Sign Craft – 18 Park Street, Charlottetown – June 2017
Sign Craft designs, manufactures, installs and services a wide variety of signs. For businesses, they make signs that stand alone or are attached to buildings. They also make decals for windows and vehicles, personalized license plates, and civic signs.
The business began in 1980 with partners George and Roy Scantlebury and Gherig Roach.
There is an in-house fabrication shop where employees manufacture the signs. They do their own welding, CNC routering, electrical wiring, and paint finishing.
About the staff
Nine people work at Sign Craft. The youngest is the student intern hired for the summer, who is about 20, and the oldest is 60.
Staff turnover rate
Mike, who has worked at Sign Craft since 2013, and Kim, the Receptionist, are the newest people on the team. The other staff members have been there for at least nine years. One of the Graphic Designers has worked at Sign Craft for 18 years. The previous owner, who is still employed with the company, has been there 37 years. “Our staff here are very much long-term,” says Mike.
- General Manager
- Accounting Technician/Admin Assistant
- Graphic Design team
- Fabrication and Installation team
“Everyone in our design group and our fabrication and installation group can do the duties required,” says Mike. “If someone is on vacation or out sick, someone else can step in to do help do what needs to be done.
“Everyone does a lot of everything here. I’m the General Manager, and I also do installations. The Fabrication and Installation team could be using the CNC router to cut letters into a sign, and then go help with an installation. Some employees are on the road installing signs most of the time. Doing a lot of different jobs makes the work fun and interesting for the staff.
“The Designers and I have our own client base, but we rely on each other to get the product fabricated and installed for the client.”
Mike says staff numbers have remained steady for many years. “Hiring depends on how busy we are. Typically, we hire a summer student who works with the Graphic Designers. Hiring a student helps the person learn the trade and helps free up some time for the Designers. To cover vacations in the summer, we may bring in some temporary labour through an agency.”
Most difficult positions to fill
“All our positions are difficult to fill. If we hire someone new to add to the team, we can train them, but if an experienced employee were to leave, it would be a hard hole to fill, because there are no training programs for the installation and fabrication of signs.
“Those working on the graphic design side are sales people as well as designers, so they need people skills, plus they work with their own client base. Clients usually want to use the same Designer each time they place an order. If a Designer were to leave, that connection would no longer be there, and someone new would have to build that connection again. We would not like to see anyone leave, because we all do so many different things.”
Wages and benefits
“Our wages follow industry standards. We offer health and medical benefits. Staff members receive statutory and non-statutory holidays off with pay.”
Is there a need for bilingual staff?
“We really don’t have a need for bilingual staff. One of our biggest off-Island clients is Pattison Sign Group, and we do a lot of sales and service for them. Many of the people we speak with in that company are very French, but we are able to communicate with them in English.
“We have been doing a lot of work with the immigrant community. Earlier this year, we added a Mandarin and a Farsi page to our website, and we have added Mandarin to the sign out front to show people what we are capable of doing.”
All three of the Designers, plus the summer intern, have taken the Holland College Graphic Design program.
“For Installers and Fabricators, there is no training course specific to signs. Our shop guys have been with us an average of eight years, and they learned on the job. All our staff need to be mechanically inclined, unafraid of heights, and good at problem solving. Job experience from a previous construction or other type of job would be a benefit.”
All staff work full-time, year-round. The summer intern works full-time for the summer.
People working in the field and the shop could have to do some heavier lifting, but they also have a crane to help with moving and lifting the signs.
Sign Craft is the major sponsor for the Before I Die wall at the Guild. They have provided signs for the Alzheimer’s Society walk and other events, and have also donated prizes for silent auction benefits.
Best way to get your foot in the door
Sign Craft does very little hiring, but getting experience as a summer intern could be a way to get in if a job opening comes up.
“Drop off or e-mail a resumè,” says Mike. “We don’t often hire, but if a resumè comes in just at the time we get a big order and need someone, they might be hired. We are always open to accepting resumès, and we keep them on file in case something comes up.”
Typical interview questions
“Questions depend on the job to be filled. We explain what the job is all about. We ask what their interests are outside work to get to know a bit about them.”
How to stand out during the hiring process
“I like to see initiative. If they ask questions about the business, it shows they have a real interest. Asking how we do things makes a more favourable impression than if we have to try to draw a response out of someone.”
In-house training provided
“Because there is no formal training for creating signs, everyone pitches in to show the new person how and why we do things a certain way.”
When working for the company, what are the keys to successful employment?
“Be willing to do what you need to do when needed. Our schedule changes a lot. You could have a plan for the day that changes at the last minute, and you need to be able to switch what you are doing at the drop of a hat.”
What is the work within your company going to look like in five years?
“The big thing for us is to stay on top of technology and trends. Signs with letters that must be manually changed are still common, but LED signs have become more popular. Just recently, LED message boards have been allowed in Charlottetown. We are the largest installer of LED message boards on PEI – we have done six or seven this year alone.”
Future business plans
“We hope we will be hiring more people as our business increases.”
For more information, call 902-628-6282 or visit www.signcraftpei.com.