Wednesday, January 15, 2014

A rocky 2013 has ended and we hope for a better 2014


Some years are better than others for business and health but unfortunately, just like a wine or cheese, you'll never know ahead of time which way it will go.

To provide a little recap on what 2013 has been for us here, I will have to start with myself and rupturing my left Achilles at the beginning of February. You'll be asking "How did you do that ?". Well, for the ones that read this and had it happen to them, it can come from several causes like sports injuries, yoga, a bad falls or even jumping from too high of a flight of steps to pick up a ringing phone !...Now you got it....

It was definitely a strange sensation. After I picked myself up from the shop floor, I could feel my left foot could not move upward anymore and I had to walk "flat footed" to avoid any kind of flexing movement from it. Surprised that I did not feel any pain, still I knew something was wrong and decided to go back to the foot doctor that treated the year before my tendinitis. When he saw me, he said "okay, what have you done now !". I explained the whole thing (a little embarrassed needless to say). I laid on the exam table, he touched the back of my foot and shocked his head.... Never and encouraging sign when a doctor does that.....

"Well, it looks like you did it this time, your tendon is ruptured"

Thank goodness I was laying on the table. He continued by saying "you can't stay like this, the tendon will not re-weld itself, it will require surgery to fix it" SURGERY !!!
As one that never had to go to an hospital for anything, I have to say that I was in a panic mode when he added "you will be with crutches for about 3 months after the surgery and might need therapy..." My throat was getting tighter and tighter at the every words he was adding in this nightmarish situation.

"What am I  going to do with my sign shop ?... I have to be on my feet at least 10 hours a day working there"

Doctor did not have to say anything, I knew it was either getting that foot fixed up or be handicapped for the rest of my life. I chose the wise path and we scheduled the surgery one week after the visit....

To be continued .....

Back to Belmeade Signs website

Sunday, December 1, 2013


We watched a parade that was going through the small town main street. The crowd was gathered along admiring a few floats and antique cars. That was no multimillion dollar display but everything was done and prepared with taste and scale to the mean of the town. The parade was winding down , my friends and I started to get thirsty for more of that great white wine. There was no easy way to reach the wine fountains since the crowd was still packed along side the streets. We decided to follow the tail end of the parade and get off to the nearest dispensing stand.
We were painstakingly walking through the crowd and suddenly I felt something tapping on my shoulder. Thinking I stepped on somebody's foot or aggravated a grouchy spectator, I turned around slowly when to my surprise ......... To be continued.......

Today at the shop:

Well, it's way too long since I've posted anything here so here is a little continuation of the crazy busy years at the shop.

As time passes by, I'm growing into someone that wants to explore and express my creativity in more than signage. As a former electrical engineer, I've always had a fascination for lighting. I still remember as a teenager playing with old car's electrical circuit consoles and rewiring them to get the different lights on them to shine. I graduated later in using power from an electrical socket (which is 220V in France) and getting countless shocks from my crazy experiments. Thinking back, I guess I'm lucky to still be alive today to write about it, 220V does give you a good little jolt !
I've always loved mixing materials like wood and metal and also re-purposing. The first attempt  was to create something unique that fits the idea of creativity, salvaging and antiques.....Steampunk !
Below is my first piece that is also for sale on Etsy.com
(https://www.etsy.com/shop/BelmeadeSigns?ref=search_shop_redirect)

A Steampunk lamp made from re-purposed materials

What do you think ?

In the next post, I will reveal some other prototypes I've been working on and will describe.

Until then, so long.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

It was a beautiful young woman that was surrounded by a few friends. She asked me (in English) something I could not really understand since my primary foreign language was German. She persisted and pointed at my sweatshirt and said in a very broken French "Ou as tu trouve ce sweatshirt? (where did you get this sweatshirt?). Ah ! I got it now.... I answered that I bought on clearance at a small clothing store in the town where I lived. What was interesting about the sweatshirt was that a work colleague told me about the sale at the store, so I went and found it cool because of a logo with some English words I did not understand. Later on, I learned it was a cheap reproduction of the Penn State Nittany Lion logo and the person that tapped on my shoulder was a foreign exchange student from the main campus ! To be continued..........

