By Courtney Bachar
In the 1960s, an electrical company in Southeastern Manitoba, Pankratz Electric, began receiving requests for signage. Vernon Pankratz, the owner, took an interest in this development, began filling the requests, and started a sign shop out of the back of his electrical company. Soon word got out, the requests increased and, in 1982, Signex Manufacturing was born. Not too long after that, Vernon’s son, Ken, took over and started to grow the business. Through Ken’s vision, dedication, and strong leadership, Signex has thrived. Today, as company president, he continues to be a driving force behind all that Signex does. As the shop celebrates its 40th anniversary, Sign Media Canada spoke with Ken about recent projects, their secret to longevity, and what’s next for the company.
Sign Media Canada (SMC): What makes your company unique?
Ken Pankratz (KP): There are several reasons why our company is unique. We are centrally located, so this allows us to collaborate with many other sign companies across Canada. We are also a custom shop, and you can find our signs in most major construction builds in Manitoba, including Investors Group Field, the Canadian Museum of Human Rights, and Outlet Collection shopping centre. In addition, we have a product line that is one-of-a-kind in the Prairies—trimless channel letters which is a unique offering for our clients. We also offer a consultation service for architects and general contractors to aid in the design, manufacturing, and sign installation process. Signex is actively involved in the Certificate of Recognition (COR) safety program, having been certified for well over 10 years, which means we have been recognized in Manitoba for having a safety program in place that is audited on a yearly basis. As well, we are a Canadian Standards Association (CSA)- certified sign shop.
SMC: How large is the facility?
KP: We are one of the largest sign companies in Manitoba, with a huge yard and indoor manufacturing, and storage area of over 2322 m² (25,000 sf). We currently have 20-plus employees.
SMC: What type of signage does your shop primarily install and what have you been working on lately?
KP: You name it, and we probably have installed or manufactured it! Wayfinding, monuments, concrete vinyl applications, interior wall graphics, and pylon signs immediately come to mind.
We have also done custom projects for clients such as a donor fence at Victoria General Hospital in Winnipeg, and a teepee at the Variety Charity Children’s Park at the Forks in Winnipeg.
Recently, we provided wayfinding and donor signage for the Diversity Gardens and the Assiniboine Zoom and we will be providing interior signs for both in the very near future.
SMC: How much of the design process is handled in-house?
KP: The short answer is we do it all! For example, we have a dedicated vinyl department where we create vinyl and digitally printed graphics that can be applied directly to sign faces, or onsite to walls and windows. We can also create brackets and fastening systems in-house that would normally have required us to outsource to other companies. In addition, we have our own fleet of bucket trucks, pick-ups, and trailers to haul signage back and forth to sites.