There are many sign companies in North America, but very few offer an entire branding solution like Pattison Sign Group. As one of the largest sign companies in North America—and the largest in Canada—Pattison focuses on corporate customers, working with a host of well-known brand names.
The company manufactures both exterior and interior signage for national brands like McDonald’s, Starbucks, Toyota, Home Depot, Walmart, KPMG, and more. With 850 employees total, Pattison has seen tremendous growth in Atlantic Canada, with its New Brunswick location now housing its innovative Research & Development department.
Opportunities NB (ONB) spoke to Daniel Laplante, Director of Engineering, Technical Design and Estimation, to learn more.
ONB: Can you give us more specifics in terms of what Pattison offers clients?
Laplante: We offer a complete turnkey solution for your entire brand implementation. We look after everything from design to onsite surveying, engineering, obtaining permits, manufacturing, installation, and service. Most importantly, we highly value and respect the integrity of our clients’ brands.
Take McDonald’s, whom we work with across Canada; we guarantee their signage will be exactly the same from location to location. It’s the same consistent branding coast to coast, built the same, using the same standards, the same colours, etc. That’s our business, and it’s why we have so many large corporate retailers coming to us for our services. We have offices across Canada and the US, as well as manufacturing plants in New Brunswick, Ontario, British Columbia, and South Carolina. As a result, we can move quickly for any national brand.
ONB: Your headquarters are outside the province, how did Pattison Sign Group arrive in New Brunswick?
Laplante: The Jim Pattison Group, one of Canada’s largest privately-held companies, acquired Edmundston’s Imperial Signs in 1998. Imperial grew tremendously in New Brunswick by doing small custom projects and, over time, grew to become a strong competitor at the national level. That’s what drew the attention of the Jim Pattison Group.
ONB: Sustainability is very important to Pattison; Think Green. Be Green is the motto attached to your annual Corporate Sustainability Report. Can you expand on that philosophy?
Laplante: There are two components. The first is our sustainable development initiative. Every two years, we produce that report in order to look at how we’re doing in terms of sustainable development. We utilize a template from the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) as our standard. For six years now we’ve been highly focused on sustainability. We have even hired an external expert from New Brunswick, Dr. Yves Gagnon, an Engineering professor and former Research Chair in Sustainable Development with the Université de Moncton (UdeM). He introduced us to this initiative. Dr. Gagnon is very well respected in that field, having done tremendous research into things like wind energy.
The second component is our New Brunswick-based national R&D team. That department has developed specialized materials, tooling, dies, assembly techniques, manufacturing systems, and energy-saving alternatives to allow us to deliver products and services that exceed expectations with regards to both quality and sustainability. They have been crucial in us becoming a world-class player in the industry.
ONB: Is there any particular trend in your industry right now? Something you’re focused on in terms of sustainability?
Laplante: The evolution of illumination technology is one key trend. In order to provide energy-efficient signs—without any loss of visual quality—we have shifted towards LED technology for practically all of our signs. It’s the most environmentally friendly illumination product in the industry today.
ONB: Strong R&D requires people with specific skill sets. How do you recruit in such a competitive space?
Laplante: We work closely with New Brunswick’s post-secondary institutions. We’ve done work with UdeM, University of New Brunswick (UNB), and Collège communautaire du Nouveau-Brunswick (CCNB) here in Edmundston to develop programs tailored to meet our needs. For example, when we needed more qualified technical designers we partnered with CCNB on a new tailored curriculum; now we have students graduating with the required skills for our industry. It’s important to us to be able to recruit within New Brunswick.
ONB: Can you speak to the benefits of both living and doing business here in New Brunswick?
Laplante: Great support from the public sector is certainly one, whether it’s from Opportunities NB or other sections of government. Every time we have a new project we sit down with the province to receive input. We have leveraged public sector support for marketing efforts, buying equipment, export development assistance, and more. This is one of the many reasons we are still thriving in New Brunswick. It’s also why we have this manufacturing facility in Edmundston and have been able to continue growing it.
New Brunswick has a strong Information Technology ecosystem as well. Our national IT department is based here so having access to a good pool of IT professionals is another benefit.
Quality of life should be mentioned too. Being able to do business in a place that allows for good balance between work and personal life is a huge plus. Nothing beats the quality of life in New Brunswick, particularly the great outdoors! I don’t see myself working anywhere else right now.
Learn more about this world-class New Brunswick brand at pattisonsign.com.
Written by Jason Boies