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1990 - Plastic Board

The next big roadblock for our sign business was sourcing a low-cost material for making outdoor signs. Self-adhesive vinyl would not last long outdoors on wood or any porous surface while metals had to be prime coated and were too expensive for temporary signs. Initially we used foamed pvc sheets for outdoor signmaking but customers complained of warping and many breakages - especially from stone-throwing vandals.

By chance, while walking in the city centre one day I saw a safety sign outside a building made from corrugated white plastic. After some enquiries, I sourced a manufacturer of the plastic in Germany. While the Germans were not very enthusiastic about the size of my first order the material was a godsend for the growth of the business. It was lightweight, impact-resistant, recyclable and required no coating. Especially, it was ideal for outdoor use. Later, I was able to source the board from a company that started manufacturing it in northern Ireland.

Up to this time, practically all temporary outdoor signs were made from wood. At first, it was incredibly difficult to convince people to use the new plastic board. Eventually, after persuading a small number of customers to change over from painted wooden signs others followed when the advantages of the new material were visibly obvious. It was a no-brainer! Signs were brighter, lighter, safer and also much cheaper. Where customers had to wait days previously for signs we could now supply urgent orders within hours ! Our sale of temporary signs snowballed in following years. Thankfully the business was now blessed with two wonderful employees, Barry McCarthy and Pat McCarthy (not related), who worked with tireless enthusiasm to meet the sudden increase in demand.

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