Sign Facets shoots for the stars and succeeds at The GAPP Awards 2022

With an impressive portfolio of clients and an uncompromising attitude towards excellence and innovation, it’s no wonder that Sign Facets has become a formidable force in the signage sector. The company claimed Gold, Silver and Bronze Awards in the Large Format – Non-printed products and a Silver Award in the Large Format – Wallpaper categories at The GAPP Awards 2022.

Founded in 2002 by Steffen Coetzee and his father, Sign Facets has demonstrated continuous growth in the south of Johannesburg. What started as a team of five who serviced local businesses in Alberton has now become a powerhouse comprising of 140 employees, offices in Booysens (Johannesburg), Ballito (KwaZulu-Natal) and Cape Town (Western Cape).

‘We started the company in Alberton, from there we moved to Alrode and we then moved to Booysens about three years ago. Our decision to relocate premises twice was in order to facilitate the constant growth that we were experiencing,’ reminisced Steffen Coetzee, Managing Director at Sign Facets.

Steffen’s father passed away in 2019, which eventually led to him bringing a partner into the business. The person in question was Renato Guilherme, who was employed as a Sales Representative at Sign Facets and had proven to be an asset to the company. His hard work and dedication prompted Steffen to reward his efforts with a share in the firm.

As a national signage manufacturer, Sign Facets is a supplier of signage and branding ranging from directional and fire signage all the way through to wallpaper, with fabricated custom-made signage being its speciality. Only a limited number of signage businesses are able to produce this kind of signage in-house, with the firm further differentiating itself by producing premium products.

The company boasts an impressive 12 full time rigging teams who handle the installation of signage for large corporate clients nationwide. ‘One of the most crucial aspects of our business is the rigging because ultimately, that’s the final product, which is why we opted not to outsource any rigging and rather employ riggers ourselves,’ he explained. ‘This enables us to manage them and keep everything in our control so as to ensure that we don’t let our clients down.’

Steffen added that, with there being the tendency for signage to be the last thing to be considered when a new business or branch is opened, him and his team have only a couple of weeks to manufacture the signage and have it installed.

‘We tend to be the last people in, so if shopfitters, electricians or plumbers run late, it leaves us having to work down to the wire to ensure that the installation is completed on time. When a store has to open on a specific day, we don’t have the luxury of being able to move the deadline, so it’s necessary for us to have our own teams – it’s not just about being able to manage the quality of the our workmanship but it’s also to ensure that we have staff available to work according to the timelines that we have been given,’ he continued.

‘The growth in our business has come mainly from the food sector, with most of them being large corporates. We aren’t the sole suppliers to all of them but in most instances, we do the majority of their work. While our core focus lies with corporate clients, we still look after customers who may have a store in a shopping centre or who want to open a small retailer,’ Steffen added.

When a client wants to try something new, Sign Facets will make them samples and go through all of the advantages and disadvantages involved, even if it entails months of going backwards and forwards to determine how the sign will be made, what materials will be used and how the entire process will be executed.

‘We were recently involved in the full rebrand of a popular restaurant chain that included them changing their logo. We worked with a design studio specialising in the design of commercial interior spaces to come up with a way to develop and manufacture their new signage, which involved a myriad of elements and doing a lot of R&D with our suppliers.’

Aside from providing signage and the maintenance thereof to its customers, the operation also offers consultation services to customers wanting to leverage its experience or in need of direction and advice. As an example, should a fast food outlet want to develop a drive-thru, Sign Facets is able to guide it through the process of determining what will work and what won’t; where they should place speaker boxes and menus; and whatever else that would be required for it to function optimally.

The company is uncompromising when it comes to quality and service, especially since most of its clientele are corporates who want to visit the factory to see what the operation is capable of. ‘When they come in and vet us as a potential new supplier or when they come for a meeting to develop a new product, we take them to the factory and show them our equipment that are able to turn their ideas into product,’ Steffen shared.

‘From meeting a client; understanding the brief; getting the design done; executing the job as part of that service; and then culminating with our aftersales service, I think what really differentiates us from anyone else is the way that we deal with the rare instances of there being problems onsite or there are failures on a product,’ he added.

Utilising quality substrate is of equal importance to the company with Steffen saying that it only uses premium product. ‘I think in signage more than any other sector, if you give me a sign to make, I can give you five different ways to make it and use five different products to do so – and to the eye you should get a similar looking product. The caveat is that the cheapest will last a few months and the most expensive will last approximately seven years. And again, this is where we try to differentiate ourselves – we only use the best vinyl, the best profiles for our fabrication; we try and use the best of the best for everything that we produce,’ he continued.

It’s for this reason that it comes as no surprise that the company was recognised as being the “Pinnacle of Excellence” at The GAPP Awards 2022. ‘I think in our industry we don’t get acknowledged enough and to have these Awards give recognition for what we do every day – it’s a great feeling to win. It’s great to come back to your staff and show them, ‘Look at the sign you’ve made and look at the Award we received – it’s been recognised.’’

Steffen continued, ‘It so happened that we won Gold, Silver and Bronze in the Large Format – Non-printed products category and with signage being our core business, it was a category that we wanted to be recognised in, so to be able to achieve it was unreal. It’s great to be able to say on our website that we’re an award-winning signage company because we now have the recognition from an industry point of view that was judged by a panel of independent adjudicators.’

Sign Facets’ management, the Project Manager and the designers who were involved in the winning entries attended the gala event at Emperors Palace on 25 March 2022. The highlight of the evening for Steffen was to win and watch the team get the accolades that they deserved, comprising of a Gold, two Silver and one Bronze Award.

‘It was great to see their excitement and for their hard work to be noticed, because now we’ve been recognised by The GAPP, seeing their appreciation and just the general sort of feeling that they’ve accomplished something, and then obviously bringing the Awards back to the factory and telling the guys on the ground who did the work that we’ve won, that was unreal. Our customers were obviously very happy as well,’ Steffen shared.

He added that winning at the Awards is a selling tool for the business saying, ‘It’s always great to be recognised for the work that you do but for the business, it has been an added selling point to a client because if they ask: ‘Why should we use you?’ we are now an award-winning company. Barring everything else that we do, we were recognised in first, second and third place in the Awards, which is a real feather in our cap.’

His advice to companies considering entering The GAPP 2024 is: ‘Definitely do it. Definitely go to the evening with as many people as you can within your business. On the signage side, we couldn’t showcase our entries because obviously they are installed at our clients, but you still get to see what everyone is doing. You also have the opportunity to network with people in the industry; I have friends in the print game and I saw them there that night. It was interesting to see the different types of print and examples of what’s out there, so I think it’s just a good night for the industry.’

He concluded, ‘Whether it’s one entry, two entries or ten entries, enter your best work and see where you stand amongst your competition. But it’s not only about the competition; it’s also a good night out. We’re looking forward to the evening again and I’ll probably bring along a few more staff this time.’

Entries are open for The GAPP Awards 2024: The Quest for the Guardians of Print. Hurry and go to www.thegapp.co.za to purchase your early bird entries. Time is running out!