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Location: Home >  Industry news >  Meet Sign Builder Illustrated’s 2024 Top

Meet Sign Builder Illustrated’s 2024 Top

2024-04-11

Our 2024 Top Young Sign Makers nominee class featured nearly fifty impressive young sign professionals (younger than forty) with a wide array of skills and talents. We were extremely impressed with the field and appreciated the time and energy spent by all the nominators.

Choosing three medal winners and two honorable mentions was difficult, as we sorted through impressive projects from some of the nation’s top amusement parks, legendary music venues, classic eateries, and more.


Bronze medalist Matthew Cline’s stunning work at Garth Brooks’ new bar in Nashville.


Over the years, we’ve seen young signage professionals from every corner of the industry show us what they bring to the table, and the results continue to be more impressive by the year. We’re seeing more and more trained and certified signage professionals making an impact early on in their careers.

Whether it be someone embracing the family business or a young professional pursuing their passions of design with an entrepreneurial spirit, the signage industry seems to be gaining impressive young people.

Check out this year’s winners and their stories of perseverance and success. Our Gold Medal winner just happens to be someone deemed an honorable mention last year but took her projects to a new level in 2023, earning her top honors in this year’s competition.

GOLD MEDAL
Brittany Gacsy
Executive Director of Project Management at Sign Producers, Inc.
Age 37

Brittany Gacsy, 37, is Executive Director of Project Management at custom sign specialist Sign Producers, Inc. (SPI), a talented collection of sign designers, builders, and installers operating out of 25,000-square-foot manufacturing facility in Orlando, Florida.

They are proving to be highly sought after by big-time clients wanting to achieve showstopping visual results with their branding. Gacsy, who got her start with Disney’s Imagineers, prides herself on being able to lead her team on complex projects to achieve impressive results for very demanding customers.

Gacsy and her team at SPI have developed impressive relationships with the famous amusement parks in the Orlando area, and as a result, they’ve gotten to work with some highly sought after intellectual properties when it comes to creative signage.
For example, Universal Studios called upon Gacsy and her team to expand upon their parks’ Illumination Minions-themed presence.

The idea was to create an experiential graphic environment around the Universal Studios parks’ Minions-themed rollercoaster with restaurants and other brick-and-mortar stores.
Minion Cafe. “Illumination’s Minions took over an entire street at Universal Orlando in the summer of 2023,” says Gacsy. “Guests can now experience Minions mischief at an all-new Minions restaurant, Minion Cafe.”

Sign Producers, Inc., partnered with Universal Creative to bring the stunning concepts to life by infusing their practical design solutions and fabrication ingenuity into the creative vision for this building-mounted signage.

The Minion Cafe sign features the recognizable iconography of the Minions logo along with the clever gadgets developed by the creatures in their series of films.

“Universal provided creative renderings and building façade drawings, and we took the design from there,” explains Gacsy. “From structural design and engineering to 3D modeling and hand carving/painting, we were able to deliver a product that looked identical to the concept rendering.”

Another notable Minions-themed building façade sign designed and fabricated by Gacsy and her SPI team for Universal Orlando was for the Freeze Ray Pops ice cream shop. They were dedicated to nailing the concept, which is their calling card.

This particular sign was constructed out of aluminum and acrylic. They then added Faux Neon LED and programmed it to chase around the sign. The effect shows the Freeze Ray blasting an ice cube around an unsuspecting Minion.

“The internally illuminated sign shines brightly over the walk-up window where guest can ‘chill out’ with colorful popsicles or frosty cold beverages,” says Gacsy.

Toothsome Chocolate Emporium. The same mindset led to another installation from their impressive 2023 roster. Sign Producers, Inc., provided design and fabrication services for Universal Hollywood’s enchanting nineteenth century-themed, Steampunk-inspired dining establishment, The Toothsome Chocolate Emporium & Savory Feast Kitchen.

“Several signs were designed, constructed, and installed by us on this project—the most notable being the show-stopping main entry marquee,” says Gacsy. “Towering over the main entrance, this sign is equally as beautiful at day and at night. It has a chameleon green paint finish during the day and a chocolatey illumination at night.

“Also the gears behind the sign actually move! It’s a sign that has been proven again and again to be worthy of a selfie opportunity.”

SILVER MEDAL
ElijahJames Badoui Minaise
Senior Vice President at SignCraft Premier Identity Solutions
Age 22

ElijahJames Badoui Minaise, 22, is one of the most talented and well-trained young persons we have seen thus far in the Top Young Sign Makers competition, as he already boasts the experience of a seasoned
signage veteran.

Signs have always been the family business for Minaise, as he grew up at the family’s shop, SignCraft Premier Identity Solutions in Roseburg, Oregon, where he is currently the Senior Vice President.

“Servicing Douglas County and our hometown of Roseburg is our shop’s greatest privilege,” says Minaise “We were honored to be selected to participate in the new location of a local hallmark, a new Farmer’s Co-Op. It’s a big building where businesses come together. They have everything.

