The word “sign” in the name of ID Signsystems Inc. is something of a misnomer, company founders Paul Dudley and Katrina Beatty said. They are more likely to refer to the firm as IDS.
“We’re not a sign company, per se,” said Dudley, who serves as president. He and CEO Katrina Beatty, a husband-and-wife team, run a design company. What they have designed since 2005 are visual systems that help people navigate and operate within a given environment; for example, hospitals.
“We specialize in the sign program that gets you there and gets you back again. And for health care providers, it’s really important because people lost and wandering around the hospital have a real cost in staff time,” Dudley said.
Dudley and Beatty said the company has grown 25 to 30 percent each of the last five years, though they declined to provide revenue numbers.
The company reached its most recent five-year goal in the first two-and-a-half years. Now they are retooling that plan.
“We have a considerable backlog going into the fall, and we’re projecting another healthy growth year. We’re expanding both our client base and our revenue base,” Dudley said.
That has been possible because of some significant investments in personnel and equipment.
The company has introduced a new director of “wayfinding” who focuses on the art and science of helping people find their way around a built environment, Dudley said. While this has always been a part of design work, it is getting more attention as a specialty, he noted.
A new head of digital manufacturing services and a massive new digital printer allow the company to print images on a wide variety of materials more efficiently, keeping IDS at the forefront of new digital developments in the field.
But the company is also pushing those limits itself, designing its own systems for solar-powered signs, investing in a company that is making solar-powered posts known as bollards, patenting a patient communication board widely used in hospitals and developing a proprietary LED product to use within its own lightboxes.
Despite the couple’s assertion that it is not a sign company, they have 38,000 square feet of manufacturing space to produce their own signs and other products.
“We have people out there who can do beautiful work; they’re craftsmen,” Beatty said, shaking her head emphatically when asked whether the company would ever outsource its sign production to China.
Over time, IDS has come to focus on roughly four sectors: hospitals and health care facilities, retail stores, corporate environments, and schools and universities.
Increasingly, the company is defining the Rochester skyline. IDS just landed a contract to create four large illuminated logos for Five Star Bank to be placed at the top of the former HSBC tower. Those signs, which will be visible from all over Rochester, join existing signs at sites such as the Strong Museum of Play, the University of Rochester and Rochester Regional Health.
The project for Five Star will require hiring two to three more people, the company leaders said, adding to steady growth in the number of employees, from 36 in 2014 to 49 this year.
The company’s work is featured all over the world, from Times Square to California, Chile, Singapore and Australia.
“The sign market is a world market now, and it’s influenced by new technologies and influences that are coming in from all over the world, so we think it’s really important to have that global view,” Dudley said.
While the demands of the company send both Dudley and Beatty abroad with some frequency, their home base in Rochester is important to them.
“We want to be part of the community organization. We try to hire locally, and we certainly train the people we hire if they don’t have the skills, so we’re very focused on being good community participants,” Dudley said.
The continual opportunity for learning and creative problem-solving, along with the opportunity to see their ideas made real, keep them passionate about their work, they said.
“When you realize something that you’ve conceived, there’s a real thrill in that,” Dudley said.
Perhaps especially when it lights up the skyline in your hometown.
The Rochester Chamber Top 100 program is presented by the Greater Rochester Chamber of Commerce and KPMG LLP. Launched in 1987, it recognizes the fastest-growing private companies in Greater Rochester. The 2016 Rochester Top 100 event will be held Nov. 3. For more information, go to greaterrochesterchamber.com.
ID Signsystems Inc.
Experiential graphic solution providers, sign designers and architectural sign manufacturers
Year founded: 2005
Top executives: Katrina Beatty, CEO, Paul Dudley, president
2015 ranking: 42
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