When the COVID-19 provincial lockdown struck in March, Lori and Randy Perin, Classic Signs owners, wondered if they, like so many other business people, would have to (at least temporarily) shut their doors.
Businesses and organizations all over town needed COVID-related signage, Classic Signs therefore becoming something of an essential service.
“Nobody (officially) deemed us that way. The day we were supposed to close, the police ordered signs, the hospital ordered signs. These are essential businesses, and my view was if they’re essential businesses and they require our services, that makes us essential,” Randy said, speaking to SooToday.
Algoma Public Health (APH) soon gave Classic Signs the go ahead to keep operating as an essential service provider.
“There was always PPE for hospital workers but now it’s everywhere. Everywhere you go there’s a piece of acrylic up, some kind of guard, decals on the floor saying stay six feet apart,” Randy said, noting there was, and is, a shortage in materials needed for sign making due to COVID-inspired demand.
The Classic Signs crew, based in the Industrial Court immediately west of Great Northern Road, has numerous local clients.
Their signs can be seen across the city at businesses and organizations (some strictly local, others being local branches of large corporations)..
“We opened in 1993 on Northern Avenue, a small neon sign shop. That’s all we did. Over the years there was demand for more and more products, then we moved to the Industrial Court in 1995,” Randy said.
The shop’s original location was 800 square feet in size, its current home nearly 7,000 square feet.
“We’re a full service sign shop. We can do everything from vehicle lettering, real estate signs, pylon signs, awnings, canopies, now the COVID signs, vehicle wraps, boat lettering, snowmobiles. If it’s got lettering on it, we do it,” Randy said.
“We’ll get the information from the customer, relay that to the graphic designers, the customer approves it, we price it then produce it. I’d say 95 per cent of the production is done here, all in house.”
“We offer in-house design services, so if a customer comes to us with a pencil drawing, we bring it to life,” said son Tyler Perin, who keeps busy as the company’s graphics department lead.
“This is a very engaging and evolving industry. It’s always changing. It keeps us on our toes and allows us to be creative and solve problems in new ways,” Tyler said.
Signage done by Classic Signs for Pino’s Get Fresh was featured in U.S.-based SignCraft Magazine in 2018.
The business employs six full-time and two part-time workers, including Lori and Randy and sons Tyler and Kody, the two sons planning to take the helm once Lori and Randy retire.
“We get a lot of letters of appreciation from customers. They appreciate the job we’ve done. It’s nice to be able to take a job from raw materials, manufacture it here in this shop in Sault Ste. Marie, put it up on a building, it lasts, and the customers are happy. We’re employing people, our two sons have been a huge part of our growth, and as for our crew, everybody’s on board with the same good attitude,” Randy said.
“It’s very satisfying when you drive around town and see the signs,” Lori smiled.