Of course there are other sign franchise systems with traditional models and no ties to the print franchise world. Signs By Tomorrow, which was founded by Joe McGuinness in 1986, has 170 locations in the US according to Entrepreneur. Located in Columbia, MD, it is a privately held company and McGuiness serves as chairman of the board with Ramon L. Palmer as president.
Sign Biz was established in 1989 and is a network of some 200 independently owned digital sign “partnerships” that operate without a royalty structure, although there are startup fees. The company bills itself as “the largest non-franchise chain of sign companies in the world.” Operating out of its headquarters in Dana Point, CA, Sign Biz specializes in digital print and branding and identity products. CEO and president Teresa Young was a former sign shop owner and trainer before taking over the company.
Signworld was founded in 1988 by Ken Kindt, a former financial planner. It bills itself as a “licensing opportunity” and claims 239 licensees. With headquarters in Kona, HI, Signworld touts itself as having no royalties and no rules. According to Signworld: “A business opportunity charges an upfront fee that is comparable to an up-front franchise fee.” There are no ongoing fees charged, the company says.
ASI Sign Systems was founded in 1977 and has some 40 franchisees in the US. Each franchisee operated in a “SignCenter” that provides a visual backdrop and a hands-on opportunity for customers to examine the various product offerings manufactured by ASI. The company had its roots in architectural signage and now offers interior, exterior, and digital custom and modular signage.
Another fairly novel concept is Magnetsigns, which has 97 Canadian and 14 US franchisees. Founded in 1996 by Magnetsigns Advertising, the franchise was the offshoot of an idea by two inventors who “saw an opportunity to cut letters, symbols, and graphics from sheets of magnetic material and fluorescent vinyl and attach the shapes to a metal sign to provide changeable outdoor advertising.” Magnetsigns sells the signs and graphic materials to the franchisee who uses computerized equipment to produce the graphics and letters for signs that are then rented to local customers on a weekly or monthly basis.
Of course, there are several other sign-related franchise systems in North America ranging from six to two or three dozen franchisees. Unlike the franchise printing market where the number of franchise systems has shrunk from 23 to six in the past 20 years, the sign franchise segment has yet to that sort of thorough consolidation. If the past history of print franchising is any indication, such consolidation will eventually come to pass in the sign franchise industry as well.