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.

Street Name Leter Change MUTCD

As you may have heard, the 2009 Manual of Uniform Traffic Control Devices (MUTCD) has new standards for street name signs. The federal government is requiring communities around the country to update their current “all uppercase” street signs to a new version that consists of both Upper and Lowercase lettering. These changes allow for easier reading, which will assist an aging U.S. population and make for safer driving conditions.

“As drivers get older, we want to make sure they’re able to read the signs,” says FHWA administrator Victor Mendez. “Research shows that older drivers are better able to read signs when they’re written in both capital and small letters. It’s really driven by safety.”

Reflectivity requirements have also been changed, requiring all signs that fail to meet the minimum standards be replaced. Reflectivity is the term used to describe how well a sign directs light from approaching cars headlights back to the source.

Cities and communities will have until 2015 to implement these changes bringing their roads up to code. See the example above that illustrates the change from an outdated street sign compared to the updated version meeting federal requirements. *The lettering for names of streets and highways on Street Name signs shall be composed of a combination of lower-case letters with initial upper-case letters. Lettering on post-mounted Street Name signs should be composed of initial upper-case letters at least 6 inches in height and lower-case letters at least 4.5” in height. On local two-lane streets with speed limits of 25 mph or less, 4-inch initial upper-case letters with 3-inch lower-case letters may be used. See the table below for more detailed information from the 2009 MUTCD (Karen Stippich, Street Name Sign Changes,10).

The change to upper and lower case signs should occur as roads are constructed or reconstructed or as part of a systematic upgrading program in accordance with 23 CFR 655.603. When a non-compliant device is replaced or refurbished it shall be replaced with a compliant device per the introduction of the 2009 MUTCD. A compliant device meets all the standards of the MUTCD including size, retro reflectivity, height, lateral offset and breakaway requirements. (Karen Stippich, Street Name Sign Changes,10)

Click here for a link to the 2009 MUTCD 2009 manual, and a complete description on all new sign and marking requirements. If you have questions, or need help with adding or replacing street and traffic signs within your community call Signature Streetscapes. Signature Streetscapes is a manufacturer of high quality decorative street and traffic signs for use in upscale residential communities and downtown business districts. We also manufacture a full line of residential curbside mailboxes, address plaques, decorative and commercial lighting and custom wayfinding solutions. Visit our website to view our product line and download our catalogues.

Our Foundry At Work

Here at Port City Architectural Signage & Signature Streetscapes we are not afraid to get our hands dirty. We operate a full service foundry and fabrication facility to manufacture the parts and components we sell. This allows us to offer the best selection, highest quality and service available. The same people talking to you about your order are most likely the same people that were responsible for the original design and manufacture of each individual and unique product you see on our websites or catalogues. Our team works with each customer individually to create original designs for your project that exceed expectations and deliver in a timely manner. We manufacture a variety of products in our own state of the art “Airset/No-Bake” foundry including cast aluminum street name signs, address plaques and custom one of a kind memorial/dedication plaques. We also fabricate an entire product line of rust-free aluminum decorative street name signs, ornamental light posts and custom traffic signs. Our certified welders combine cast components with high grade extruded aluminum to create one of a kind sign and lighting components that will stand the test of time. Below is a sample video of our casting process and how we use sand molds to cast aluminum or bronze decorative signs or plaques. We also utilize a green-sand (olivine) molding process to produce our cast aluminum bases and finial post caps.

Everything you need to know about golf course signage…

When you are ready to purchase new signs for your golf course many things must be considered. What materials are best suited for my course and geographical location? What is my budget for the project? What types of signs do I need for my course? Will I purchase tee signs, yardage markers, course directional signs? What kind of maintenance can i expect to have on the signs once they are installed? What are the mounting and finish options available? These are all questions that can and should be asked before purchasing signs for your course or development. Port City Architectural Signage specializes in creating one of a kind golf course signage packages for courses all over the world, we can help! No matter what your budget, Port City can make a sign that will fit your needs. We manufacture a wide range of products from materials including bronze, aluminum, zinc, copper & recycled plastics. Our products are designed and built to be durable and attractive. When the time comes to add new or replace old signage to your golf course or development, let the experts at Port City Architectural Signage help. We partner with some of the industries top manufactures and suppliers to deliver the highest quality product available at a competitive price. Call us today for more information about our products and dealers.