Signature Sign Company Crafts Two Cleveland Icons with Help from Tetra

The Opportunity

Bruce Farkas, the President at Signature Sign Company, has a reputation for creating unusual designs as part of his signage projects. What began as a passion for art morphed into creative ideas for signs, and it eventually led him to start Signature Sign Company in Cleveland, Ohio, in 1987.

It was his company’s creative flair and strong reputation in the Cleveland area that led to two opportunities: First was a rooftop sign adorning The Flats East Bank, a sprawling apartment and entertainment complex in downtown Cleveland. The second was Euclid Grand, a renovation of 1920s-era buildings on the city’s bustling Euclid Avenue. Farkas and Signature Sign Company were brought in by the owner’s rep, who was an architect working on both projects.

“We have a reputation in this city for doing unusual, complicated work, like building public sculptures and doing high design signs, which we design in-house and then fabricate,” Farkas explained. “He [the rep] had known about us and we had worked with him. They wanted us to do the work, which was a nice compliment.”

The Solution

Designs for both The Flats and Euclid Grand signs harken back to classic neon aesthetics. Farkas and team knew they wanted to create iconic looking signs that had a big city feel to them. However, when looking at the intricacies of each project, it was clear that traditional neon lighting would not work.

For The Flats project, the positioning of the sign would make maintaining exposed neon too cumbersome, especially given the harsh weather conditions typical of its location on the Cuyahoga River. Euclid Grand’s location overlooking one of the busiest streets in Cleveland would also pose a maintenance headache if neon were used—any work on the sign would necessitate street shutdowns or roadblocks. Despite having a fully functioning in-house neon shop, the Signature Sign team knew they’d have to find a reliable, low maintenance replacement that could hold up over time and shine larger than life over the city.

Some team members had past experience with Tetra and suggested it as a solution for the sign in The Flats. Once the full crew saw the creative and logistical opportunities using Tetra would create, they were on board with using Contour, and the rest is history.

“We brought some [Tetra Contour] in, checked it out and ended up using Tetra for that job. And I can’t tell you how thrilled we were with it. It did everything we wanted, and it looked exactly like how we wanted it to look,” said Farkas. “When you see that sign, it looks like a classic neon, rooftop sign. It was really, really great.”

After seeing the success of using Contour in The Flats, the team knew it was up for the Euclid Grand job. “Since we used it for The Flats East Bank rooftop letters, and it worked so well there and was so perfect, we had no qualms about it at all,” Farkas said.

Why Current

While Current and the Tetra Contour were chosen due to a combination of the appearance and versatility of the product, Signature Sign had to make sure their shop had all the tools needed to successfully work with the Contour. This was especially important in the case of the Euclid Grand sign, which had several tight bends and a more intricate design than The Flats project.

“We fabricated an oven in the shop to be used through the torpedo heater to heat up the Contour product. It took the guys awhile to be able to get it right,” Farkas said. “In Euclid Grand there were quite a few bends, and we ended up routing into plywood forms in which to place the Contour after the lengths were heated.”

The Current team was also able to provide support and expertise to assist in completing the Euclid Grand sign successfully.

“There was a little bit of a learning curve even though we had worked with it before and that’s really where [Current’s] Mark Mikulka was just terrific. He came over, he stayed with us and got into the shop with the guys and made some recommendations to us, one of which was to get a temperature gauge for our homemade oven. That made a difference really in our being able to do it and do it well. So that was a big deal. He was a lot of help.”

The Results

With The Flats East Bank and Euclid Grand signs now shining proudly over the city of Cleveland, the team considers both projects a success.

“However many adjectives you can find for the word thrilled … [the customers] were super happy in each case,” Farkas said. “They were besides themselves really. Just thrilled. And we were all happy about it because we like building big and iconic things, so everybody here is really proud of both of those jobs.”

The creation of these two instantly iconic signs is a win for the Signature Sign team, their happy customers and especially the city of Cleveland, which gained two fantastic and visually appealing additions to the downtown area.

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