Makers of Tomorrow: Greg Leaman
Job: President & CEO, Leaman Signs (Mount Pearl, NL, Canada)
After work: Leaman likes to visit family and work on his house. He recently began working on a nursery for the baby he and his partner expect later this summer.
Quote to know: “I didn’t want to start a signshop. I wanted to buy a laser and make stuff for people, or make products and sell them.”
Many successful corporations were founded through humble beginnings, often starting out in a founder’s garage or basement. (Apple comes to mind.) Greg Leman followed a similar path with Leaman Signs, using a windowless, basement student office space on the campus of the Memorial University of Newfoundland to fabricate products with his new Epilog laser engraver. So began Engravable Designs Inc., Leaman Signs’ forerunner. “I bought a vacuum to filter materials and smoke, and filtered them into the dropped ceiling,” Leman said, with a hint of mischief and shame in his voice. “I never got in trouble.”
Leaman ultimately moved out of the basement and into the shipping-container-sized rear portion of a construction business; then to a 1,900-sq.-ft. shop space, where he met Tony Sandbrook, who is now Leaman Signs’ COO. Fast forward to 2019, and Leaman Signs boasts 12 employees and a 5,000-sq.-ft. shop, but Leaman already has plans to move into a larger space next year. “We can’t sit back and float,” he said. “We’ll fail.”
Leaman’s title of president & CEO has a corporate ring, but he remains hands-on, designing, fabricating, painting and installing signs with regularity, as well as pricing jobs. And whether it’s a channel letter, a freestanding pylon sign, environmental signage, a sign box or an awning, Leaman believes his company stands out for its quality. A cliché notion, perhaps, but Leaman often reminds himself why people buy signs, and that philosophy has helped inspire rapid growth for his company. “That’s why we work with outside designers and architecture firms,” he said. “Our duty is to do the best quality we can do. People will be drawn to it.”
Enhance your Signs of the Times reading experience by exploring our interactive digital edition. Receive it in your inbox by subscribing online.