Oracle Magazine

logoChris Reilly is the centre owner of the Plymouth branch of Signs Express. We rely on signs everyday to tell us where to go and where we are, and we spoke to Chris about the importance of signage for businesses.

Nearly 20 years ago, Chris Reilly left the Navy and opened the Plymouth branch of Signs Express. He’s part of the largest signs company in the UK and Ireland, which has 25 years experience and branches across the country. They’re “Proud to Franchise”.

At age 40, Chris retired from the Navy but wasn’t ready to call it a day with his career. He was keen to work for himself, so set about finding a franchise with his wife.

“We looked at a lot of franchises, and looked at their concepts and understood what was required. We saw a lot of good ones and some not as good, but we chose Signs Express because, in our opinion, it was the way to go. They’ve been very good and have expanded the network significantly over the time we have been with them.”

One person specialises in vehicle wrapping and another does a lot of installations, then there’s a production manager, and designers who create the concept before it’s produced. Chris doesn’t get too involved with the production of signage, but manages his talented team and looks after clients as he brings their ideas and projects to life.


Chris Reilly

Chris and his team also compete to win awards within the franchise, coming in as a finalist in 2014 for Best Sign Project. This is judged not only on the final product, but also on the entire project management. Back in 2005, the team were presented with awards for the Best Vehicle Graphics project, for which they worked on graphics for a powerboat. There are few limits to what Signs Express can do in this industry.

The business specialises in vehicle graphics, exterior and interior signs, window graphics, exhibition displays, PVC banners, labels and stickers, and health and safety signs for Plymouth and the surrounding areas.

It’s easy to spot their work, and many people in the city walk by it every day. The stainless steel signage on the wall of the Roland Levinsky building at Plymouth University was created by the team at Signs Express.

“The reason we liked that project so much is because we were involved with the whole build. As the building was being put together we were involved with sorting signs for inside as well.”

Sometimes the projects are for existing businesses which are going through a rebrand and refurbishment. One of those companies was Gillakaster Solicitors, who had new signage plus digitally-printed, etched effect vinyl applied to interior windows.

At the moment the team are working on signage for Burts Chips, which includes a vehicle wrap on a Mini Cooper. This is carried out in a temperature controlled vehicle bay, which ensures that the member of staff has the perfect environment to work in while achieving a high-quality finish on the product.

_DSC0282Dartmoor Brewery took a large white van to Signs Express for a vehicle wrap with their logo and branding. They needed a black background as part of their branding and identity, so the entire van was wrapped and it’s very difficult to tell that the van was once white. This wrapping is hard-wearing against chips and scratches, and can eventually be peeled off to reveal the paintwork underneath as it was.

This all forms part of Chris’s busy, daily schedule, which starts off with a drive through the beautiful South Hams where he lives. His days include production meetings with the team, responding to quote requests and keeping on top of admin, between meetings with new and existing clients to organise projects. Part of their service is the offer of free site visits as Chris discusses their signage requirements with them.

Dartmoor BreweryWhen Chris isn’t at work, you can find him sailing. In June, he and five others (including his cyclist/runner son) took up the challenge of the South West Three Peaks Yacht Race. This involved sailing 125 miles, cycling 140 miles and running 29 miles in just one weekend, and all money raised by the team and their supporters has gone to St Luke’s Hospice.

Back in the office, Chris is constantly looking ahead to the future to see who he can work with next. Their equipment is all fairly new, and each investment reduces their lead times and extends the range of products and services on offer. “Our industry tends to progress very quickly with technology.”

The team have also been utilising their ‘Rolls Roller’ flatbed, which applies digital images to large panels quickly, efficiently and accurately.

Chris believes that signage is an incredibly important part of any business. “Signs and graphics are still one of the most cost effective advertising mediums and can last for years, so they’re a great investment for any business. 97% of people in our recent survey said that professional signs help give a positive first impression of a business so it’s an opportunity not to be missed.”

It seems that the team at Signs Express, Plymouth, have dealt with such a huge range of products and projects that it might be difficult to find something they can’t do.

Try them with your signage needs –

Call 01752 563336

Find them at: Unit 12-14 Wolseley Business Park, Plymouth, PL2 3BY


Chris with his team at Signs Express, Plymouth

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