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Jobs: The signs of the times for Steve.

STEVE Farley has seen sign-making change with the times.

The 44-year-old sign-maker said the art of producing notices for shops, car parks and offices has changed dramatically during his 27 years in the job.

He said: "It has changed an awful lot over the last few years. Everything used to be done by hand but a lot of it is done on computers now.

"The signs are designed on them and the rotor blades which cut the signs are pre-programmed. Nowadays the business is more about assembly of the different parts.

"The design of signs has also changed. People are expecting more interesting and bright ones, which attract attention. The old boring signs which just say the name of the company or shop are dying out."

Steve has been a sign-maker since leaving school at the age of 17.

Now he works at R & D Signs Ltd, based in Aston, Birmingham, where he has produced signs which have appeared on National Car Parks sites and East Midlands Airport.

His signs are made from metal or perspex panels and letters cut from perspex.

The letters and panels are shaped using a mechanised rotor blade and glued with chloroform gel.

Neon or electrical lighting is added if the customers wants it and then the sign is taken out on site to be fitted.

And Steve, from Darlaston in the Black Country, makes signs in all shapes and sizes, not just the conventional rectangles which appear on the front of shops. He has helped make 100ft-long garage canopy signs and monoliths which show the way around car parks.

Steve said: "The thing I like about my job is the variety. You go out on site and fit the signs, which is nice as then you get to see the finished effect."

Recently he has been to London and Scotland fitting and maintaining signs.

Nearer to home, Steve has also helped maintain the huge neon signs at the headquarters of the Cheltenham & Gloucester building society in Cheltenham.

"We went up about 60ft in a lift with bucket and checked the electrics and neon in the big C & G signs on the side of the building.

"I really like the bright signs, which use intense neon and really stand out. When we have made one of those it looks absolutely brilliant."
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Author:Revill, John
Publication:Sunday Mercury (Birmingham, England)
Date:Apr 11, 1999
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