Talking Shop with Ellis Bradshaw

Monday, December 13, 2010
Ellis Bradshaw is general manager of Canedy Sign and Graphics in Cape Girardeau. (Fred Lynch)

When General Sign closed in June, Ellis Bradshaw, general manager Canedy Sign & Graphics, saw an opportunity for his company to expand. Bradshaw started his career at General Sign and his company, based in Sikeston, Mo., purchased the former General Sign facility on Nash Road this fall as well as its St. Louis office. From billboards to animated LED signs to vehicle wraps, Canedy Sign helps businesses, churches and schools throughout the area share their message.

Question: Describe your experience in the sign business before joining Canedy Sign.

Answer: I spent 17 years with General Sign Co. I began in the letter department and after six months was promoted to night shift foreman. I then was promoted to custom manufacturing on the day shift. My next assignment was assisting in management of production for one and a half years. The remainder of my time with General Sign Co. was 14 years on the road in sales, service and installation.

I then went to Midwest Light and Sign in Farmington, Mo., for one and a half years. While I was there I also purchased my own truck for servicing maintenance contracts, signs and some installs. Then I was then approached by Canedy Sign. With Canedy I have served as general manager for six years helping the company to move in manufacturing and installations of national accounts. We have steadily grown through the years.

Q: What do you do now in your role as general manager?

A: I have spent 10 years with Canedy Sign, the last six years as general manager doing everything from management to purchasing to sales to invoicing to manufacturing to filling in anywhere there is a need basically.

Q: What went into the decision for Canedy Sign & Graphics to acquire the former General Sign facilities?

A: We were presented with what we felt was a golden opportunity to move Canedy Sign to the next level.

Q: How has your business changed/grown as a result of this expansion?

A: We have 14 new employees. The majority of the manufacturing has moved to the Cape Girardeau location. The Sikeston facility has been kept open as a complete graphics shop, sales and service to the Sikeston area. We have reopened the facility in St. Louis also offering sales, service and installation, which has tripled in the surrounding areas. We service national accounts and are expecting more soon. We have staffed our office to accommodate the needs of our national accounts as well as our local accounts. We have a much larger manufacturing facility which enables us to meet deadlines more promptly and also gives us room for more extensive and detailed oriented projects.

Q: How many employees do you now have at your new Cape Girardeau location?

A: A total of 29 employees including four former General Sign people.

Q: What is something most don't realize about signage?

A: The amount of time, money, craftsmanship, artistic ability and knowledge of computer graphics each project requires. How much time, money and effort it takes to stay on top production in an ever-changing/growing market. Dealing with government regulations, EPA standards, compliance with crane laws, permits, landlord approvals and disposal issues.

Q: What is the most unusual sign you've ever worked on?

A: A light-infused, fiber-optic bomb sign for Six Flags in St. Louis.

Q: What do you enjoy most about what you do?

A: The people we work with and for, seeing your finished product all over the area year after year. To be able to show your family and children what your company has proudly accomplished and knowing we are making a difference in our community, helping with much needed jobs and a great product for our customer.

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