After finding success with the creation of Thinkwerx Inc., local businessman Kelsey Brennan appears to have hit another home run with his newest endeavor 310-Sign.
The new local start-up company, which was officially incorporated in January of 2014, saw sales skyrocket and will surpass over $1 million in its first full year.
“The rate we are currently running at is around eight to 10 new customers a week,” said Brennan. “That used to be around one to two new customers a month, so seeing that pace increase over the past year has been amazing. It was a good first year.”
The company's product is quite simple. Any sign or sticker you want, they can produce.
“We are shipping anything from safety signs to orientation stickers and labels, we do custom made products as well. They are usually small things but they are all made right here in Bonnyville,” said Brennan.
The idea to create a separate company specifically to produces signs came from the increased orders they were seeing at Thinkwerx. With the equipment to produce signs already in place, it was fairly simple for the company to start fielding different requests.
“As the oilfield continued to grow and expand we noticed those customers asking us if we could makes certain signs, so we started doing a lot more safety signs,” said Brennan. “We noticed that our production schedule got busier servicing those oilfield customers.”
After getting into producing more signs, Brennan says he realized that a lot of the shops producing signs were not meeting the regulations set out by Alberta Transportation and Occupational Health and Safety. This is when Brennan decided his company had to take the time to do the research and make sure everything they produced was up to provincial and national standards.
“It was a huge upgrade for us to take Thinkwerx from being a creative shop and go to more of a standards shop. Standards, for a lot of people, are considered boring,” said Brennan. “So we thought we could turn a boring industry into something more creative and something that is easier for people to understand.”
The first step in the creation of 310-Sign was the development of a website - AlbertaSafetySign.com. After two years of Brennan and his team building the site, which including putting close to 1,800 products online, orders started to pick up.
Although the business is flourishing with sales continually on the rise, it didn't start out that way.
“Initially for the first two years I thought I was going to bleed myself dry because we probably put about $100,000 into developing the website and paying for designers to set all of the stuff up and we were only getting one or two orders per month.”
A stubborn Brennan ignored his critics and pushed forward with the project, and eventually the orders and customers came.
The company now services places all over North America, with Alberta being the centre of the customer base.
Recently 310-Sign created some radar signs for the City of Edmonton traffic operations. The signs, also known as driver feedback signs, go on the back of utility work vehicles and notify the oncoming traffic of their speed as they approach.
“Those signs are the first of their kind which actually mounts the radar sign to the vehicle and we are the first company in Canada to offer them,” said Brennan.
That opportunity came from the deal 310-Sign reached with radarsign.com to be their exclusive distributor in Canada.
Another example of 310-Sign's work would be one of the radar signs in Bonnyville out by the new McDonalds.
Because their signs are Alberta Transportation regulated, they have also started to supply the Town with other signs, which helps Bonnyville save on shipping costs.
Although their primary focus is servicing the Lakeland, 310-Sign has started to expand and now fills orders all over Canada and the United States.
They have created the website 310sign.ca and even coughed up a large sum of money to purchase the phone number 310-SIGN (7446).
“Expansion down to places in the United States happened by accident,” said Brennan. “We didn't intend for orders to come from across Canada and across the U.S. like California and Texas, but people have been finding the website and the products they want.”
While many keep telling Brennan that trying to ship signs all over North America from a tiny location in Bonnyville is ridiculous, he has no intentions of leaving the community.
“I love Bonnyville. I love this location a lot. It offers a different lifestyle and a different pace that you can't get in a larger city centre like Edmonton,” said Brennan. “Although it is bold to try and ship from this location, so far it hasn't been a big hindrance.”
Brennan also wants to keep the revenue he creates local, along with supporting the community by providing local jobs. Just like Thinkwerx, he wants 310-Sign to be able to give back to the community.
“I've got a very big heart for Bonnyville and I want to make sure that the growth we are attaining and that all of the revenue we are receiving stays here and stays locally,” said Brennan.
As for the future of 310-Sign, Brennan sees sales continuing to increase and hopes to see it get as high as 25 or more new customers per week.
“In terms of growth, I think we are pushing for another year of doubling in size. That doesn't mean doubling staff and location, but primarily doubling customers and revenue.”