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Erik Sine

SignTech Electrical Advertising - American Dream I

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Though most of us on this board here are American, America is also a very powerful idea. Many have fought for it, died for it, and died trying to spread the idea of America around the world, that idea of which is individual Freedom, Liberty, and the "Pursuit of Happiness"

It’s an idea where capitalism and entrepreneur-ism thrives, where risk taking can be rewarded and it’s where the individual can make something out of nothing, or start with nothing and build an empire based on their own individual efforts. America is an idea that is duplicated all over the world.

I would like to start a new series of threads just like this one, so we'll call this one.....part I



SignTech Electrical Advertising


I have always said that I truly love this industry and I will never turn my back on it. One of the new found pleasures that comes with our new enterprise here on the Sign Syndicate of electric sign supplies is the part where I get to visit other sign shops. Call me a sign nerd, but I personally like to stroll through sign shops because I like to see the production, the transportation and finished products that are stored in the warehouses. That's probably because I also have a background in Electric Sign Production & Installation

One particular national sign company that I visit on occasion is SignTech Electrical Advertising based here in my hometown of San Diego. Even their website name says it all http://www.signtechusa.com/ or Signtech “USA”

There are so many sign companies with so many stories that started out with the American idea. This is one of those unique companies with a story, and a story that stand out because it's filled with herritage and tradition that is preserved by those that started it.

I got a call one day or maybe it started out as an email, I can’t remember which. In either case the gentlemen on the other end was “Corky” Shauer, owner and founder of Signtech which he started in 1984....But Corky’s roots go much deeper than 1984. In fact, he learned from his father, and now Corky’s son and siblings are now involved (3rd generation) along with a 4th generation now participating in the family business.

Corky on his fathers truck to working in his sign shop

corkykid.jpg young cork.jpg


He introduced himself and let me know he was a member of the Sign Syndicate site for some time and that he needed some assistance with some of the site functionality. I gladly helped him out and before getting off the phone he invited me to stop by the next time I was around his area so he could give me a tour of his new building he was in the process of on his property, I replied that would gladly.

On the next delivery that I had to make with his company I stopped in to see him. He introduced me to his son David and we discussed topics like Neon & LED testing, the LED world and the National Sign Company Review Forum. He jokingly inquired if their company had any bad reviews from subs.

He took me out in back to their new building where the concrete flooring hasn’t even been layed yet, we had to step between the rebar and I could see all the construction workers looking at us with stressful eyes as we strolled through with no hardhats. I could see their teeth gritting but what were they gonna do or say? It was Corky, and he was going to stroll through HIS new building that was being merged with his existing.


The new added building to their lot




I’ve met quite a few owners of sign companies, big and small. Some are energetic, some are tired, to some it’s just a business and a way to make a living. Corky is quite different. You would seriously think that he just started this company a couple of years ago. He has the energy of a kid, and he’s very proud of his company and the work that they do. Something he said to me stuck with me. He was showing me around, and I was in awe already as it was. But at one point we were in a their old Neon plant which was in th emidst of being cleared out. There were transformers everywhere of all manufacturers, sizes and makes laying everywhere, total dismay. He had his back to me and I could see that he was looking at the room probably in a way that it once was before the construction and more than likely in full swing & production. He said “you know...I don’t know how my business grew so fast.....it just did”.

I’ve always wondered about that transition from a one man operation to becoming a national. It must come fast sometimes. When you see what they do along with Corky’s passion, his energy, and his drive....it’s no wonder his business blew up. Some of Signtech’s biggest accounts are Chase, Wells Fargo along with some of the largest theme parks tourists visit on a regular basis. Sometimes their running three shifts everyday. Those forklifts are always moving without rest.

He knows no business is perfect by any means, and he won't tell you his is, but he wants to always get it right and he’s REAL big on quality.

There are a lot of aspects that make Signtech real successful but in my visit I saw and observed one of the reasons. A lot of family works there, and it’s not just Corky’s. There is a lot of different families from the fabricators, installers, and sales crew. That tells you something, “tradition”. There are a lot of happy workers at Signtech, and a lot have worked there for a very long time, and some have been in this industry for a very long time.


Terry Kitaen Sr. Account Executive (1960's while employed for California Neon Products working on the El Cortez Hotel)




New phase almost complete



SignTech is very "Old School" with a big mix of "New School" that comes into play with his son David taking on a large part of their new building phase. Which I got more detail on with the second tour I was given.

If you ever get the chance to visit their facility, you'll have to see their conference room. It basically hangs above suspended over their fabrication floor where you can see their CNC Water & Router tables in fabrication production mode along with the fabricators creating, and assembling away. As a potential client to be in that room, discussing your project...it's VERY impressive!

With their new building which is bottom floor production, 2nd floor office, administration & conference rooms they have probably the cleanest, most immaculate settings I've ever seen.






I wish I had taken my own pictures when I was given the tour, these are from facebook. I wish I would have thought about taking some pictures because their restrooms alone are better than any top 5 star hotel or restaurant that I've EVER seen. You would think that there would be a gentlemen by the faucet there to hand you a towel to dry your hands. Hey, you never know.....their not done yet!

Another impressive aspect to their newly added building is their stairwell. Stairwell??? I know. But they have a very LARGE stairwell that is basically been turned into a museum filled with the long standing traditions of our trade. Corky & David both have it planned to be filled wall to wall with display cases and since the building is a steel frame the walls will be dressed with the vintage double sided neon signs of days past that will protrude from the walls to the center of the room. They just might give the American Sign Museum a run one day!


SignTech is a site to see if you get the lucky opportunity. Maybe I'll get the chance to update this with pictures of my own.


Some dream, some contemplate about what they want to do in life, or where they want to go...


Corky had a vision and an idea for himself long ago, the most important thing he did....was act on it.

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You have enemies? Good. That means you've stood up for something, sometime in your life. - Winston Churchill

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I've known Corky since I was in high school. He ran a shop in Tempe Arizona. That was long time ago. His neon was done by my dad, and that was back in the days of hand fabrication, etc. My first job at that shop was to dig two 30" x 9' holes ---- by hand using shovels and post hole diggers. He always made it a point of stopping at my dads during the holidays for my mom's fresh baked Christmas cookies, and pumpkin pies. He was a gentleman then, and still is. One of the good guys!! Absolutely one of my dad's favorite people - when he moved to California to start his shop there it was a loss for Phoenix. I've run into Corky a couple times at shows, and once on a trip to California for diving. He has a good memory also --- .

Whenever I've passed his old shop - they were closed, but obviously growing. I highly doubt you will ever hear a bad rap on his company -------.

Way to go Corky!! I'll tell my mom that you're still well - and still growing.

Gary Nutting

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That is a very inspirational story. Thanks for sharing that Erik!

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What a great success story. Im happy to see the family involvment and that the company is ready for the future.

Its nice to have the space to grow and do it right.

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By far the best company and best boss I ever had the pleasure to work for (back in the early 90's).


Garett Churchill

Fluxeon, Inc.


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What a wonderful writeup about one of our local companies! Thanks for the great read!

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Hung for Corky in NJ from the early 90's to 2005 when I left Jersey.

Always a Prince of a Man.

Best to you Cork.

Dennis Toner - Alliance Sign

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Great story - thanks for sharing!

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What an awesome and inspirational story....thanks for sharing!

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glad to see that whole family is involved and that the company is ready for the future.What a great success story.

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