Architectural signage is a cornerstore of the work that Behrends Group conducts. It is an essential part of the signage industry and tends to refer to any custom sign or signage system that helps with identification and navigation. Often, architectural signage is found in subdivisions, on campuses, and is used in various public and private facilities. It can include monuments, recognition systems, directionals (wayfinding), entrance signage, branding and any signage elements that guide and inform individuals within a given space. No matter where you go in the city –to some far-flung corner or right in the heart of the hustle-and-bustle – the mark of Behrends is clearly on display. Over the years, the city, urban planners, neighbourhoods, and critical institutions have trusted us to communicate for them in the visual landscape. By providing beautiful signage for these highly visible entities, Behrends continues to be the most trusted name for architectural signage in our community.
With architectural signage as a fundamental part of what Behrends Group does, it makes sense that it is of critical importance to maintain consistency and excellence in the quality of our work. Whether it is in negotiating between designers, clients and benefactors, or assisting with communicating a vision into a fabricated signage reality, Paul Phillips is the resident expert for maintaining the relationships that go into top-end architectural signage. With longevity in the industry, a whole lot of experience and a key eye for forging lasting partnerships that benefit the client and the end-product, Paul is an indispensible part of the Behrends team.
Tell me a little bit about your personal history and what brought you to Behrends Group.
Before I was recruited to Behrends by Gen Russo, I had experience working in building constructions and with engineering technology, and had spent three years at NAIT in carpentry. I had five years of experience working in contractor sales for a major hardware company, but when Gen was thinking about purchasing Behrends, he came to me and asked me to join him. He wanted key people to be involved in his future vision of the business, and I got to be part of that vision. I’ve now been working for Behrends Group for 15 years.
Can you tell me about some of your favourite moments while working for the company?
There are plenty of favourite moments. I’m really happy when projects go well, particularly landscape projects that have been executed excellently and end up being high-profile. On a personal level, the camaraderie at the company barbecues, picnics and social events make everything really fun and help to create a social atmosphere at work. I enjoy spending time with my Michael Crosswhite, another product consultant here at Behrends as well. Going out for a beer after work once and awhile really contributes to the friendly atmosphere.
What is your current position at Behrends Group?
I am a product consultant and specifically the construction-lead person. I follow up on leads and work for Behrends to get construction-based jobs. I act as the liaison between Behrends, the contractor companies and the architectural firms to design signage packages to fit their needs.
You are primarily responsible for managing architectural signage projects that have been fabricated by Behrends. What can you tell me about this particular aspect of your work?
Yes, as I said, this is my main role. Honestly, I really like meeting different people and, in this part of the industry, you meet all kinds of people. Seeing the interaction between the different industries is also amazing – how everyone works together. And, of course, the relationships we build with different contractors and architects tends to be one of the things that what keeps me here. The excitement and challenge of new projects, and getting to work with so many talented people is a great experience.
What is the value of coming to Behrends for architectural signage? What sets this company apart from others?
I think what sets us apart from others is the craftsmanship in our products due to the talent of our employees. Also, the design team works very well with the industry to maintain a high level of proficiency and to use their expertise to create amazing work. It is remarkable how easily and effectively the team at Behrends can bring a sketch on paper through the whole process and have beautiful work that impresses everyone in the end.
What are some of the most memorable projects you have worked on so far? Do you have a particular favourite?
I would say Hawthorne and Granville and Jager Ridge and probably the various Windermere projects stand out to me. They were very interesting and they combine different elements of our casting and metal work that mesh together to bring a unique vision alive.
What are the general reactions of your clients when they see their vision become a reality? Do you have any touching stories about customers who were particularly satisfied?
There are probably ten or twelve projects a year where the customer was satisfied that we had met their short deadlines for opening dates – likely extremely grateful that we could perform above and beyond the call of duty to make them happy. This is made easier by dealing with the engineering and landscape architects because the relationships we have established with them are really comfortable and easy – they have an open-door policy that makes communication effective and makes it easier to work in tighter time constraints.
These projects tend to be very public and well-viewed. Are you proud to be part of the tradition of changing the Edmonton visual landscape in important ways?
Oh yes, it is very rewarding when you go by and see your signs and, especially, how they are the welcoming entrance feature to beautifully built subdivisions… it is great to know that you had a hand in something people get to appreciate every day.
What, in your opinion, has made the company so successful?
The staff: the designers and the craftsman are all incredibly talented people. These are people who have had such longevity and long careers with the company, so you know they care about what they put out and have the experience to do it right. Also, the relationships we have built with our clientele and our contractors over the years makes everyone comfortable coming to us, knowing that we have the experience, quality and connections to create successful projects.
What do you like to do in your free time?[laughs] I like to drink beer with Mike Crosswhite, my colleague in product consulting. Also, the lake and cabins are a big passion of mine. I love spending time with my family.