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Aiming high!

Aiming high!

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Trade Signs, one of the UK’s leading trade manufacturers of bespoke signage is celebrating 20 years in the industry.

First established by Matthew Driver in 1994 as a trade supplier, Trade Signs combines traditional skills and the latest technological innovation to deliver its own brand of unique bespoke signs, all of which are fabricated in its Tring-based factory.

Matthew, who describes his teenage self as being ‘a very passionate artist’, explained that his artist mother had taught him how to paint and draw, skills that served him well when he undertook a week of work experience at the Hertfordshire-based Art Signs in 1987. In fact, he enjoyed the experience so much that he continued to work for the company every Thursday night and Saturday.   He remembers: “ Art Signs produced a lot of traditional pub signs and, during my time with them, I learnt everything about carpentry, spray painting, hand painting and gold leafing.”

In 1989 Matthew immigrated to Sydney, Australia where he initially worked for a sign company, before deciding to strike out on his own, completing a wide variety of signage work before returning to the UK in 1992, when he decided to further hone his design skills by completing an HND in Graphic Design. He also recognised that with the introduction of computerised vinyl cutting the whole industry was rapidly changing and that there was a niche opening up for a really good trade supplier of custom made signage.

He revealed: “My blueprint was for a company that used the latest innovative technology, coupled with rigorous quality control and excellent service to offer products that would continuously exceed customer expectations!”

Accordingly, he set up Trade Signs and it wasn’t long before there was enough business for him to take on first one employee and then another three, while also purchasing the company’s first CNC router.  In 1998 Trade Signs set up its own fabrication department, making further investments in staff and equipment including a second router and a laser cutter.

Nowadays, the company, which has a staff of 45, continues to grow and evolve and, as well as the move into its current 33,000 sq.ft premises in 2012, it is still investing in the latest kit. Early next year, it plans to install a new wet spray and powder coating plant and more fabrication equipment.

However, there is no guarantee of success for even the best equipped company unless those assets are equally matched with an unimpeachable degree of customer service, a point not lost on Haylee Benton, Trade Signs’ Operations Manager who said: “We have worked extremely hard to streamline our processes to ensure that our customers enjoy the ultimate hassle free purchasing experience – this is something that all of our staff feel really passionate about. Our quest for improvement, in terms of both quality and turnaround times, is ongoing and we’re always setting ourselves new challenges, which is why are so excited to see our plans and ideas for next year reaching fruition, as we truly believe that we will be setting a new benchmark for sign manufacture.”

And of course, some would say that Trade Signs have already more than achieved that goal, having picked up the Sign Construction award at this year’s BSGA British Sign Awards, in respect of the spectacular, colour changing sign it manufactured for the ITV building in Manchester’s Media City!

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