While he was a student in art school, Chuck Kish needed a job. He took a position with a sign company, which allowed him to use his art skills, but in a way in which the paychecks were more regular.
“It was a practical way to make money and went from there,” Kish said. “I worked for a company (Bud’s Signs) when I was in school and a little bit after. I was manager for a while, and then I just went on my own.”
Kish, whose company is called Signwork by Chuck Kish LLC and is based in Masury, has been in the sign business for 30 years. Through all the economic ups and downs of that time, his business has been steady.
“It probably helps to have all kinds of commercial work, so you never really slow down,” he said. “If you specialize, you probably would, at times.”
Kish does carving, hand lettering, vehicle wraps, electronic sign installation and other work.
“Through the years, I had to learn a lot of different (skills), not just art skills and design skills,” Kish said, listing welding and sheet metal fabrication among his learned traits.
His work is a mix of large jobs and small, repeat customers and new ones.
“I do most of my work from around this area, but I also do certain jobs,” he said Sept. 21. “I hand letter, also, so a couple weeks ago I went all over Ohio painting lettering on windows and stuff for a particular franchise.”
Locally, he’s made signs for the Buhl Community Recreation Center and Sample-O’Donnell Funeral Home, Sharon; the Sharon Veterans of Foreign Wars; Combine’s in Hermitage; Bull Moose Tube in Masury; and Muscarella’s in Sharpsville. He installed the see-through window wraps at Brookfield High School, and the electronic signs for the school and Brookfield Township.
Stewart Medical hired him for a big job that included directional signs, electronic signs, lettering and marquees at Sharon Regional Medical Center.
“Also, as far as the types of work I do, probably half of it now is vehicle wraps and lettering,” said Kish, whose wife, Pam, and daughter, Taylor, sometimes help him out.
Vehicle wraps are printed sheets of vinyl used to decorate a car or truck.
Kish said he likes the diversity of the kinds of jobs, and the design that goes into each one.
“You get to do something different every day,” he said. “I like the creative part of it and the design.”
You can’t do this job without knowing how to design on a computer, but the best way to learn the craft is to work for someone else, he said.
“You learn so much by working a job, even as a laborer,” Kish said. “I started as a laborer and just moved up. Actually, all I did for that company for a while was hand letter, back before everything was vinyl and printing.”