Since Paul and Nita Ingle bought Design Center Signs six years ago, they have rebranded their company to rebrand other businesses.
“We’re not here to sell you a sign or a graphic,” Ingle said. “We’re here to help you grow your business through branding capabilities.”
Design Center Signs is celebrating its 25th anniversary and has undergone many changes under the Ingles.
They added an Internet business, offering website design and hosting.
They also do imprinted promotional products and decorated corporate apparel, such as shirts, hats and bags; business printing, such as business cards and brochures; billboards; vehicle wraps and electronic message boards. Their services also include interior and exterior signs for schools, neon and LED sign service and repair and installation work for national sign companies for local franchises.
“Everything a company has its name on we handle,” Ingle said, adding that clients can come to one vendor for everything.
In 1997, John and Nancy Johnson bought the business. In 2006, the Ingles bought it and about a year ago and consolidated its three locations into a 16,000-square-foot building. Ingle said they chose the spot on Grande Boulevard because it is a growing corridor of Tyler and they liked the design of the five-year-old building, which formerly housed Garland Insulating.
Since buying the business, the Ingles have grown it from 13 employees to 21.
Mrs. Ingle, 50, is president and specializes in operations and handles the human resources, financial and retail side of the business. Ingle, 55, is vice president and specializes in sales, sales management and manufacturing and oversees the commercial and marketing side of the business.
Mrs. Ingle said she works inside the company 95 percent of the time, while her husband is working in the field with customers. “It’s a nice balance,” she said.
Ingle grew up in Irving and Mrs. Ingle was raised in Dallas. While working for an international architectural sign company in Dallas, Mrs. Ingle met her husband when she interviewed and hired him for a job. Ingle has been in the sign business for 29 years and Mrs. Ingle has worked in the industry for 16 years.
Ingle came to Tyler in 1993 and worked in sales for Zimmerman Sign Co. After living here six years, he moved to Arkansas before moving back to Dallas to work for another company that ended up merging with Zimmerman, he said.
The Ingles have been together for 10 years and married for seven. They were living in Dallas and looking for a lake house in East Texas when they fell in love with the idea of living here. While commuting to Dallas from Tyler, they found Design Center Signs was for sale and bought it on their first anniversary.
“It’s been a challenging time to grow a business in a recessionary slow economy,” Ingle said, adding that they are blessed with a great team, customers and vendors.
In 2011, Design Center Signs had the third-largest sale volume in the business’ 25-year history, while it saw the second largest in 2012. Ingle said if they hit their projections this year, it will have the highest — all during tough economic times.
Mrs. Ingle said their approach is partnering with customers to learn their expectations and individual tastes.
Some of their customers include Brookshire’s, Southside Bank, Whataburger, Taco Bell, Allen Bell Properties, Drake Real Estate & Investments, Edge Medical, Stanger Surveying, The University of Texas at Tyler, Tyler Junior College, Texas Tech University, Southern Methodist University and the Tyler Police Department.
Ingle said their core business comes from a 100-mile radius, but they bid for school contracts across Texas. They did all of the trail signs for Big Bend State Park and have done projects in Louisiana and Arkansas, he said, adding that they can’t rely on just their own market; they have to expand to grow.
Design Center Signs has a retail showroom and sales, a project management group and outside sales. They have an art department and a large manufacturing area and workshop, where Harold Collier works as a screen printer. Design Center Signs merged with Collier’s business, CCC Printing & Graphics, and he has 25 years of experience.
Ingle said their customers, employees and vendors helped them be successful.
“We were really humbled and proud and excited to find out we were chosen for the small business category,” Ingle said.
Mrs. Ingle said it is exciting, but at the same time the bar has been set high. “We’ve got to set a great example and live up to that challenge every day now,” she said.
Ingle said they have received 11 awards from the Texas Sign Association for different projects in the six years they have owned the company. The Ingles work with several nonprofit organizations. Ingle serves on several local boards and will become president of the Texas Sign Association in June.