When a sign project is all but complete, and everything is on the line, we turn to someone who can not only install properly and safely, but also adjust to any manner of changes on-site, and interact with customers both pleased and concerned. Yes, quite a bit rides on the sign installer.
Edward Lehigh is a legacy in the sign industry. Following in his father’s footsteps, he began working in the industry at age 15. He started earning his way by washing trucks and scrapping old signs. Then he worked his way up to applying vinyl and assisting on job sites. At 18, he joined the sign-apprenticeship program in Portland, OR.
In 2010, Edward was hired as a Sign Installer at Security Signs (Portland, OR), where he would come to prove his worth at a shop with a legacy of its own. Since 1925, this family-owned company has designed, built and installed signs that have become landmarks of brand identity across Portland and beyond.
The job is more than installing signs, though. Aside from ensuring proper placement and customer approval, the job also necessitates other trade skills. Security Signs’ installers are required to undergo annual continuing education and must have a current commercial drivers license as well as welding and electrical certification. They must also be NCCCO-certified crane operators. Installers know there’s more than the company’s brand at stake if a sign is improperly installed; it can also become a dangerous liability. That’s why skilled sign installers like Edward are among Security Signs’ most valuable assets. Rain or shine, and no fear of heights – installers are a major reason why customers keep coming back.
“Growing up in the sign industry, I am very excited to see the standards of safety being raised to a high level,” Edward said. Much has changed when working at heights during his career. Several equipment options ensure jobs get done more safely and productively. Scissor lifts, articulating lifts and boom lifts provide many advantages over ladders, which can be extremely dangerous above certain heights. The single-belt harness is long gone, replaced by the full-body safety harness, now a mandatory requirement when working at heights or in hazardous situations. The improved fall-protection equipment gives installers a lot more confidence when working high up.
But heights are among many hazards in today’s sign-installation work. Educating employees and personal protective equipment now help prevent illness as well as injury. “We now have the knowledge and training to wear respirators when drilling into brick and concrete to minimize inhalation of silica dust,” Edward said. Our installers always have ear, eye, and hand protection readily available for any hazards they come across. We also provide install crews with newer trucks, top-of-the-line equipment, and high-visibility apparel.
Aside from his other responsibilities, Edward is also helping to train three apprentices. “There is a high level of professionalism that has come to the sign industry, which I am very excited to see,” he said. The apprenticeship is a four-year program that consists of on-the-job training, classroom instruction and certification requirements. Typically, apprentices start out like Edward did – as helping hands inside the manufacturing shop and on the jobsite. “I’ve been fortunate enough to have the opportunity to mentor apprentices,” he said. “I don’t train for speed; I want them to have continuous safety awareness and confidence.”
He also truly believes in customer satisfaction and is willing to go the extra mile to make the client happy. Since sign installers have consistent interaction with customers on job sites, this is a value he is pleased to pass on to those who follow in his footsteps. “I love the end results, seeing how happy the customers are when their signs are completed,” Edward said. “My favorite part, though, is taking completion photos. I love admiring the work of Security Signs.”
And so, thank you skilled sign installers everywhere. We love and admire your work, too!
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