Hooper Signs started our 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 directly with the tradesman.
Starting off as Alan Hooper The Signwriter
Alan Hooper Snr was a highly skilled signwriter/sign maker. Running as a sole trader, he built up his sign business looking after many local brand name clients, including Newcastle Breweries, BBC, House of Fraser and Pumphreys. Sadly in 2015, he passed away at the age of 82. Even though he had been long time retired, he regularly you’d turn up to work to see what was happening and get involved in jobs when needed.
Expanding a Sign Making Company
In the late 8o’s Alan Hooper the Signwriter expanded to become a team of 3, bringing in skilled tradespeople 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 Gerber 4B Sign Making Plotter.
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.
Other sign-making companies were initially sceptical but started to purchase their vinyl graphics from us. Then moved on to purchase their own equipment.
Becoming Hooper Signs
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 (Gerber Edge). A machine that became a major asset in producing short-run printed decals, where screen printing was too cost-prohibitive.
We also evolved the company name! The company is still physically called ‘Alan Hooper the Signwriter’, but we now trade as ‘Hooper Signs‘. The trading name was established to represent that there is more than one Hooper in the company. It also updated the concept of the type of work we did. We had long moved from just traditional signwriting and had moved on to most types of signage and signs.
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 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 sum 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 60 years!”
Here are some more retro photos from our history.