SignGuard adds safety and aesthetics to required signage.
story and photos by Don Kindred
The inspiration for an entrepreneur’s next big idea is born from a wide variety of experiences. For San Clemente’s Rick Wilson, it came from cutting his arm on a metal sign as he passed it on the street. It was a slight injury, but the light bulb went off. When he began to notice the sheer number of thin metallic signs adorning the public right of way, he was pretty certain others had also been victim to the sharp edges, which were often bent and rusted. There had to be a better way.
For Wilson, business is about solving problems, and this was a problem he could solve. He created a polymer frame that covers the standard thin-aluminum signs that are used for everything from No Parking and Handicap signs to way-finding or informational signage. His idea was to cover the sharp edges, add stability and protect the signs against vandalism.
“When we first started out, our focus was on safety. Signs are sharp. Let’s do something about it. Our SignGuard product started as a silicone band. It has evolved into a patented Sign Frame and Bracket System, made of High Density Polyethylene (HDPE) that attaches signs to a post without any through-going bolts. Our ColorCore HDPE SignGuard can be engraved with logos and messaging for branding and way-finding purposes.
“Our mission,” says Wilson, “is to change the way signs are displayed and viewed. Most signage is an afterthought, an overlooked but required architectural element of most developments. We think a lot about signs; how they look, how they’re perceived, and how they enhance the brand voice and customer/client/public experience. Our custom designs coordinate with the look and feel of a project or business. Sure they’re required, but they can also bring a positive awareness to the property and physical location.”
Since 2013, ColorCore HDPE SignGuards have become the principle product at the new company, which is called Public Safety Industries, LLC (PSI). Located in the Talega Business Park, PSI is a truly family-owned and locally-operated business, employing Rick, his wife Kathy and daughter, Katie.
The first HDPE SignGuards they installed were at Minuteman Press in Dana Point. At the time they were placing the signs into a recessed area and through-bolting it to a post. They looked all right, but Rick wasn’t happy with the bolts going directly through the sign face. Back to the drawing board he went, eventually finding inspiration on a trip to Europe.
“After visiting France, Italy and Germany,” he recalls, “I noticed a much more refined system that promoted passive safety and a clean-looking installation. I couldn’t wait to get home and apply what I saw over there to our original idea.”
With help from his friend David Ames at Sovereign Flavors he was able to put the new system to the test with positive results. From there he connected with the City of San Clemente to donate three new Beach Trail Rules signs along the City’s popular coastal trail. They collaborated with City staff on a design that eliminated or combined the information of five unattractive metal signs into two that actually add to the beauty of the coastal path, with SignGuard’s frame protecting the signs and the public.
“We truly believe,” Wilson asserts, “that if signage is positive, welcoming and inclusive, it is also much less likely to be vandalized. City staff has been very impressed with the durability of our sign systems.”
Three years later they look as good as the day they were installed.
From that project, they had the opportunity to bid and win the outdoor signage contract for the new Taylor Morrison development, Sea Summit, including signs for their trails, five parks and four residential neighborhoods.
“The four mile long Sea Summit trail system called for almost 100 of our custom signs,” says Wilson, “along with the new parks and neighborhoods we did another 250 custom signs. We were able to brand each neighborhood which helps foster a sense of community and pride of ownership. Locally we are working on projects in Talega and Ladera Ranch, while we have ongoing jobs for commercial, residential and municipal entities from San Diego to Santa Rosa.”
SignGuard is manufactured in the USA and backed by a ten-year warranty.