By Lance Henderson
Behind every great sign is a great sign company. Signs can be easily taken for granted but if it’s glowing neon or perched high above a freeway, someone had to design it, build it, install it and service it.
For the past 30 years, the Sign Post has been behind many of the business signs seen throughout Whatcom County and beyond. The company, which was opened by Ray and Glorene George in 1979 in Blaine, celebrated its 30th anniversary on Sept. 29.
At first, Ray was an apprentice for a one-man sign shop in Blaine. After two years, Ray’s boss went through a divorce and announced that he was going to close the business. Instead, Ray and Glorene decided to go into business for themselves.
“We were very scared because we had to take out a loan for $1,500,” Glorene said smiling as she remembered.
Finding it difficult to expand in Blaine, Ray and Glorene moved their business to Bellingham in 2001 because that was where most of their business came from.
“Since we moved to Bellingham, we have tripled our volume,” Glorene said.
Sign technology has also changed over 30 years. In 1979, Glorene said everything was hand painted. That $1,500 they borrowed was for an opaque projector, which Ray would use to blow up patterns so he could hand letter the sign.
Later, specialized computers cut vinyl, which would be attached to plywood for a sign. Now, instead of specialized computers, the business uses software on desktop computers to help design and fabricate their signs. Over the years, they also expanded into neon, illuminated signs and electronic message centers that allow businesses to change their message on demand.
“We diversified. When we started in Blaine with just Ray and myself, everything was just plywood signs. He might letter some vehicles or do some banners, but then we decided that we wanted to do more to stay busy,” Glorene said. “I think that has been our success.”
Over 30 years, the Sign Post has certainly seen the hills and valleys of the economy, but has found that there are always signs to be made.
“We have got a lot of businesses who are suping up their signs to try to attract more business. Then you’ve got people who have lost their jobs doing startup businesses and we do their signs. We manage to stay pretty busy,” Glorene said.
Ray and Glorene hope that their steady growth continues, so that eventually they could go part-time and have more time for themselves.
“I don’t think Ray and I will be completely out of the sign business until we are gone because we enjoy it so much, but I think we would like some more time off to travel,” Glorene said.