Signing off: Naples-based sign company closing after more than 40 years in business
One of the oldest and most established sign companies in Southwest Florida is winding down its operations.
After more than 40 years in business, Signcraft Signs & Things in East Naples is finishing up its final jobs.
The business has operated as part of the Hoffmann Family of Cos. since 2018.
It's one of many local companies the Hoffmanns have acquired over the past six years.
Signcraft is closing for a few good and sensible reasons, said David Hoffmann, founder of the Hoffmann Family of Cos.
Among the reasons? The previous owner Michael Boyd, who continued to run the business after its acquisition, wants to retire — without a clear replacement, to step into his shoes, Hoffmann said.
With the lease for its offices about to expire, the business also faced a costly and time-consuming move elsewhere, he said.
More importantly, Hoffmann acknowledged the business hadn't turned a profit in years.
"The company has lost money every year we've owned it," Hoffmann said. "It just didn't make economic sense to keep it going."
That's not typical for a Hoffmann-owned enterprise.
The Hoffmanns are known for acquiring and growing small businesses — not shutting them down.
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Over his long career, Hoffmann said he probably had some 200 companies.
"I'm 70," he said, "and this is the first company I've ever had to shut down — ever," he said. "And I've had a lot of them. It was disappointing."
Signcraft will honor all of its contracts, with a "skeleton crew" that will complete all the outstanding jobs, Hoffmann said.
"We only have a few left," he said. "It's not that big of a story."
Established in 1978 as Signs & Things, the local company acquired Signcraft, a competing sign manufacturer, in 2011 and merged the two operations.
Signcraft served companies of all sizes, providing everything from simple plastic yard signs to large concrete road signs. Its more well-known national clients included McDonald's, Burger King and Ford.
The company didn't just make signs. It also handled permitting and installation for them.
One of its biggest projects involved fabricating and placing the new outdoor signage on the Hertz Arena in Estero a few years ago.
The business had less than 20 employees, making it one of the smallest in the Hoffmanns' portfolio.
Employees learned of the closing Friday.
While Boyd is retiring, the other employees have been offered the opportunity to work for another Hoffmann-owned company, in addition to receiving severance pay, Hoffmann said.
"I wasn't that involved," he said. "They were all offered jobs. I don't know how many took them or how many didn't."
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Some of the displaced workers could find jobs at Sunmaster of Naples, a manufacturer of canvas and vinyl awnings and canopies, as well as a host of other products, including hurricane shutters, staircases and railings.
In mid-May, the elder Hoffmann stepped down as CEO of the privately held family of companies, handing over the reins of leadership to his two sons.
When the Hoffmanns announced plans to purchase Signcraft a little over four years ago, Boyd said he liked the family's "whole business model."
"They seem to run some real nice businesses," he told the Naples Daily News at the time.
The Hoffmann Family of Cos. includes more than 85 businesses and brands, with 200 locations across the globe.
After relocating to Naples in 2015, David Hoffmann and his wife Jerry took a keen interest in Southwest Florida, buying up local real estate and businesses as part of a larger growth strategy.
Locally, the family's portfolio of companies includes nearly 40 businesses, with more than 2,000 employees.
In Southwest Florida, company holdings include the Hertz Arena and the Everblades hockey team, as well as several private golf clubs and a handful of other hospitality and service-oriented businesses, from Mitch's Cookies to Naples Princess Cruises.