HOW ONE ISLAND BUSINESS FINDS THREE-DIMENSIONAL PROFITS FROM THREE-DIMENSIONAL BRANDING
Ryan Brehm began his business career earlier than most. As a teenager working for the Senior Tennis Circuit featuring greats such as John McEnroe and Jimmy Connors, he learned firsthand what it takes to produce and maintain a major sporting event. Brehm quickly found his niche in the tour operations department, bouncing from city to city setting up and maintaining event sites as needed. In January of 1998 at the age of 16, he was promoted out of the field and into the home office outside of Philadelphia to run the signage and graphics department. After two years, he left the event business to attend Wagner College in Staten Island, where he obtained a bachelor of science degree in business management and marketing. While there, he served as president of the Theta Chi fraternity for two years, and set in motion the school’s first recycling program. In addition to college, he maintained a full-time job at a local sign shop, gaining more knowledge and experience in the field. In January of 2004 (his senior year), Brehm got permission to utilize empty fraternity dorm rooms to convert them into computer centers for those students without computer access. It was here that his business, The Sign Guy, was formed. The growth of that business was slow, but after a rebranding and relocation in early 2008, it has maintained a recognizable presence all over the city.
“The Sign Guy prides itself on innovation, experience, and results,” said Brehm. “We provide sign, graphics services, marketing/ advertising opportunities, business branding, full-color printing, graphic installations event management, and production, and we are the leading provider of vehicle wraps on Staten Island.” The company’s work can be seen throughout the city, including the Metropolitan Museum of Art, numerous TV studios (such as the 2008 CNN election studio at Rockefeller Center) and many other retail stores and establishments.
“I’d had just a simple ‘The Sign Guy’ written on the back of my company shirts so people wouldn’t give us a hard time when we going in and out of buildings for an installation job,” Brehm explained. “But we eventually found that the simple clarifier was also a great company name. When we rebranded and moved to an office space in Dongan Hills, the company— and that name—really started to take off.”
Crediting his vehicle wraps as one of his most successful innovations, even from the start, Brehm said potential clients would see his boldly-logo’d trucks and cars and stop the drivers to ask where they could get the same treatment.
“It’s a moving advertisement,” Brehm said. “And it’s simply one of the best things you can do for your business. We’re also the only company located within the five boroughs that is a certified 3M graphics installer. Fifty percent of our business is our own in-house design, production and installation and the other half is installing graphics and wraps for other printers.”
Brehm also does work for a range of companies including Estee Lauder, Chanel and NBC. “I wrap a lot of elevator banks promoting new shows and products,” he added. “When President Obama was elected, we wrapped the entire CNN studio for their election coverage.” Along with Macy’s in Herald Square and Yankee Stadium in the Bronx, Brehm brands bars, restaurants and an array of businesses all over the city, many right here in Staten Island.
“I just did a lot of work with Nate Pharmacy, Broadway Mike’s Steakhouse, and Dugout South,” he said. “We’re still most well known for our vehicles, but we’ve completed and installed a lot of signage throughout the borough and the city that is very recognizable. Everyone has seen my stuff, they just don’t realize it.”
Brehm is currently focused on a number of interior wall wrap projects, a digitally-printed service that he’s dubbed the “next big thing” in interior design.
“We’re trying to push the residential design side of the business,” he explained, detailing how he’d wrapped all the walls in his own apartment. “It’s a very cool look…a sort of digital wallpaper that has no limits. We can cover almost any indoor or outdoor surface with graphics. It’s amazingly versatile.” And that’s just part of where Brehm hopes to take his operation in the future.
“The branding has taken off and working with all of these companies and businesses is such an amazing experience,” he concluded. “The launch of interior design is just the start of how we’ll grow our business. Everyone needs great marketing.”
The Sign Guy 35 Hancock Street Staten Island, NY 10306 718.667.3492