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MetroSigns Melbourne rising to new heights
By Alison Stieven-Taylor

Signs are part of the urban landscape and are taken for granted by most of us who in the rush of our own hectic lives don’t give a second thought to what it might take to erect a sign atop a high-rise tower or across a major intersection or above the freeway.

Signs are part of the urban landscape and are taken for granted by most of us who in the rush of our own hectic lives don’t give a second thought to what it might take to erect a sign atop a high-rise tower or across a major intersection or above the freeway.

Above, Peter Rose. Below, a photo of MetroSigns building as well as some of the projects.

Peter Rose, national sales manager for Melbourne sign company MetroSigns knows exactly what’s involved. He recounts a story about a job the company did for a large hotel in Sydney recently. Located on a high traffic road, and near the domestic airport, the logistics were complex. MetroSigns, as the project manager, had to liaise with traffic management and air traffic control to gain permission to use cranes to hoist the sign to the roof top more than ten floors above. But getting the required permits wasn’t the problem says Rose. 

“Everytime we tried to raise the sign the weather played havoc. It would be still on the ground, virtually no breeze, but as soon as the sign, which was large and light, was lifted up the building the wind would catch it. Of course you couldn’t know what the wind was doing until you were halfway up. As a result there were lots of false starts and the process took much longer than we’d anticipated. But the weather is of course one of the few things that is beyond our control.”

The exasperation in Rose’s voice conveys that this job was no joking matter unlike the date that MetroSigns started, on April Fools Day 20 years ago.  Today this family business located in Epping, north of Melbourne, is one of the premier sign manufacturers in the country.

MetroSigns sprang into life in 1991 in a warehouse in Dynon Road, West Melbourne.  At the time Australia was struggling with the ‘recession we had to have’ and MetroSigns was occupied with removing and storing signs for companies who were downsizing rather than producing new signs. But as the economy recovered business began to grow.

An early client was Subaru, which led MetroSigns into the automotive industry. The company doesn’t claim to specialise in any particular market, says Rose, “but we do have a reputation in the automotive sector and produce a significant volume of work for this market”.

By 2007 MetroSigns had outgrown its West Melbourne premises. The company moved to a custom-built factory and showroom at Epping, where there’s easy access to the city and also to freight services via Melbourne’s network of ring roads and freeways.

“West Melbourne became too small to operate efficiently and as a consequence there wasn’t room to grow the business,” says Rose who has been with the company for five years. “We needed a facility that provided the space to manufacture signs concurrently and for storage also. West Melbourne was a rabbit warren, but where we are now is open, spacious and has been purpose-designed to accommodate the production flow from start to finish.” MetroSigns does everything in-house, which says Rose is one reason why they needed a much larger space.

The site at Epping houses the company’s extensive manufacturing plant as well as a showroom that doubles as an educational facility – MetroSigns welcomes design students into its showroom to demonstrate how various signs are made.

Today MetroSigns employs approximately 25 staff in roles as diverse as project management through to designers, metal fabricators, printers, painters and electricians. The company was the first Australian sign manufacturer to achieve quality accreditation to AS/NZS ISO 9001:2000 and has been awarded the prestigious Quality Assurance mark which is internationally recognised as a symbol of excellence.

MetroSigns produces a wide range of signage across all market segments as Rose explains. “We work with big multi-national blue chip clients as well as individual businesses. We haven’t forgotten our roots, but we do consciously target the big guys. The only signage we don’t produce is billboards. Outside of that we cover the whole gamut”.

When asked what are the significant milestones for the signage industry Rose says digital large format printing has had “a massive impact”. And in the last five years a focus on the environment has seen the growth of LED signs due to their lower power consumption. Although when Rose quotes for solar powered signs the price is usually the stumbling block. “It’s still a very expensive option”.

For MetroSigns, one of the most significant changes in the way it does business can be seen online. The company operates an online project management system where clients can log in and track their jobs. ”They can see where their project is, look at photos and provide feedback,” says Rose.

But don’t assume that because there is online project management that MetroSigns deals with customers remotely. This couldn’t be further from the truth says Rose explaining that clients are assigned a dedicated project manager who is responsible for the job from start to finish.

“Our project management service is a real stand out feature of the business. Once the client orders the sign we take over and manage every aspect including securing council permits, building applications, all the ancillary things that are required to erect a sign, but often overlooked.”

In conclusion Rose puts the company’s success down to an unwavering commitment to service, quality and keeping up with technology. “We’ve got virtually every piece of equipment needed to produce any type of signage. We really are a one stop shop”.

To find out more visit: www.metrosigns.com.au 

Alison Stieven-Taylor is the creative director of Reality & Illusion Productions a B2B Media Communications Company. She is also an author, journalist and photographer. To find out more visit: www.realityillusion.com