Regional Signmakers

Wales - Signwise stays busy despite tough economic times

Plaque created by SignWise for SolicitorsSign protruding from the side of a buildingSign by Signwise with Neon
Stephen Cleaves' infatuation with signs began at the age of 10 when he saw a photograph of London's Piccadilly Circus in his grandmother's newspaper.

After several years spent working in the drawing office of a large national sign manufacturer, Stephen established Signwise in March 1984. Initially operating from a room above a shop in the city centre, the business quickly moved to its current location, a 1000 sq.ft. industrial unit on a Newport industrial park.

Trade grew rapidly, then in January 1989 a fire started by local children resulted in the loss of everything and the company virtually had to start again from scratch.

Apart from an advertisement in Yellow Pages, most of Signwise's work is generated by recommendations and returning customers, some who have remained loyal since day one. These include many small businesses, a nationwide retailer, councils, construction companies, the principality's army reserve forces and cadets association, various medical centres and a national commercial property management company.

At present, cut out and built up satin or polished stainless steel lettering are the best sellers for Signwise, although vehicle magnetics and panels in sheet aluminium and aluminium composite also remain popular.

Signwise has recently completed work on a large doctors surgery on which numerous free standing modular signs and engraved aluminium nameplates were specified by the architect.

The company's most recent acquisition, all be it two years ago now, is a Keencut Excalibur cutter which is used to great effect and complements a wall mounted panel saw and traditional circular saw.

In addition to manufacturing, site surveys, erection and maintenance of signs for "out of town'' companies are also undertaken.

Signwise considers itself fortunate to have remained busy during the current recession, in spite of having to turn away work that required unrealistic delivery dates.

Staff at Signwise pride themselves on the care and the attention to detail paid to even the smallest of jobs and are grateful for the dedicated support they receive from their suppliers and various sub contractors.

Although there are no plans to expand, Signwise's aspires to continue providing well designed, well made signs at competitive prices to all its customers.

Northamptonshire - Village Sign Society - Signmakers show wide range of skills and style

Village signs handcrafted by Rock Artisan Foundry.This issue we're looking at signmakers in Northamptonshire, a county with a rich and fascinating heritage.

Many villages have bespoke signs that are potent reminders of local history and culture. Working to promote the importance of village signs and preserve their valuable heritage is the Village Sign Society.

The Society is run by volunteers and was founded in 1999 by Maureen Long and Shirley Addy, co-producers of the popular series of books Suffolk Signs.

Maureen Long is in no doubt about the importance of village signs, saying: "They record village events and local history which might otherwise be lost, as well as fostering a community spirit in an age of increasing uniformity. They also represent continuity."

The society receives an increasing number of enquiries, 100 in the last 12 months, from groups across the country interested in commissioning traditional signage for their area. For many people producing village signs it is little more than a hobby, but several sign businesses also produce bespoke village signs.

One company the Village Sign Society can put groups in touch with is Rock Artisan Foundry, based near Towcester, in the heart of the Northamptonshire countryside.

For more information on the Village Sign Society, visit their website at for more details

To read the article on Rock Artisan Foundry click here.

Scotland - EVM - a company for all reasons in the Scottish market

Sign saying Elliots bar using built-up letters. Inside of a cafe Premises of Glen Henderson Cars
EVM, short for Effective Visual Marketing, in Glasgow and Ayr in Scotland is a leading multi-disciplined sign and display company with more than 20 years experience in signage, interiors and display graphics.

Working with both private and public sector customers locally and internationally, EVM's services include project management, technical surveys, artwork, design advice, manufacture and installation. EVM's experience, track record and technical skills have built the company's reputation for being one of the country's top suppliers of visual marketing materials.

EVM has invested significantly and consistently in digital technologies providing in-house services encompassing large format digital colour printing, CNC routering, fabrication and a large joinery workshop that can cope with all manner of bespoke point of sale and retail furniture.

The company's services include interior and exterior signage, banners, window graphics, exhibition and display stands and graphics, custom built retail furniture and counters, vehicle liveries, labels and stickers, health andsafety signage and DDA compliant Braille and tactile signage.

