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eSigns Canada embraces 3D, holographic future of sign making

In this week’s Midweek Mugging, we feature a family-run business in Bradford West Gwillimbury that is making a name for itself

Down a country road in Bradford West Gwillimbury, across from a farm and corn fields is one of the biggest sign design, manufacturing and installation companies in the region.

eSigns Canada is a home-based business with just three full-time employees, and one part-timer, but it caters to businesses big and small — from local shops looking to redesign their storefronts, to major pharmaceutical companies looking for help designing advertising signage of the future.

“We are a family-based business. With that, reputation is everything. When we put something up it’s going to stay up. It’s going to be built to high standards,” said Gary Brickell, president of eSigns.

“There is nothing more powerful for a business than good storefront signage. Our specialty is storefront makeovers. Whenever we drive anywhere, we say ‘I made that, I made that, I designed that…’”

Brickell estimated about 35 per cent to 40 per cent of new signs in BWG are produced by eSigns.

The business does jobs of all sizes — from storefront signs, vehicle wraps and billboards, to LED displays, architectural signage and “vandal-proof” arena signs that can stand up against repeated slams from hockey sticks, Brickell said.

eSigns did all the signage for the new BWG Public Library, it built large illuminated and digital display signs for Rona, and it has sometimes worked with the same businesses, such as Elite Dance Corps, over the years to create and manufacture new signs for them as they grow and rebrand.

eSigns can make 2D and 3D signs on all types of surfaces, even including a very thin sheet of 24-carat gold the business keeps in rolls.

Inside eSigns on 11th Line in BWG, the printing machines were originally installed to be part of a training centre for another business run by Brickell, until he decided to start eSigns.

Always an entrepreneur, Brickell’s journey began in his garage in Newmarket in 1985, when he started Instant Custom Signs.

“In six years, we were seven locations across Ontario, 35 staff, and $3 million in sales,” he said. “I was basically the author of the retail sign-making business. There was nothing that looked like it in 1985.”

In 1992, Brickell sold the franchise. Some of the stores have kept the name, but many have since rebranded, including what is now Prosigns in Barrie.

Brickell wanted to teach people how to run sign-making companies without huge overhead costs, so he created Sign Master Training and worked with more than 200 independent business owners between eastern Canada and northeastern U.S.

“I taught them how to run between the legs of the big boys,” he said.

But after 9/11, the business community was in a panic, he said.

Brickell had just moved to BWG, and instead of opening a training and demonstration centre, he decided to go back to his roots of doing the printing and installing himself.

From this, eSigns was born, and one of his employees is his son, Jesse, the production manager.

Now, Brickell is happy to meet customers’ needs and help them solve problems.

His team is currently working on creating 3D signs and others that use holographic technology — “sort of like Back to the Future 2,” he said.

“A lot of people go to work and push papers. What was it all for? We can see our handiwork and it often lasts for decades,” Brickell said. “I live for Monday mornings.”

For more information on eSigns Canada, visit the website

Midweek Mugging is a weekly series profiling local businesses or interesting people in Bradford West Gwillimbury. Want to be featured? Email [email protected]

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Jenni Dunning

About the Author: Jenni Dunning

Jenni Dunning is a community editor and reporter who covers news in the Town of Bradford West Gwillimbury.
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