SignElements® is Awarded Seventh
YMCA Recognition Signage Project
(Greenville, WI - February 25, 2010)
SignElements®, a division of TJWels Company, has been awarded the architectural signage and recognition package for the new Fond du Lac Family YMCA and Boys & Girls Club. The project scope includes the design, fabrication and installation of exterior, interior and recognition signage.
The graphics package will encompass various elements, including: interior ADA signage, wayfinding, room naming, donor walls and exterior building and entrance identification.
Sustainable design, materials and fabrication techniques will be paramount within the project elements to be consistent with and enhance the architectural design of the new, impressive facility.
As the project is planned to progress in phases throughout the year, so too will the graphics package. With demolishing, rebuilding and remodeling of certain areas, the signage will be fabricated in coordination with each stage. All fabrication is performed "in-house" at SignElements® state-of-the-art facility in Greenville, Wis.
With years of experience on health and wellness projects, SignElements® has added to the YMCA's growth throughout the region. Along with the Fond du Lac Family YMCA, SignElements® has created signage solutions for the Oshkosh West YMCA and all YMCA of the Fox Cities locations, which includes: Apple Creek, Appleton, Fox West, Heart of the Valley and Neenah-Menasha.
SignElements® Designs Exclusive
LEED Signage For New UW-Fox Valley Center
(Menasha, WI - September 21, 2009)
SignElements® has designed and fabricated the architectural and donor recognition signage for the new 51,000 sq. ft. UW-Fox Valley Communication Arts Center. The signage package included an exclusive, modular series of room identification signs along with a variety of aluminum dimensional lettering. In addition, a custom-designed recognition display was created within the guidelines of the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Green Building Rating System, corresponding with the building’s sustainability level.
With the completion of this project, SignElements® has created signage solutions for eight of the University of Wisconsin college campuses.
Click here to view the UW-Fox Valley CAC project profile.
Finding Ways to Stand Out in Sign Industry
"When I got out of my previous line of work, I knew I was driven to do something," said Welson, president and founder of IntelliCAM (www.nameplatetech.net), a Greenville-based maker of identification products. "I don't want to say I was bored in my previous career, but I had no ownership stake in that business, and I wanted to change that."
After a five-year stint in industrial control systems, Welson found himself in the engraving services business. By 1995, he had purchased Instant Signs, which opened the door to architectural signage or directional finders and markers to help people navigate inside buildings. The company's name later changed to Sign Systems Inc. and by 2000, changed to IntelliCAM, to reflect the company's broader scope of services.
Welson admits that while his company has grown since its beginnings, it hasn't had much focus until recently. "We were struggling a couple of years ago," he said. "I just came off a year where our sales had increased, but there was less profit left over and that was disheartening."
At that point, Welson knew he had to step back and analyze the operational structure of his business. Entrepreneurs tend to be very hands on, Welson said. He believed for his company to move ahead, he needed to remove himself from the day-to-day production and focus on the administrative side of the business. "You have to be able to let something go," Welson said. "As an entrepreneur, that's tough because you built the business. I used to be very hands-on from a production standpoint, but now my passion is more on the internal workings, team building and building the infrastructure to support the company's growth."
Welson said trusting staff with the daily operations was a big step for him. Kelly Stelow, operations manager at IntelliCAM, leads that effort. "It's been gratifying for me that Trevor has put that much trust in the work I've done," she said. "He has surrounded himself with people he knows that can manage the business and handle the work, so if he needs to be out of town for a week, he knows we will be able to take care of the business."
Stelow has worked for Welson for nearly seven years. She has seen the company evolve rapidly during that time. "Our focus certainly has changed in that we're now looking more at architectural signage and donor recognition," Stelow said.
Expansion moves forward
Welson recently moved his company into a new $1.3 million, 12,000 square-foot facility, which is double the size of his previous Greenville site. Though the economy appears to be in a downturn, Welson did not let that influence his decision to move forward with his building project.
"We simply needed more room," he said. "If the economy really were to tank, we may be affected by it, but I didn't want that to influence whether or not we moved forward with the new building." There has been one benefit of the economic downturn. As interest rates have fallen, Welson said borrowing costs have been favorable.
IntelliCAM's new facility has an open feel, with plenty of natural light and bright colors. "I wanted no earth tones, I wanted bright and lively," Welson said. The core of any business is finding steady work to maintain cash flow. Welson credits long-time relationships with architectural firms and construction companies including the Boldt Co. in Appleton and Miron Construction in the Town of Menasha.
"Regardless of what the economy is doing, there is construction going on everywhere," he said. "Certainly there are periods where it's stronger than others but if you have the flexibility to go into a variety of environments, then you will do well." Getting jobs means going out and finding the work, Welson said. "The next client always is right around the corner," he said. "One thing I realized when I got in this business, I did note that my industry is not going away, but I had to keep up with trends and technology, which I have done, so I knew I'd be safe in that regard."
There was a time Welson considered taking on business partners, though he feels more comfortable calling the shots himself. He's looking at donor recognition as an area of expansion. This is a service where a decorative display is set up in a prominent spot inside a company or organization, thanking various contributors who made a project a success. Welson has done some work for the Fox Valley Humane Association and the ACES Xavier Educational System. Between eight and 10 companies nationally do similar work in donor recognition, Welson said. Welson said he does have the property to double the size of his existing facility.
"I absolutely believe we will grow," he said. "I don't know any other way than growth mode." It is up to entrepreneurs to decide how large they want their businesses to get, Welson said. He believes someone can make a good living running a company that makes between $300,000 and $500,000 annually. "If you're satisfied with that there are plateaus you have to maintain," Welson said. "However, if you want to continue to grow, you have to put the infrastructure in place to help you manage the growth." Welson says he doesn't have a grand vision for his company, but does think about the future and what he must do to support and sustain a larger organization.
