With economic recovery on the way there are companies in Northern Ireland well placed to make the most of opportunities that arise. As part of our Small Business Can series Paul Gosling looks at four of them.
Many small firms begin trading from their garages, aspiring to move up into larger premises as they expand. This is exactly what Sign it Design has achieved.
Growing The Business
Back in 1999, Damian and Connery McGill started producing 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 sq ft in two purpose-built units in Coleraine. It marks a big advance from the 200sq ft garage where it all began.
While Damian was an electrician by trade, Connery had qualified in computer-aided art and design. By putting their skills together, they met a growing demand for signs that were much quicker to produce and cheaper than traditional hand painted signs more commonly used at the time.
“My brother is in charge of the graphic design, IT and production set-up for manufacturing,” explains Damian. “I am the contracts manager contacting customers, site surveys and managing on-site installation making sure all the signs are done to standard.”
The business produces 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.
“Everything is now moving towards full colour photographic signage,” explains Connery. Sign It prides itself on keeping its customers satisfied — with over 500 regular clients.
Always In Demand
Despite the recession, income has continued to grow. “Our clients have had to become more flexible which has led them to change signs and rebrand more frequently increasing work for Sign It,” says Damian.
“We are 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.”
The McGill brothers retain a sober approach to their business, concentrating on consolidation, rather than |rapid growth.
“We want to keep our customers’ images to the forefront of today’s business market. To do that means keeping up-to-date with the ever changing technology in our field,” says Damian.