Many small firms begin trading from their garages, aspiring to move up and out into larger premises as their businesses expand. This is exactly what Sign it Design has achieved.
Back in 1999, Damian and Connery McGill started producing veichle graphics and signs for commercial customers from a garage attached to the family home. As the business grew they moved into larger premises – twice. Now they have just completed the third expansion of their new premises, giving them over 10,000 square feet in two purpose-built units in Coleraine. It marks a big advance from the 200 square feet garage where it all began.
“It was established by two brothers, who are now partners,” explains Damian. While Damian was an electrician by trade, Connery had qualified in computer-aided art and design. By putting their skills together, they were able to meet a growing demand for signs that were much quicker to produce and therefore cheaper than traditional hand painted signs more commonly used at the time. This also enabled them to provide more detailed and longer lasting signs.
“My brother is in charge of the graphic design, IT and production set-up for manufacturing of the signs,” explains Damian. “I am more the contracts manager contacting customers, site surveys and managing on site installation making sure all the signs are done to standard.”
The business produces a wide range of signs, including directional and health and safety signs and also vehicle graphics for large fleets. “Other areas of our core business includes fast food chains, local eateries and large hotel groups,” says Damian. One of its high profile local clients is the National Trust – signing its north coast beaches and other landmarks on the north coast.
“Everything is now moving towards full colour photographic signage,” explains Connery. “Full colour banners and photos for hotels, shops, night clubs and so on.” Sign it prides itself on keeping its customers satisifed – with over 500 regular and repeat clients.
Despite the recession, income has continued to grow. “Our clients have had to become more flexible in responding to changing customer trends, which, in turn, has led them to change signs and therefore rebrand / market more frequently and so increase work for Sign it,” says Damian. “In addition, reductions in disposable income led last summer to more people holidaying at home – and so a busier trade on the north coast has kept us busier than ever.
“We are very fortunate to always be in demand. This is the key reason our income has increased year-on-year. Being so busy means you need to keep a check on things.” Doing this has been helped by having a loyal and dedicated workforce – some of its 10 workers have been with the company for a decade.
The McGill brothers retain a sober approach to their business, concentrating on consolidation, rather than rapid growth. “We want to keep our customers serviced and their images to the forefront of today’s business market. To do that means for us keeping up-to-date with the ever changing technology in our field,” says Damian. “We want to keep the business at around this size considering the present climate. This way Connery and I can manage the whole thing.”