Today at the shop:

Well quite a few things have happened since my last posting (I know I've been slacking a little). The first one is that the storing rack for sheet material is complete and loaded, and boy does it make a difference. Now the heavy PVC or MDO panels glide at the push of a finger ! What ...yes, We equipped the bottom of the racks with inexpensive roller skate wheel (12 for $10, not bad) The whole rack structure is made with 2x4 and can hold 5 sheets which is more than enough. We do not want to hold to much inventory especially when our main supplier delivers 24 hours after our order is placed.
This little project took the equivalent of about a week to complete from beginning to end but was well worth it (I'll post a few pics shortly).
Another thing that was accomplished was the fabrication of a mobile work table to process larger custom signs. The shop is small and when we work on larger projects, it gets very difficult to maneuver long pieces of materials. The new table is 7ft long and 4 ft wide and all made out of 8020 aluminum extrusion (what an amazing product to work with....check their website !) and has casters on each leg. we can freely move the table wherever there is space (even go outside) and free up space for the next project without lifting anything.
What is also very cool about 8020 is that the extrusion allows infinite possibilities in connecting and expending existing assemblies (pics to come).

Sunday, January 17, 2010

We watched a parade that was going through the small town main street. The crowd was gathered along admiring a few floats and antique cars. That was no multimillion dollar display but everything was done with taste and scale to the means of the town. The parade was winding down , my friends and I started to get thirsty for more of that great white wine. There was no easy way to reach the wine fountains since the crowd was still packed along side the streets. We decided to follow the tail end of the parade and get off to the nearest dispensing stand.
We were painstakingly walking through the crowd and suddenly I felt something tapping on my shoulder. Thinking I stepped on somebody's foot or aggravated a grouchy spectator, I turned around slowly when to my surprise ......... To be continued.......

Today at the shop:

As a way to redesign our space, we decided to create a new partition wall on the production floor. This wall will support a vertical rack that will hold all our sheet materials (wood panels, MDO, HDU, PVC, etc...) and keep them off the floor. This will greatly help when the delivery trucks come to bring our orders by being able to back-up directly in front of the bay and unload right into the racks. No more heavy lifting for long distances.
Also part of this wall will be a small closet that will host the central dust collector and some storage space. This confinement will make things look tidier and also muffle the noise generated by the collector.

Here is what it looks like now, I know, very messy but improvement in under way and really can not wait until the rack is in place.
You can also see on the upper right corner the wall saw we use to cut to size our blanks. Once all materials will get stored properly, the wall saw will be relocated right next to them so we can easily load the sheets in without having to move them for long distances (relatively speaking).
So....when are we starting all that good stuff ?
Well it is already started. One of our neighbors is a framer , he came yesterday to look at the project and gave us an estimate.
- "So Gary when can you start the partition ?"
- "I won't be able to get the job started before 3 weeks, I still have a project to wrap up".
I though to myself, I could do that wall but it would not be using my time wisely so I agreed to that time line.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

As a single guy, a bunch of friends and I decided to take the trip and go taste some free white wine that was offered at the harvest celebration ( in Barr).
After what seemed an eternity riding in that teeth shaking bus, we made it to our destination only (5 hours ! not good...). The village was ready for partying. Colorful banners, display stands, music, smell of good food cooking all over and above all a beautiful medieval town that made it through 4 or 5 hundred years of history.
We all beamed out of the bus ready to go have a good time. And we did, the wine sampling was free, a lot of pretty girls around, great food.It was all there. ...........To be continued...........

Today at the shop:

We never expected when we first started the sign shop that people would buy signs for Christmas but they did and truly caught us by surprise. Now we are more prepared than 3 years ago but still after the rush and madness of that crazy holiday time, the shop is really in total chaos. So today I'm starting a clean up session along with a brainstorming on laying out the office/studio space on the shop's second floor....Where all important high level corporate decisions are made :-).
The issue we have is that we have plenty of space in the studio but not enough on the production floor. The challenge is to re-balance the use and purpose of each section to make maximum use of the space.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Our first blog posting about custom signs


Well, seeing many of you blog on the web has convinced me to give it try and share some of the successes and defeats in the trade of custom sign making. I intend to provide you with useful information, day in day out activities at the shop along with some nice pictures of what we have seen and done.
Our company is called Belmeade Signs and has been in operation for several years. It is located in New England in a very small town (barely marked on a map !) called West Granby.
My name is Jean-Luc and as some of you might guess, I'm french. I was born in a city called St Dizier which is located about half way between Paris and Nancy. I was then working as an electronics technician tuning high tech transceivers when one day the company offered to us a trip to a small town in Alsace called Barr........