“I organized the shop and the crews to perform both fabrication and installation of cabinet signs and channel letters, and for the extremely custom work, we hand-carved the more intricate pieces.”

Another major project completed by Minaise and the SignCraft team involved restoring a legendary neon sign at a local bowling alley, TenDown Bowling. The task was to refurbish an existing non-illuminated panel sign and turn it into a “dazzling, eye-catching” statement piece.

“We spent countless hours mapping out, hand drawing, and then handcrafting this feature work of art that involved an aluminum panel sign with neon edge lighting and marquee channel letters,” says Minaise. “It was a little challenging because it had all the old neon on it, and they wanted a retro-style update [applied] to it—so we added some LEDs and some halo lighting up against the wall.

“It’s very rare to be able to get the opportunity to refurbish a classic old sign, but it’s rewarding to maintain that older style with a newer look.”

Impressively Minaise is also set to graduate this year with an Electrical Journeyman’s license after attaining both a welding certification and a crane operators license at just the youthful age of eighteen.

BRONZE MEDAL
Matthew Cline
Director of Design and Engineering at Joslin and Son Signs
Age 39

Matthew Cline, 39, has long been an artist and designer, and when he found his calling at the legendary Joslin and Son Signs in Nashville, Tennessee, his career began to flourish. Today Cline is Director of Design and Engineering at the sign company.

Cline has been called upon to handle some of the most highly visible signs in the country as the popularity of Nashville’s Broadway Street bars and events has drawn record crowds to the Tennessee city.

One of Cline’s more recent projects involved creating and installing the street-facing sign for Garth Brooks’ Friends in Low Places Bar & Honky Tonk on Broadway Street (featured above). “The sign is actually from the 1960s and is grandfathered into the local sign code for [its] size and shape,” he says.

Cline was asked to design a new sign yet using the old sign shape. “The challenge for this project was to give the customer a traditional neon sign but also give something that has dynamic color-changing capabilities,” explains Cline, noting he also used the client’s logo to create an illuminated infinity mirror feature (the “first of its kind” for his company as well as the city of Nashville).

The sign has two colors of neon that are “stacked” (clear red over white) giving one neon footprint but being able to change color.

“Adding the accents and other feature using RGB-programmable LEDs provided the dynamic functionally to change all of the sign’s colors via programming,” explains Cline. “The sign can be festive or illuminated to support the local sports teams or even the owner’s birthday colors all with the press of a button.”

Additionally Cline and the team at Joslin and Sons refurbished the sign at the Texas Troubadour Theater, a long-time entertainment complex in Nashville. The customer wanted to rebrand and update the building signage but was conscious about their budget.

“We decided to reuse the original wall sign. The challenge was to make the new design without any branding or logos,” says Cline, noting the customer didn’t know what they wanted but certainly knew what they didn’t like. “The basic layout was worked on over several revisions and meetings with the customer.

“The end result is a beautiful, updated sign that honors its original iteration and is full of real neon.”

HONORABLE MENTIONS

Phil Dotson
Regional Director of Operations
Poblocki Sign Company, Orlando
Age 39

“Phil has created a process and a culture in the youngest of Poblocki locations, Orlando. He has established a team where there are no niche players, and the culture has shifted to one of growth, empowerment, advancement, and family,” says Sara Laughter, marketing coordinator at Poblocki Sign Company. “Phil scrapped the previous shops’ processes and created a lean system that works for both the profit and for the people. What a change he has made, and we are all the better for it!”

Dotson and his team at Poblocki Sign in Orlando, Florida were extremely active during the past year as they were tasked with massive endeavors—including updating all the signage at Nashville Superspeedway. That meant taking down 1,400 signs and replacing them with 1,500 new signs in nine weeks, due to a time constraint from NASCAR. It was one of the craziest spurts of Dotson’s career in signage, and he spent the entire time in Nashville, sometimes putting in twelve-hour days to meet deadlines.

“It was on us to meet a quick turnaround and make it look as professional as possible in just under ten weeks,” says Dotson. “It all came together, and the client was happy. But it wasn’t without some hard, focused work.”

Casey Kilsheimer
Vice President of Operations
Art Display Co.
Age 36

Kilsheimer led her team to accomplish a plethora of extremely impressive recent installations—the most impressive, arguably, being the comprehensive signage and branding package for Estate, a luxury apartment building just mere steps away from Nationals Park in Washington D.C.

“Inspired by the French joie de vivre [“joy of living”], Estate has a one-of-a-kind main entrance sign with custom-fabricated, illuminated letters protruding from the façade of the building and finished off with an intricate curtain wall of aluminum,” says Kilsheimer. “The copper and bronze theme was continued throughout the building, parking identifiers, and a complete interior signage package.”

Kilsheimer also led her team on many other projects such as mixed-use centers in Virginia and art installations at a nationally famous harbor. “Our talented team of designers and fabricators meets any challenge we throw at them,” she says. “As a result, we had a great 2023 and are looking forward to the future.”


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