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Sygnet Signs

Rob Fletcher speaks to Gary Iley, managing director of Sygnet Signs, about how he intends to use his immense knowledge of the industry to continue to push the company in the right direction

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(L to R) Wendy Savill, finance director, Gary Iley, managing director, and Darren Jones, business development manager

Staying true to its heritage

Still fresh in the minds of many football fans across the country, Leicester City’s incredible feat of winning the Premier League in 2015-16 is something that will live long in the memory of local people. However, away from the world of sport, the city is also home to a success story in the sign industry in the form of Sygnet Signs.

Founded 43 years ago, the company began life working across the entire field, with relatively limited manufacturing capabilities, but over the years has found its place in the market and is now widely regarded as a leading business in the trade manufacturing sector.

Managing director, Gary Iley, has strong emotional ties to the business, which was founded by his father Mick. Gary has since purchased the company and, after 21 years with Sygnet Signs, is keen to pick up where his father left off and push for further growth in the trade sector of the wider market.

“My initial experiences and memories of the company started during my summer holidays while at school, when I would go into work with my father,” Iley says, adding: “Back then the footprint of the company wasn’t as large as it is today and we didn’t have so many machines to our name; but I was aware of what we manufactured and how certain bits worked.

“My father was eager for me to gain a real ‘hands on’ understanding of what went into the making of our business. For the first two to three years, I plied my trade on the shop floor, working in all departments, understanding the machinery and tooling, how the production process flowed and how we resolved issues—what really went into manufacturing a quality sign.

“It was only then that I moved upstairs and started to deal with our clients, establishing how we best service their needs and how we utilise the skill sets we have, to continue to grow. It also enabled me to grasp a clearer understanding of how the industry was evolving, with a greater dependence on new technology.”

Focus on investment

Sygnet Signs is a business that does not rest on its laurels and Iley explains that the company constantly monitors market trends to identify areas where profit can be made. This approach led to the establishment of LED Solutions, a sister company that now supplies all of the firm’s LED products.

LED Solutions operates as a sister company of Sygnet Signs and supplies all of the firm’s LED products to customers 

Iley expands: “We work in the same building and they work closely with our LED manufacturer to ensure we supply what we consider to be the most reliable and cost effective LED products on the market. It’s another fantastic string to our bow, and has proved invaluable.”

(Above and below) Sygnet Signs has been in operation for 43 years after being founded by Mick Iley, the father of current managing director Gary Iley

“The growing influence of technology was something we had to embrace to stay at the top of the pile—along with broadening our services. We have never shied away from investing in the company—it’s something my father had always embraced and it’s something I continue to do. This is essential if you’re to keep up with the leading pack.”

The growing influence of technology was something we had to embrace to stay at the top of the pile

With this in mind, Iley goes on to map out the impressive arsenal of production technology that is in place at Sygnet Signs. The company currently operates a 2.5kW laser for metal, three acrylic lasers capable of cutting materials up to 20mm thick, two CNC routers, a digital printer, and laminator. In addition, Sygnet Signs runs manufacturing tooling kit such as a brake press, hydraulic folders, guillotines, and wall saws.

Although an ongoing commitment to investment has been a key part of success at Sygnet Signs, Iley says that it is the company’s focus on operating as a family business, with a key target of excellent customer service, that has helped it stand the test of time.

Iley says: “Our quality, honesty and plain hard work. It’s been those characteristics which have enabled us to form such a strong and loyal client base and which have created our reputation within the industry. It’s a reputation we’re extremely proud of and one that every employee understands is imperative to maintain.

“We were and remain a family business, with a real emphasis on customer service, quality and heritage. Although we’ve moved with the times and own plenty of advanced machinery, we know where we’ve come from and we treasure that heritage.

We were and remain a family business, with a real emphasis on customer service, quality and heritage

“We’ve been in the industry for so long now, there aren’t many things we haven’t seen. We’ve learned plenty of lessons, but we’re built on the same ethos today as we began with in 1974. Every client is as important as the next.

“We work for market leading corporations, we work for the one-man band. Regardless of who we’re working for, one thing remains the same —what leaves our works, leaves with our name on it. Maybe it’s that care which sets us apart.” 

While the Leicester City team of the 2015-16 season will go down in folklore in the city, Sygnet Signs will have its own place in Leicester’s history as one of the most successful sign companies to operate in the city.

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