Innovating Since 1963
The Journey from Willis Neon Signs to Quality Sign To Harbinger Sign of the Future
People often ask us about the background of Harbinger, so we thought we would tell the story about how we came to be and what we are up to now.
George Massey came to Jacksonville, Florida, to investigate purchasing the flagging Willis Signs from the bank for a company in Tampa. That company decided to pass on the purchase, but Massey decided to take the risk on his own. In 1963, George convinced the bank to let him buy Willis Signs with nothing more than the promise to fulfill the contracts and repay the debt. The bank agreed and Willis Neon Signs became Quality Sign.
Despite a lack of formal education, George was a brilliant innovator. Some of his sign-making techniques are still used at Harbinger today. George made excellent signs and was good at getting clients, but in the 1960s and 70s they were wining and dining clients like it was Madison Avenue. Throwing parties and expensing dinners seemed like the thing to do; but it didn’t do their bottom line any favors. In fact, some say the stress of it all may have killed George.
Cutting Edge Sign Innovations in the 70s, 80s & 90s
In 1972, George Massey died of a heart attack and his son-in-law, Roger Williams, came down to Jacksonville to tie up Massey’s affairs. Roger saw something in the fledgling enterprise and decided not to shut it down. In less than 10 years, Roger turned the small sign shop around and built it up to a successful sign provider working all over the region for an increasingly impressive roster of clients.
In 1979, Roger bought the first computer specifically designed for sign makers. During the 80s, Harbinger was one of the first companies to use computerized cutters for aluminum and wood projects. By the 90s Harbinger upgraded the tech in available LED lights into a groundbreaking lighting solution that changed the way signs were lit. The Harbinger LED Retrofit is the gold standard for saving clients money on their energy bills and bulb replacement.
When Steve Williams took the helm in 2006, he brought extra marketing savvy and lean business practices to the table. Since Quality Sign was such a common name in the sign business, Steve initiated a rebrand that spoke to their differences, especially their reputation for innovation. In 2010, Quality Sign became Harbinger Sign of the Future.
Lean Practices, Content Creation & Digital Signage
Steve initiated lean practices to bring their 30-day sign manufacturing process down to 5 days and vastly reduced waste, both of materials and time, making Harbinger even more efficient and profitable. In 2013, Steve started Harbinger Innovation Group, a creative team that specializes in designing strategic content for clients on the sign post, through digital signs, branded environments, user interfaces and customer experiences.
So that is the story so far and we aren’t even close to finishing it. Reach out to us if there is anything more you would like to know. We are happy to sit around the campfire and tell our tale to anyone that wants to hear it.