Signs By Tomorrow
Where: 2550 Atlanta Highway No. 500, Gainesville
When asked the highlight of his company’s 15 years in business, Jay Kelly doesn’t mention designing for an Olympic venue or hitting the $1 million sales mark.
The highlight, for him, is working every day with his family.
Jay, his wife Janet, son Michael and daughter-in-law Kari Kelly are co-owners of Signs By Tomorrow, which is celebrating its 15th anniversary this year.
Sitting in the office of their Gainesville store, Jay, Janet and Michael Kelly discussed the highs, lows and future of their family business.
When the company started in 2001, Janet Kelly was a Hall County educator. She kept teaching while helping her husband and oldest son start the company. Kari Kelly — Michael Kelly’s sister-in-law — was still in college while working as a sign designer.
“It was just an opportunity to work together as a family,” Jay Kelly said. “And to be part of the business community here.”
The business has done well each year over the years, experiencing a yearly average 20 percent increase in sales, according to Jay Kelly.
Signs By Tomorrow is really a reflection of the strength of business in the area, according to Michael Kelly, because most of its clients and customers are businesses.
Even in the years of the “Great Recession,” Jay Kelly said they did comparatively well in business.
“We were very late to go down and very late to come up,” he said. “That impressed me. Our customers stayed with us, and it really impressed me, the resiliency of our customers.”
Michael Kelly said their biggest area partners are the Boys and Girls Clubs of Hall County, the Georgia Mountain Food Bank, local schools, University of North Georgia, Northeast Georgia Health System, Longstreet Clinic and more.
The company’s products include just about everything — from vehicle and wraps, vehicle lettering and graphics, real estate signs, lighted outdoor signs, indoor wall frames and much more.
Jay Kelly said its tagline has long been, “Imagine it. We can do it.”
“When we started out 15 years ago, we said that to customers and really we were learning as we went,” he said. “We didn’t know anything about signs. Really. I think, personally, that has been one of the greatest things here. We’d listen to customers and hear their ideas and say, ‘Yeah! We can do that.’ And then we’d grow.”
Janet Kelly agreed.
“It’s always been about openness to ideas,” she said.
Jay Kelly said now the company, its three designers and 14 total employees are “deeply skilled” in the sign-making process and the creativity needed for it. He said they doubled their square footage three years ago and are already hoping to expand again.
The company’s core values, listed on its website www.signsbytomorrow.com, include “integrity, innovative, community, humor and fun.”
“And it honestly is fun,” Jay Kelly said. “It’s a fun thing we do. We provide solutions in a great, fun, creative way.”