of a sudden there he was, his photo gigantic along Interstate 69. Or plastered on an ad in a magazine or newspaper. Or on another sign around town.
All of them bordered by a deep red color with his unfamiliar – at least, as of early this year – name alongside someone else’s whose is likely burned into your brain if you’ve lived in Fort Wayne for more than a cup of coffee.
“My buddies would text and joke and say, “Oh gosh, the billboard adds 20 pounds,” Romey said while laughing.
Those signs and billboards represent a significant achievement for the attorney, whose name is now on the marquee of the Blackburn Romey personal injury law firm, which for roughly 30 years had been Blackburn & Green and even before that Sweeney, Pfeifer, Blackburn and Green.
Billboards and dramatic commercials and the green color scheme became the firm’s unmistakable identity. R.T. Green, though, went to Indianapolis to create Team Green with his son, Collin Green. That left a void for Tom Blackburn, the longstanding partner of the firm, to fill.
So he tapped Romey, who had been at Blackburn & Green for almost 13 years. And on Jan. 1 Blackburn Romey was officially born – though the local offices and the staff are exactly the same as Blackburn & Green.
“To have your name on the billboard or the sign, it’s a special moment for any lawyer,” Romey said. “We all dream about hanging out our own shingle, and I get to hang out a shingle with Tom Blackburn.”
Forget being the face behind the name. The 46-year-old Fort Wayne native who was well aware of the Blackburn & Green name while growing up never dreamed he’d even be working with the firm 13-plus years ago.
Before he was an attorney, Romey worked for a large law firm but found that unfulfilling. Then he worked in sales. When he got to know Tom Blackburn personally, a lot of his misconceptions about the firm and the way it works went away.
“Being around him, the practice is not what I thought it was,” Romey said. “There’s a large contingency of people who think that people are out to game the system to get money when they’re hurt. What they don’t realize is these people are stuck in the system.”
Romey said he found his footing in trial law, whether it is arguing on someone’s behalf because they can’t pay their bills or trying to get a insurance company to pony up money for someone’s rental car.
“I know I can make a difference,” he said.
The rebranding process has been long and not without its hurdles, according to Romey, who took an active role in trying to get the word out about the change. The color red was chosen for the logo as a way to freshen up the look and differentiate itself from the green of the past.
Changing the billboards and ads also takes time, Romey said. There are still some Blackburn & Green billboards dotting Interstate 69 that are within 150 feet of brand new Blackburn Romey billboards. Since some of those billboards have contracts with the former Blackburn & Green, it might take some time for those to change.
“It doesn’t just happen like that,” Romey said.
Just as it might take people some time to get used to a new name at an old, familiar firm.