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A father rises from the ashes

When a devastating event takes place, the toughest make it through the fire and survive. Unfortunately, this is the literal case for GT Display, which suffered a terrible fire in July that gutted its premises and destroyed all of its equipment, stores, and assets.

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Andy Taylor and his children, Lacey-May and Roman, opening the new GT Display premises in a small ribbon-cutting ceremony

Now, Andy Taylor, owner of the sign firm, has fought to continue trading and has moved to a new premises. The fire was first reported in Signlink at the end of July this year, and in those three months, Taylor has worked hundreds of hours rebuilding GT Display, moving into a new facility and fulfilling orders during a busy period. 

Taylor explains the firm had only been in its location before the fire eight months, and said the time was very emotional, not just for himself, but his family too. He also commented: “Photographs are still too painful, and the thought of the everything that was lost is almost too much to talk about.” 

The items lost included not only equipment, but also family treasures such as photos and sports memorabilia, as Taylor is a big rugby fan. 

(Above and below) The fire was started by thoughtless vandals and destroyed GT Displays

GT Display began life as a very small business, trading from home, before Taylor grew it into the busy firm it is today. “When the fire happened, it was as if all of the hard work was for nothing,” says Taylor, who explains this thought almost saw him give up for good.

On the night of the fire, and after several missed calls from his landlord, Taylor drove to his business without any idea of what he was about to witness. He comments: “The first thing I saw was the decimated equipment. I couldn’t believe what I was seeing. It’s still quite emotive now.” 

Family values

That night is now firmly carved onto Taylor’s memory, who admitted that despite initial thoughts of giving up, he found his resolve and a determination not to let his sign-making business end there. The fire happened on Friday night and blazed into early Saturday morning, undaunted Taylor was trading and fulfilling orders from a barn on the following Monday. 

He was determined not to let his loyal customers down, and he comments that his customer base was very understanding of what had happened. Taylor explains that his machinery was designed by himself, and that rebuilding it was one of the greatest challenges of his life. So, together with a couple of family and friends, he was able to start again on Monday. He comments: “We’ve got more machinery than we had before now, because we just kept building and building.”

She used to come down and visit us all the time, and she kept asking and asking to come. And then one night, I was just exhausted, and I said, ‘darling it’s gone’. I shouldn’t have said it, I ended up saying, ‘look its burned down’, and she was really upset.

After working night and day to get the orders on track, GT Display found a new home. Taylor explains he could not settle until safety features were installed on the business. Not only was the event taking a mental toll on Taylor, but his young daughter was starting to notice that something was wrong. 

Taylor explains: “She used to come down and visit us all the time, and she kept asking and asking to come. And then one night, I was just exhausted, and I said, ‘darling it’s gone’. I shouldn’t have said it, I ended up saying, ‘look its burned down’, and she was really upset. 

“I had to say to her, when we get ourselves established back on our feet, and I’d like you to come and open it, get a ribbon cut and everything. We can do it together.”

A bright future 

His young children are one of the many reasons that Taylor has not given up on GT Display. He explained that, at his lowest during the rebuild, he did think about giving it all up because it just seemed too much. But because he wanted to give his children a future, he picked himself up and kept on trooping.

Taylor explains he learned all of his knowledge on the shop floor of a sign-making business, before his two-year-old son was born. His key motivation for starting up GT Display was his view that there was a culture of under-appreciation at the firm in which he worked, and so he decided to start out on his own: “I thought ‘I can do this’. There’s room for a high-volume, low-cost trade supplier. There was nobody out there doing it, so I thought, let’s do it. I can actually do this for my kids.” 

The rebuilding of the business after the fire has been tough, but GT Display are as busy as ever thanks to a loyal customer base and a move to a new location

Together with his business partner, Taylor set up GT Display in light of this focus. And despite the destructive set -back of the fire three months ago, Taylor continues to work hard to provide that future.

To say that the fire has not affected Taylor and his family long-term would be wrong, but his pure determination to keep going gives the impression that nothing has happened. Indeed, unless you knew the back story you would just assume he had decided to move the business to a new facility.

Taylor concludes: “I think what it (the fire) has done, is made me think there is a lot more I could be doing with the business. There are new projects and new products.”

Keep your eye out for GT Display, because the firm is coming back bigger than ever, thanks to hard work and pure determination of a father with a dream to build a better life for his young family. 

If you have an interesting story or a view on this news, then please e-mail news@signlink.co.uk

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