The employees of Signcraft Signs & Things, a Naples-based business that is part of Hoffmann Family of Companies, were told midday Friday that the sign company was being shuttered after a nearly 45-year run.
Naples resident Michael Boyd founded Signs & Things in 1978 and merged it in 2011 with Signcraft, another local sign company he acquired that was established in 1977. Boyd stayed on as president after selling his local company to Hoffmann in early 2018, but Boyd recently announced he was retiring this fall.
“We bought the company four years ago and what we tried to do was merge it in with another business that we had. That was the game plan when we bought it and that didn’t work,” said David Hoffmann, the recently retired CEO of Hoffmann Family of Companies. “Secondarily, the founder of the company recently announced his retirement. He was leaving and we just didn’t have a way to move forward with the company, so we’re not shutting it down; we’re winding it down.”
Hoffmann, known for its ubiquitous signs with the family’s surname atop many local buildings and businesses, no longer will be in the sign business. Hoffmann purchased Signcraft around the same time the company was erecting the huge Hertz Arena sign atop the Estero venue shortly after Hoffmann purchased it and the Florida Everblades hockey team. Signcraft also mounted Hoffmann’s signature metal plaques on the buildings the family owns.
The initial idea was to have Sunmasters, a local Hoffmann company specializing in awnings, also fabricate and install signs but that plan didn’t pan out, Hoffmann said. Instead, Sunmasters will work to finish up Signcraft’s ongoing jobs so that customers are not affected by the change. “We are going to try to have a skeleton crew through Sunmasters that’s going to complete the [Signcraft] projects we have in house right now,” he said. “After those projects are wound down there’s no plan to continue that business.”
Alternative employment prospects are available for all of the sign company’s employees, Hoffmann said. “I know everybody was going to be asked to apply for a job at another with us and I know everybody’s getting severance pay, so I think we’re trying to do it the right way,” he said. “We have other opportunities for them in other companies. Last I heard, a dozen or so of those are interviewing for jobs in our other companies. They’re welcome to do that. We hope they do that.”
Employees contacted did not want to comment on the record about Signcraft’s fate, but one did make a public post late Friday afternoon on his personal Facebook page. “A bad day in the life of about 18 pretty nice people today. The front sign should read ‘Now Firing,'” posted Gary Boyd, the brother of former owner Mike Boyd, noting the irony that the pylon sign in front of Signcraft reads “Now Hiring.” “The Hoffmann company gathered us around today at lunchtime for some UNhappy meals. Everyone fired. Chew on that for a while. Personally I was one month short of 34 years there. One hard pill to swallow. Hope your day was better.”
Hoffmann said the company’s demise should not have been a surprise. “There were telltale signs we weren’t going to be moving forward,” he said. “We sold the building several months ago. That should have been an indication.”
A Hoffmann company sold the Signcraft warehouse and its 1.13-acre industrial park property at 3649 Progress Ave. in East Naples for $2.5 million at the end of 2021 to Naples-based Classiche LLC, which also owns the property directly behind it on Mercantile Avenue, Collier County property records show.
“It’s the first one we’ve ever shut down in the history of the company, anywhere in the world, for that matter,” Hoffmann said. “We’ve never done that before. It’s disappointing but it is what it is.”