By Courtney Bachar
Founded in 1996 in the heart of Richmond, B.C., Futech owner Jack Lo and a small committed team vowed the shop would not be just another graphics provider. Today, 26 years later, that vision is now a reality, with the shop providing dynamic retail and cost-effective solutions for business owners to build their brand. Sign Media Canada spoke with Lo about the company, recent projects, and Futech’s future.
Sign Media Canada (SMC): What makes your company unique?
Jack Lo (JL): Our team thought beyond just retail signage and graphics. We didn’t want to be just a sign shop—we wanted to serve a broader purpose in the community. Our vision was to create a full-range retail centre, from signage, sign hardware, retail store supplies, and marketing display products. Fast forward to present day, and we have done exactly what we set out to do, and have opened a secondary division named Beston Sign Supplies, which serves the trade resellers’ market. Futech remains our retail division and our office doubles as a showroom where customers can walk in and shop for retail-related products for their business. We also partnered with Staples Canada to have our products distributed across the country on their platform. We also own a production facility overseas, giving our customer service that extra boost. We have been lucky to have an abundance of resources to allow us to constantly develop and design new products for our North American clients, and in the process, become a leading manufacturer of metal display products.
SMC: How large is the facility?
JL: Between our local warehouse and overseas manufacturing, we have a total of roughly 3716 m² (40,000 sf) of office, workshop, and warehouse space. Our team is made up of a group of 80 individuals globally, which includes management, sales, design, and engineering staff.
SMC: What type of signage does your shop primarily install?
JL: We have installed a variety of signs for our customers over the years. One of our biggest projects was the Tsawwassen Mills Mall, which opened in 2016. We were one of the few local sign companies that had the opportunity to work on many units in the mall. We produce channel letter signs, lightboxes, non-lit 3D letters, illuminated signs, realty signs, pylon signs, awnings, plastic LED neon signs, and much more.
SMC: How much of the sign installation process is handled in-house?
JL: Our team does 100 per cent of the fabrication and installation in-house. In addition, Futech also offers UL/ITS electrical certifications, as well as sign permit services. The workshop has a wide range of equipment and great support staff to produce and ensure our quality control is up to our standards for end-users.
SMC: What does your planning process involve?
JL: We try our best to keep our planning process simple to ensure our customers understand the process from beginning to end. With signage in general, our production staff will do a site check and take measurements of the sign area. We take the information back and discuss the details with our customer and recommend what materials will suit the style of the sign. Our job is to educate the client and have them understand what they can expect. In some cases, if you miss some details, going back to address issues can be complicated. At Futech, sign installation is just one part of the job, the other is to obtain sign permit approvals from both city hall and commercial management (if this applies). Clients may have wild ideas for their business, so it is our job to make sure we keep it realistic and within proper guidelines. Once everything has been settled, we provide the quotes for acceptance to start the project.
Our process within the custom retail and marketing industries is very similar to our approach to signage, except we keep it much simpler. We take the client’s ideas, specifications, and number of units required to easily prepare a quote.
We offer after-sales support for our clients, as well. When clients bring back old products for questions and help, we do our best to provide them the assistance they need.