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Hall signs.

It's been a long time since Wayne F. Hall hustled across Southern Indiana, Kentucky and Tennessee peddling quality road signs and posts and sturdy support brackets of his own Wayne Hall Sign and Post Co.

Throughout the 1950s, Hall operated his business out of a two-car garage in downtown Bloomington, growing slowly but surely by expanding his product mix.

In the 1960s, the company moved to Bloomington's west side, building a large warehouse and increasingly turning its efforts toward sign manufacturing, purchasing aluminum coil from major aluminum producers and transforming it into chemically treated cut shapes for the burgeoning highway market.

By the mid-1970s, the company instituted new silkscreen and print operations, further establishing its reputation as a full-service, fabricated sign product manufacturer. Today, Hall Signs Inc. sells signs and related equipment--roughly $15 million total in annual sales--in every state in the nation and to an international distribution network.

With about 100 workers at its sprawling plant off Indiana 37 west of Bloomington, Hall Signs believes it's ready for recognition as the industry's leader in the manufacturing of aluminum signs. Already it's the world's largest manufacturer of cast aluminum sign brackets, and it holds nine patents as well as the rights to all of its dies. The company mass produces these sign supports, something few of its competitors can do.

"We're shooting for the reputation as the industry's No. 1 leader in quality aluminum signage," says Scott Chapman, sales manager for Hall Signs.

Hall Signs churns out custom signs destined for spots along America's roadways, as well as for major international companies in need of quality signage. The company has moved beyond supplying signs only to state and local governments. Its expanding customer base includes Fortune 500 companies, large utility firms and the nation's largest shopping malls.

"We're targeting the non-governmental sector of the signage market," says Larry Hall, who became CEO after his father died in 1990. "We're going after a market segment that is a little bit less competitive and looks for high-quality, high-service results from a company like ours."

At one time the government market made up 80 to 90 percent of his business, but now it is only 50 percent of sales. The company sells more signs to utility companies and other private industries. Clients include McDonald's, Hardees, Wal-Mart, Ameritech and Southwestern Bell.

In the past, Hall Signs has been able to simply answer the phone and take an order, but the firm is now becoming more active in sales. "Through the use of our telemarketing department, which is quite young, we are aggressively pursuing the markets," Hall says.

Hall Signs recently created new catalog inserts featuring utility signs and their brackets. There are plans to create another insert featuring traffic and commercial signage. Target marketing should increase his company's sales, but employee expansion is not in the immediate future. Instead, the company is working on improving worker efficiency and productivity.

"We think we can do a better job with improved management methods and improved equipment," Hall says.

The company is implementing a total quality management style of operation. This is the same management style popularized by successful Japanese companies. "A lot of American companies are getting into TQM with fantastic results," Chapman says.

TQM encourages management and other employees to create goals and work together to achieve them. The project has been in effect only for the past year, but already the company has created a new operating philosophy that calls for open lines of communication with management. "Everyone must be responsible for good communication," the new policy states in part. "If employees are not getting information, they should communicate that to management."

Part of this means creating committees with employee members, involving management in employee training and listening to employee solutions to problems, says Bill Honeycutt, the plant manager. "No one is overlooked, from the president down to the janitor."

The new operating philosophy also stresses quality and service. "People tend to think that a stop sign is a stop sign," Chapman says. "But that's really not true. There's a lot that goes into how well you make the silkscreens, how well you lay everything out, how well you apply the reflective material to the aluminum, even how well you cut the aluminum."
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No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1992 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

Article Details
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Title Annotation:Wayne Hall Sign and Post Co.
Author:Werth, Brian
Publication:Indiana Business Magazine
Article Type:Company Profile
Date:Nov 1, 1992
Words:709
Previous Article:South Central Indiana update.
Next Article:Going up?
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