Hooper Signs started out life as a traditional one man signwriting company back in 1960. The company back then was called Alan Hooper the Signwriter. This was to reflect the personal touch of dealing direct with the tradesman.
Alan Hooper Snr is a highly skilled signwriter / sign maker. He occasionally still does a small amount of traditional signwriting even though he has been retired since 1995. Sometimes the traditional method is still required.
In the late 8o’s Alan Hooper the Signwriter expanded to become a team of 3, bringing in skilled trades people from different backgrounds. John Hooper had an engineering background and David Hollingsworth brought along a City and Guilds in Painting & Decorating. This period also marked a major turning point in sign making. The introduction of self adhesive vinyl lettering.
The machine above was one of the first vinyl plotters imported in the UK from America by Spandex PLC. Hooper Signs managed to secure a machine from that first shipment. It was purchased for £15,000 (which back then was a lot). The next problem was to convert all the current sign customers into a system that was alien to them. Colours were limited to a range of ten (including black and white). The main advantage was being able to produce signage quicker and more accurately than before.
The company has come a long way since then, but still holds onto its history and wide range of knowledge. We have developed new techniques for handling traditional requirements. Yet also used traditional methods where modern techniques just couldn’t find a solution. We upgraded our systems to include (again) one of the first digital printers that were suitable for exterior signage. A machine that became a major asset in producing short run printed decals, where screen printing was too cost prohibitive.
We’ve moved into the large format digital area. This was a natural follow on, as signage has become more ‘designed’ and graphical. Customers wanted ‘vehicle wraps’, a service where a sheet of vinyl is applied covering the panels on a vehicle. Site board were starting to include more artist impressions than previous, we he had to move with the times.
Since then we have secured contracts for a market we hadn’t thought about entering. Short run poster printing. Our facilities here allowed us to print paper in a short run for posters larger than A0.
It’s hard to some up a business that has evolved, developed and expanded in a fast-moving environment, where the solutions are mainly bespoke. The best way I can probably say it is “we’ve been doing it for more than 50 years!”
Here are some more retro photos from our history.