EVM's fully trained and Health & Safety certified installation teams have years of on-site experience to ensure that every project is installed with the minimum of disruption and to a top class standard of finish. Unlike some other companies, EVM says it "never, ever" sub-contracts the installation of any sign or display project.

Ensuring that signs and displays continue look as good as the first day they were installed, is the job of the EVM maintenance teams. They make sure that, come what may, they look your best from dawn till dusk with programmed maintenance and a 24/7 emergency call out when nothing else will do.

Whilst the recession has impacted on sales volumes, EVM reports that business is beginning to find its feet again and the quantity and quality of the current order book is making the future look bright.

Contact details:
Effective Visual Marketing (EVM) - or tel. 0141 554 2000.

Northamptonshire - Traditional village signs from Rock Artisan Foundry

The finished village sign with workers from Rock Artisan FoundryRock Artisan Foundry produced the prestigious Silverstone Village sign in Northamptonshire (pictured right), which was unveiled by Sir Jackie Stewart in November 2008.

Started in 1981, the company caters to a wide customer base with its traditional sand cast aluminium signage.

Founding partner, Colin Rock, says "The public know us best for our house signs, personalised post boxes and farm signs but a valuable part of our business comes from village and community signs as well as schools, businesses and universities."

Recent projects include a complete range of traditional street signs for the picturesque village of Weston Underwood in Buckinghamshire, and numerous instructory and wayfinding signs for University College, Oxford.

The unassembled Silverstone Village Sign at Rock.The company is weathering the current financial climate well and sales have even increased in some areas of the business. Alice Rock, Managing Partner, puts the company's continued success down to quality craftsmanship and product diversity.

"When times are tough people want to know that they are spending their money wisely. Our products are handcrafted and quality control is very high," says Alice.

Rock is a rural business employing local people and run by an enthusiastic family with high standards and big plans with exciting projects in the pipeline.

Daniel Rock, Design and Engineering Partner, is confident that the business will continue to grow: "We are a family business with a great track record but you can't afford to stand still in today's market. We are looking forward to the launch of our new website in the next couple of months and are hoping to grow our customer base further in the UK and Europe and expand into the US and Japan."

For more information on Rock Foundry:
tel. 01327 351561

Scotland - Merson Signs is flying high

Sign showing a gate at Heathrow being closed. Marks and Spencers sign on the outside of their building Inside M&S
Merson Signs has been involved in the design, manufacture and installation of signage since 1938 and is different to any other sign manufacturer in Scotland.

Not only is Merson Signs the largest signage contractor north of the border by a considerable margin, it is a truly national business, operating from sites just outside London and Glasgow and having an installation base in the Midlands. The company is a full service sign contractor; core areas of operation including concept design, wayfinding consultancy, project management, manufacturing, installation and dedicated ongoing support for alterations and additions.

The key account list includes BAA, Tesco, TK Maxx, M&S, Lloyds Banking Group, Santander, Volvo, RBS, Arnold Clark, Southeastern Rail and Bovis Lend Lease. Most have been with the company for a many years and, in each case, Merson succeeds in growing the scope and volume of works. There are ambitious growth plans for the future that can only be achieved through unrivalled service and project delivery to all clients, strengths that have led to Merson's success to date.

Much of Merson Signs' consistent growth in recent years is due to the performance of its recently created new business divisions; Merson i-level retail, Merson Sign Management and Merson Sign Design.

Merson i-level retail is a recently acquired business specialising in the installation of point of sale display equipment managed using state of the art software systems. Its key client roster includes Sky, Nissan, Sainsbury's, Gap and Levi Strauss.

Merson Sign Management provides a full facilities management service for signs, specialising in the fast, cost-effective turn-round of sign alterations, repairs and additions. Many of Merson Signs' core clients utilise the services of Merson Sign Management to keep their signage assets in tip-top condition.

Merson Sign Design specialises in developing other peoples' signage concepts into production-ready proposals, developing signage proposals from scratch and providing award-winning wayfinding consultancy.

The division has worked on a number of high profile projects including most recently Abu Dhabi Midfield Terminal Complex, which was won in a tender against stiff global competition.

Merson Signs – or tel. 01355 243 021.

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