Modern Home Builder

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Signature Streetscapes creates the details that give neighborhoods and homes a distinctive look.

By Tim O’Connor

How a community looks speaks to its quality. Wrought iron fences, cobblestone streets, even the shape of its lampposts and the flourishes on its street signs give it character. “It’s a way for a community to set themselves apartment from the average,” says Tim Mills, owner and president of Michigan-based Signature Streetscapes. “It creates a higher perceived value for the homes in the neighborhood.”

Those elements combine to create a brand for a neighborhood, which is why homeowners need a manufacturer that can deliver their vision for a community. For the past decade, Signature Streetscapes has proven it can be that company with its high-quality and highly-detailed products. “We’re reproducing nostalgia and bringing it back to the cities and neighborhoods,” Sales Manager Steve Snuffer says.

The Michigan-based company works with clients to design and manufacture decorative community signs, light poles, plaques and mailboxes. “We can use standard components to create unique designs at a great price or we can go totally out of the box and create something truly one-of-a-kind,” Mills says.

Growing with Market

Signature Streetscapes not only manufactures the little details that create the look of a community, but it works with clients to ensure their signs and decorations comply with local standards. “Our staff is really knowledgeable on all these requirements so when someone calls and we’re talking them through a project, we’re acting as a consultant a lot of times and helping them understand,” Mills says.

Signature Streetscapes started in 2007 as an offshoot of Port City Architectural Signage, a company that manufactures plaques and markers for golf courses. Recreational activities were among the first wave of businesses impacted by the Great Recession, so diversifying into upscale community signage and decorative products was a natural way for the company to supplement its business. “We wanted a way to sell our own product rather than relying on dealers to sell for us,” Mills says.

Of course, the recession wasn’t a great time for homebuilding or municipal beautification projects, either. But contrary to intuition, Mills says the timing actually worked out well for Signature Streetscapes. “Even though it was the worst time ever in history to get into that market, it gave us time to iron out the wrinkles,” Mills explains. By the time economy began to recover, the company had perfected its go-to-market process and was ready to ride the national resurgence in community development.

Signature Streetscapes offers a high-end decorative look aimed at individual homes in the $300,000-and-up range, million-dollar developments and downtown redevelopments. The company sells directly to anyone, but the majority of its customers are builders, developers and homeowners associations in the continental United States and Canada.

American Made

Because it both manufacturers and sells products, Signature Streetscape is involved in every stage of production, from the design to the quality of materials used. “We have 100 percent control over our manufacturing process where most of our competitors are buying their components from China or Mexico,” Mills says.

Everything is produced, welded and drilled in-house at Signature Streetscapes’ 30,000-square-foot facility in Muskegon, Mich., using metals and components sourced from other American companies. That has the added benefit of qualifying Signature Streetscapes as a Buy American-certified company, an important consideration for government projects where a certain percentage of items must be purchased from domestic manufacturers.

Those capabilities are only getting better. Signature Streetscapes recently upgraded to a manufacturing foundry process that uses air set molding to make castings. The older process resulted in more frequent imperfections, such as crooked letters, but with air set, Signature Streetscapes can make casts that are so precise it is like they came off a computer. “It allows us to create insanely detailed castings that are absolutely perfect,” Mills says.

The company’s high-quality work has earned it great feedback from clients and encouraged its growth. “[I love] the feeling you get when you did a great job and are also getting a pat on the back from the customer,” Mills says.