by carly_mchugh | 21 July 2022 11:12 am
By Courtney Bachar
Robert Blyth, owner of Stàlaich Installs Inc., says he always wanted to step out on his own. It was the COVID-19 pandemic that cemented his decision.
“It was the natural next step in my career, and I’m so glad I took it as it is one of the most fulfilling decisions I have ever made,” says Blyth. “Being an anglophone in Quebec has also helped me bridge connections between this province and the rest of Canada. Customers, friends, and acquaintances from across Canada and the U.S. are now seeking us out to help them with their installations.”
The name, Stàlaich, comes from its Scottish origins—the Gaelic word for install being, “Stàlaich” (pronounced Stay-Lic). “I wanted a name that had strength, meaning, staying power, and requires one to slow down to figure out how to pronounce it,” Blyth explains. Scottish inventor James Watt, which led Blyth to study mechanical engineering in his youth, as well as his father, were also of great influence for him. “[My father] would constantly say to me, “If you are going to do something, no matter what it is, do it right,” which led to our tag line, ‘Done right, always.’ Dad would be proud.”
Sign Media Canada (SMC): What makes your company unique?
Robert Blyth (RB): Our technical abilities and problem solving. We look beyond the wall to what is behind it and ensure what we are doing will hold up and last. As a young man working in the drafting department of an engineering firm, I once overheard someone say, “Don’t tell me the problem, just tell me how you are going to fix it.” That attitude has stayed with me ever since. It is the value proposition we bring to our customers. We aim to be the solution providers, not the problem creators.
We have been referred to as the “White Glove Crew” because of our unique uniforms, wearing white work shirts or polo shirts. We want our customers to feel they are getting extra special treatment. Often, the location is cleaner after the install than when we first arrived, as it should.
SMC: How large is the facility? (Square footage, number of employees, etc.)
RB: As with all new shops, we are starting out small. We are, however, doing our best to be profitable and control all costs. So far, so good. We do not have a product to sell, as much as we have a service to offer. In many ways, it is a blessing in its own way as I have always been selling or consulting in the digital signage world. We are focusing on our capacity to install interior signage now as that is the future of digital displays.
SMC: What type of signage does your shop primarily install?
RB: We are doing the typical install of lettering on walls, mostly three-dimensional, but we are very much into digital installations as well. Digital signage in windows, close view digital video displays, and menu boards are making up most of the jobs we have had so far.
SMC: What type of projects have you been working on recently?
RB: Our installation projects vary from channel letters, wayfinding signs, commercial branding signs, and digital displays, as well as high-value artwork. We have also been involved with providing supervision and guidance services for large digital video display installations, including initial start up and testing.
SMC: How much of the sign installation process is handled in-house?
RB: As mentioned, 100 per cent of our work is done in-house; we pride ourselves on cleanliness. We try to oversee the entire project for our customers. We will, on occasion, rent or subcontract very specialized labour, or equipment for larger projects.
SMC: What tools/equipment do you currently use to complete your projects?
RB: Over the past year, we have helped keep the economy of this province going as we buy every tool whenever we need it. Our motto is, “If you use it at least twice, it is paid for,” and we will continue to grow with that attitude, as we wish to be the best and most well-equipped team in Quebec. Most of our tooling and equipment is installation focused right now as we are not a sign shop per say. However, next to the simple tape measurer our green laser level is probably the most used tool that we have. Lose it and we are out buying another one asap.
SMC: What does your planning process involve?
RB: When reviewing a project for installation, we write a plan, have others review it, get their input, and then work the plan. Essentially, if we can get involved in a project during the survey/design process, we feel better suited to prepare an install plan by looking at all the elements required well in advance. Then, when it comes to quoting on the job, we go through every step needed to make the installation go as smoothly as possible. We write it all down, figure out the costs, and send to the customer. We don’t just hand them a number; we submit our process showing the value, proving we thought about what their expectations are, and how we are going to meet and exceed them.
SMC: How is technology changing your business?
RB: Every day is a new technical challenge. Not just in installation, but as a startup, we face operational challenges such as setting up our emails, establishing our presence on social media, developing and installing customer relationship management (CRM) software, to name a few.
SMC: What is the key to staying successful in this industry?
RB: Staying on top of changes, especially within the digital realm, understanding technology and using it to one’s advantage, and for us, making sure our customers get an outstanding experience.
SMC: What is the future for your business?
RB: I was inspired by many of the interviews I did in 2020 with the YouTube series Channel Letters and Coffee. Lee Murphy of Access Signs and myself spent some quality time with many industry people, young and old, and from that I gained a better understanding of what I wanted to do with the rest of my life. I wanted to inspire others, create, build, and be part of something greater than myself, instead of just peddling digital hardware as I did for the past 20 years. I interviewed people such as Sam Markle, who created the iconic Sam the Record Man sign, which still sits in perpetuity over the skyline of Toronto. I wanted to be a part of that, In fact, as fate would have it, I got to use all my abilities, consulting on a project which is a landmark site—the flagship store of designer Alexander Wang, in New York City. It features a US $1 million video display that is 3.7 m (12 ft) high and over 36.6 m (120 ft) long, and made of very fine pitch light-emitting diodes (LED). We designed, built, and installed it, all the while dealing with six different nations and countless people. A feat I will never forget and wish to repeat.
Source URL: https://www.signmedia.ca/stalaich-takes-white-glove-approach-sign-installation/
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