Classic Design & Manufacturing was born of the vision of Mike Sheehan, a true craftsman who has been creating distinctive signs for over 20 years. The combination of old world design with today's technology and artistic vision lead to an outstanding business that produces exquisite and flawless designs, transforming the ordinary into the extraordinary. It takes a certain spirit to give up a lucrative career and dive headfirst into a new industry, but that's exactly the scenario that gave birth to one of the top U.S sign companies.
The doors at Classic Sign & Mirror (recently renamed Classic Design and Manufacturing) located near downtown Pensacola, were opened 22 years ago by Michael Sheehan. At the time Mike was a licensed aircraft technician working in Louisiana for a company that leased helicopters to the oil industry. Interested in art from an early age, Mike used his artistic talents to make signs in his spare time. In 1981 things changed, the oil companies were headed for a recession and Mike was growing tired of the hours and the travel his job required. "I decided to give sign work a try full time", he says. "There where some lean times, but I always thought what I was doing would catch on, so I stayed with it". Mike's perseverance paid off, now his handy work is sought by companies and businesses all over the country looking for structurally sound and visually impacting signage.
Mike's background in aviation comes in handy in the "everyday" inner workings of the business. It allows CD&M to utilize the newest, state-of-the-art technology and this includes ArtCAM, artistic Computer-Aided Design and Manufacturing software (CADCAM) from Delcam, based in Birmingham, England.
We were one of the first ArtCAM customers in the United States because when I saw ArtCAM I knew right away that it was so much more then just a design product. It's the output to whatever you're going to make from the beginning to end. It's the whole package".
While Mike puts most stock in the daily triumphs of satisfied customers he is also recognized by his peers as a leader in the industry. As a trusted editorial contributor for various national sign publications and winner of numerous national and international awards, Mike and his staff are truly trendsetters,
I've learned over the years that instead of trying to do it all, do what you do best"
Mike said. It's this philosophy of work and ability to offer a unique, quality product that has allowed them to carve a niche in the sign industry.
With his unique niche in the industry fortunately Mike was able to re-create himself again after Hurricane Ivan hit them in the early morning hours of September 16th 2004. It left a wake of destruction behind and CD&M was one of the casualties. "My heart sank when I first saw the damage" Mike recalls, "when a bay door failed the air pressure inside the building increased until the back of the building collapsed outward allowing 20 feet of roof to collapse in on our offices". With all the damage in the region, everything cost a lot more to buy and took way longer to re-build then Mike anticipated. However, due to the incredible focus of Mike and staff they were able to rebuild his business again. They endured for two full years to rebuild and continue to operate in the mist of construction. Mike was able to save a lot of his own frequently used shapes, symbols and logos into ArtCAM by using the Relief & Vector Library, which allowed CD&M to continue producing quality designs to customers quickly, even in a reduced capacity.
"Good comes out of everything" Mike said, "You just have to find it". Before the storm Mike had begun to change the focus of his business toward manufacturing. "We rebuilt the business to accommodate a change in the market direction. With ArtCAM we were able to see how we could expand the range of products and services we could offer to our customers.
The rebuild brought the entire building up to today's building code and wind load. CD&M is now over 7000 square feet and has two 408 Gerber Sabres. "We now have a much safer, more comfortable and secure facility than we did before. ArtCAM was a big part of this rebuilding" said Mike.
I think of things to do and I some how find a way to use ArtCAM, I even used it in a situation once when I had to know what the weight was before starting. So by modeling in ArtCAM and doing a little math I figured it out before even cutting a thing".
Backed by 30 years of CADCAM development experience Mike can feel confident in his ArtCAM investment. Mike said, "Delcam have listened to and implemented some of the many changes that I have suggested over the years. From the forum (over 10,000 strong) to the annual user group meetings, Delcam will work really hard to bring the features out that people feel are important to making the software better".
More information on Classic Design & Manufacturing please visit www.classicsign.com