Making ADA Compliance Easier For All Businesses
October 13, 2023
When it comes to compliance, Mike Shabluk, owner of Erie Custom Signs, certainly knows how to get the job done right. As producers of Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) signs, their role is vital to ensuring that signage meets all requirements upheld by the law.
In addition, they offer customized signage, adhering to ADA guidelines while still matching it to perfectly fit into a space (and a budget).
Businesses can be assured that when purchasing through Erie, whether that’s direct or wholesale, their ADA signage will look great and comply.
Based in Saginaw, Shabluk and his co-owner and wife, Lisa, began the business by buying an engraving company. After landing some large clients, they transformed it into Erie Custom Signs, and now can be proud of running a successful business that employs 24 people. And to be more environmentally responsible, they have implemented a subtractive process that uses an additive UV ink, which reduces the amount of acrylic used in their signs.
Focus caught up with Shabluk for a quick interview, gaining insight on the importance of innovative equipment, what SBAM resources he values most and a wise method of success to implement:
Focus: Tell our readers about the history of Erie Custom Signs.
Shabluk: In 2009, during the great recession, I began looking to buy a company that I could sell products/services outside of our local market. I found a small engraving company that had braille signs and ended up buying it. I got a call from a local hospital looking for braille signage for a doctor’s office, and that was our first order. Then we were referred by them to a general contractor who was working on a large State of Michigan project. We received a large order from them and that’s when we created Erie Custom Signs. We’ll have been in business for 14 years this November.
Focus: This year Erie Custom Signs was honored with a 50 Companies to Watch award. Name one important thing you and your team members do every day to demonstrate exceptional performance.
Shabluk: We place a heavy emphasis and focus on quality for our customers. We know they have choices, and we want them to choose us.
Focus: Knowing the importance of ADA signage for businesses, how do you ensure compliance?
Shabluk: Our software and trainings teach us how to layout and manufacture the signs. And our quality checks ensure everything is right. We’re involved at the national level with the International Sign Association, specifically regarding the ADA braille signage. We met with their training people, collaborating with them regarding future changes in laws and understanding rules and to make signage better for the user and the community.
Focus: Your website states, “For fellow sign shop owners, we are a partner, not a competitor.” How do you follow through with this statement?
Shabluk: Even though we do sometimes sell direct, our business model and all our growth focus around selling to the resell market, so we offer affordable dealer pricing to sign and print shops. We want them to know we’re here to work with them, not against them.
We’re also currently marketing and looking for clients through the office furniture dealer net- work/market. We’re pitching to offer signage as an add-on to a furniture project. We have a PDF configurator so the dealer can configure colors and fonts that match to the furniture project, which can then be shared with their clients.
Focus: Based on your experience, why is purchasing state-of-the-art equipment worth the investment?
Shabluk: For us, having advanced equipment means we’re at the forefront for compliance, speed and adaptability for our customers, as well as our designers. We’re able to compete against bigger companies and offer our clients the same kind of products and services at rea- sonable prices. We certainly don’t want to be left behind.
Focus: SBAM offers many vital resources for small business owners. Which ones do you find most helpful for your business and why?
Shabluk: We became SBAM members in 2020. SBAM gives us the opportunity to talk with other business owners, allowing us to network more readily and easily. And most importantly, SBAM gives us a voice in Lansing. With what Brian and the SBAM team are doing in Lansing, it’s the only way the small business voice of Michigan will be heard.
Focus: Please offer a method to success that can help guide other small business owners.
Shabluk: I recommend broadening your horizons. Don’t just look locally for all your business; look nationally and appeal to the whole country or even internationally. Your own backyard is great, but keep your eye on the bigger picture.
By Bona Van Dis, originally published in SBAM’s September/October 2023 issue of Focus magazine