"In any business, it's about separating yourself from your competition," he said. "Conducting business is not rocket science. It's about finding a need, filling that need and finding value along the way."
Completion of $250K Signage Project
for Arts Center in Austin, Texas
(Greenville WI - April 8, 2008)
SignElements®, architectural design studio and fabrication, has completed the architectural signage for the Joe R. and Teresa Lozano Long Center for the Performing Arts in Austin, Texas.
SignElements® worked with Zeidler Partnership and Nelsen Partners to develop the interior and exterior signage program. The Long Center project is their second for Zeidler Partnership (www.zeidlerpartnership.com), the architectural firm responsible for the design of the Fox Cities Performing Arts Center.
SignElements® was responsible for the design, fabrication, project management and installation of ADA, wayfinding and donor recognition signage.
"For this project, our team combined ADA with donor recognition. These signage entities are almost always developed separately. Combining wayfinding and donor recognition created value to the client in terms of design, cost and efficiencies without compromising look and feel of the surrounding environment," states Trevor Welson, president of TJWels Company (www.tjwels.net).
Click here to view the Long Center project profile.
Diverse Small Company Handles
Signage for Fox Cities Performing Arts Center
Trevor Welson is facing the biggest challenge in his 10-year career as a business owner. His company, SignElements®, must complete exterior, donor plaques and wayfinding signage for the Fox Cities Performing Arts Center within about two months.
"By far, this is the largest job we've ever done," Welson said. While garnering a piece of the high-profile $45 million PAC project represents a coup for his small firm, Welson credits his company’s ability to handle many, diverse processes in one shop.
After high school graduation, Welson went to work for a Little Chute manufacturer of electrical controls and related products. At the end of six years, he had done everything, but “didn’t have a stake in the company, except for sweat equity,” he said.
“I was a little frustrated; I wanted to do something on my own, and I felt that I could,” Welson recalled.
In February 1993, he rented 150 square feet of space on Appleton’s Wisconsin Avenue and, with one engraving machine, launched Engraving Services, making identification tags for machinery and equipment. Several business acquisitions and corporate name changes later, Welson’s company has evolved into Intellicam Custom Products Corp., a multifaceted operation with 10 employees located in an 8,000-square-foot building in the Greenville Business Park.
“He has state-of-the-art equipment and is able to make very high-precision parts more efficiently than we can,” said Dan Aritt, president of Miscoe, an industrial manufacturing company based in Minnesota.
In 1999, Welson’s shop became only the third U.S. company to purchase a Datron computer numeric control (CNC) router, a $100,000 machine made in Germany. Although carrying a hefty price tag for a small business, this machine gave Welson the ability to do varied architectural signage and allowed him to expand beyond the OEM (original equipment manufacturer) market.
“It was a big leap, a big gamble for me, but within six months, we were running it eight hours a day,” Welson said. One year later, he bought a second CNC router.
Welson’s expansion has broadened his capabilities to engraving, routing, machining, screen-printing, metalphoto and vinyl lettering.
“All the different processes we do intertwine,” Welson said, noting the benefit to such diversity is the ability to be a onestop shop.
Working with the PAC’s Florida-based architectural group, Welson engraved 29 zinc panels for the building’s exterior signage. The “Founder’s Wall,” a 16-by-8-foot zinc panel, and smaller donor plaques were created in Welson’s shop, as were nearly 400 way-finding signs that appear throughout the structure.
Welson’s design for donor plaques eliminates costly reordering and reconfiguring of space when changes are dictated, since names are on smaller magnetic metal pieces that can be swapped out easily and efficiently.
“We started with a budget and references for two national firms (to produce signage),” said John Bergstrom, chairman of the PAC board, “but Trevor did a better job and gave us a total concept package.”
Welson’s wife, Bethann, who normally stays home with their two children, has been working in the office to get the company through the heavy workload that the PAC job has created.
He has added one temporary employee and gone to two eight-hour shifts to keep the two CNC routers busy 32 hours a day on the PAC exterior signage and donor plaques. Interior way-finding signs are created using engraving, routing, and screen-printing processes.
“The timing of this project is right,” Welson said. “Two years ago, I wouldn’t have been ready for it, but with age comes wisdom and experience,” he said.
And company growth: “This year (sales) should be up about 30 percent over last year,” he said.
When choosing Intellicam to produce the PAC signage, Bergstrom recalled agreeing with Kathi Seifert, who made the final decision on vendors.
“Kathi said, ‘The quality of work that Trevor does is in line with the quality of the facility we’re trying to build.”
“The interesting thing is his pricing is very competitive, so we’re getting a premium product without paying a premium price,” Bergstrom said.
After settling into his new building in January 2000, Welson began concentrating on his Web site, allowing him to get business from across the nation and the world.
“Now in any given month, 10 to 5 percent of our work comes off the Internet,” he said. “I did a stainless steel engraving job for a furniture company in Malta, and it was all set up by e-mail,” he said.
Welson is not sure what the next step in his business will be, but he admits to thinking about going into laser engraving or perhaps another business acquisition.
“It’s a great way to grow a business,” he said, “and I love conducting business.”
Acknowledging that the fast-track push to complete the PAC signage in record time is a challenge, Welson is philosophical about the future.
“I’d be bored if the challenges weren’t there,” he said. “(The business) will go as far as our marketing goes, and I’ll be along for the ride.”
Click here to view the Fox Cities PAC project profile.