A decade ago during a convention in Las Vegas for his Plainview Outdoor Advertising Co., Todd Plain took notice of the new LED signs being introduced at the trade show and determined to make sure he was part of that digital future.
"I really liked what I saw and felt like at that point this is where it is all going in signage and sure enough we were correct in that," Plain said Tuesday during a groundbreaking ceremony for one of America's first LED assembly plants in Chattanooga. "We learned the business, made contacts with suppliers all over the world and we've had over 600% growth in the past couple of years."
Eight years after selling his first electronic LED signs assembled overseas, the Chattanooga-based Plainview LED sign company announced Tuesday it will begin assembling its electronic displays in Chattanooga early next year in a 10,000-square-foot factory the company plans to build off of Bonny Oaks Drive.
"I like the visibility of Highway 153 and being close to the airport where people can fly in and see the products we are making," Plain said. "This is a perfect set up for what we need."
Frizzell Construction Co. is scheduled to begin work on the new facility in the next two to three weeks and Plain said he expects to be in the complex by February. With the expansion, Plain expects to nearly double his current 13-employee staff "and we hope to continue to grow over time.
"I like to tell people we hire that this is a career, not just a job," he said.
The family-owned Plainview LED has developed its own software to allow users to quickly change their sign displays through computer servers the company maintains in Chattanooga. Through cloud, Plainview accesses the signs it sells across the country.
"We've sold signs from Spokane Washington to Columbus, Ohio, to Philadelphia and Chicago," Plain said, noting that customers have used the signs for everything from employee information displayed on indoor on-premise signs to outdoor advertisements on 14- by 48-feet electronic billboards.
In the past year, the company's signs gained certification by UL or Underwriters Laboratories, an organization that has been around for more than 100 years.
"I grew up in Chattanooga and went to public schools here so it's a real honor for me to bring this technology to an industry that has been a part of our community for a century and update it for the 21st century," Plain said.
The software allows live feeds updated every 30 minutes to display changing information such as temperatures and weather conditions, according to Derek Markey, the company's chief operating officer.
"We'll be able to do water testing, light sensitive testing and a host of other quality control measures here, plus we'll be able to bring our customers here to see and test out these signs," Markey said."They'll be able to test out our software, which is designed for both major billboard companies to small businesses."
Plain said an SBA study in 2013 found that small business using LED signs report an increase in business from 15-150%.
"This is another great example of our small businesses, which account for 93% of all of our businesses in Hamilton County, helping Chattanooga to grow and giving back to this community in a variety of ways," Hamilton County Mayor Jim Coppinger said.
Contact Dave Flessner at email@example.com or at 757-6340