Lakehead Sign, Advanced Design to work togetherLakehead Sign Co. will continue to big jobs around the region, even though it was recently sold to a Cloquet-based competitor, Advanced Design Awnings & Signs.
By: Candace Renalls, Duluth News Tribune
When a big company sign and logo goes up high on the side of a Duluth building, chances are Lakehead Sign Co. did it.
And those downtown holiday street decorations? They put those up, too. They even took that 10 Commandments monument that stood in front of Duluth City Hall for decades and erected it in a less controversial spot.
Lakehead Sign Co. will continue to do those kinds of jobs, even though it was recently sold to a Cloquet-based competitor, Advanced Design Awnings & Signs.
”We do business from Minneapolis through International Falls, where Lakehead was more local,” said Chris Mathews, who is owner and president of Advanced Design Awnings & Signs and now of Lakehead Sign Co. as well. “They do more big signs; we do more manufacturing. We make awnings and our own signs; they purchased a lot of their signs.”
The two small businesses — both founded in the 1970s — will now operate as sister companies, creating more offerings for both.
Acquiring Lakehead allows Advanced Design to expand its presence in the sign industry and gives it access to Lakehead’s design and production facilities and its staff, Mathews said. Advanced Design, which has 14 employees, specializes in illuminated signs.
The sale, technically to Advanced Design Inc., was completed May 1 after four months of negotiations and hammering out the details, Mathews said.
He declined to reveal the purchase price.
Lakehead will maintain a base in Superior but will likely move from its current location at 910 Hammond Ave. to another site in the city, he said.
“To a great extent they will do exactly what they have done, make some signs, primarily very specific signs, and put up signs,” Mathews said.
Some of Lakehead’s eight employees will likely stay on.
“A lot of them were part time so we will move to a full-time operation,” Mathews said. “We are working on who will continue. We assume some employees will move over with us.”
Lakehead Sign Co. was founded in 1970, specializing in neon signage. Over the years, the company grew through repeat business and referrals. Its client list has included Target Corp., the University of Minnesota Duluth, Holiday Inn and Century Link.
Former Lakehead owner and CEO Jeff Tyllia, bought the company in 2000. In a prepared statement, he said the sale will allow him to focus on his other role as executive vice president of Hunt Electric Corp., where he’s in charge of business development.
“I also feel that Advanced Design is better positioned to grow Lakehead and develop the company I always envisioned.” he said.
The sale was handled by Crescenda Investment Banking Advisors of Minneapolis which specializes in the sale of privately-held family-owned companies.