Industry Exposed | Geraldine Signs
With 2020 being a tough year for business, most realising how vulnerable they are when something like
Covid hits, it’s exciting to hear when businesses have adapted to the changes forced upon them, with successful
outcomes. We caught up with Sean from Geraldine Signs as we learnt that even through these tough times,
they have expanded!
Introduce yourself and your business.
My name is Sean Davidson from Geraldine Signs. I live in the thriving picturesque rural town
of Geraldine South Canterbury with my wife Geneva and my three young boys. This small town is not only
an ideal place for my wife and I to bring up our children, but is also a town that is growing, offering many
opportunities to do business and expand due to its central location.
Tell us how you got into the sign industry?
I actually was looking to be an accountant. I was 17 and my girlfriend’s (now my wife’s) father who
worked at a local sign shop in Timaru thought I’d be good at it and talked me into going in and
having a chat with his boss. I started the next day, loved it and never looked back, got an
apprenticeship a year later and was lucky to work with an awesome team of people with huge
talent across most sections of the industry so was a very lucky spur of the moment decision to
walk in there!
We have recently learnt that over lockdown, you made a decision to expand Geraldine Signs!? Tell
us a bit more about that.
I think lockdown has been a wake up call for many businesses, and has shown just how vulnerable
we all are. The traditional way of conducting business has changed and could change again. We
recognized we needed to diversify to protect our core business to not only survive but thrive.
I am incredibly lucky to have a team that have a diverse range of skills that are beyond their
current roles. My team are keen to grow our business and this has supported me in entertaining
the idea that Geraldine Signs could offer new products and deliver on a professional level.
The expansion is very inspiring, especially right now with the difficult year we have all faced. What
made you realise that there was an opportunity there?
Being an owner operator I have built strong connections with my clients. As we have provided our
clients with quality work in the past, they trust us. I saw a gap in the local market that we were
capable of filling and that was website design now branching into SEO, social media and
marketing. I could see that these elements can all be connected with one service provider and
why couldn’t that be us? We went ahead and created a new business from our existing one and
called it “Branded Kiwi”.
Due to Covid 19 we created another facet of our business – Safe Tradie. There was a new need for
safety signage and safety screens nationwide. This in an internet based business and sits nicely
alongside Geraldine Signs. Clients also have access to uniforms, corporate wear and branded
merchandise through our apparel portal on the website www.safetradie.co.nz
What motivates you?
Firstly growing my business and providing quality employment in our local district. Turning out
quality work for our client is also a buzz and the returning business from these clients makes me
think we are doing something right.
What is the best thing about your job?
Being able to create and work with clients and be part of growing their own brand. Seeing our
work standing proudly in the community is pretty special too.
No one can deny in our industry though the chance to play and embrace new tech and push some
boundaries has to be the prize part, one of our team is into 3d modelling neither of us now how
we are going to manufacture this stuff yet but will be fun trying as we have a few projects in the
pipeline that we are hoping to make for ourselves and some clients, can’t beat turning up to work
with stuff like that to keep us going!
If you weren’t a sign writer, what would you be?
I thought an accountant, I definitely can’t see that now.
What is the most clever or funniest use of advertising you’ve seen?
This is a job I thought I best not get involved in, looking at the outcome though I think it was the
best thing he could’ve done to open a brand new shop you couldn’t pay for the exposure he got
for a month or so. Local guy started a kebab shop and wanted his logo to be the Mcdonald’s
golden arches upside down as his logo all in red/yellow.
He found someone to make them, hadn’t even opened the store before he got the letter from
Mcdonalds ordering removal. The story went all over the world and NZ including the 6pm news we
are on the main tourist route to the lakes I am sure the outcome of that stunt was well worth it.
What is the best event you’ve attended?
The first sign expo after I went into business, trying to work out what gear to invest in is much
easier after getting to be hands on with it. Looking forward to these being held again.
Any final words of wisdom?
Take a chance! The ever increasing greys might be worth it.