How Canadian Company ‘Gregory Signs’ Has Seen Success and Growth Over 40 Years

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First impressions. They are one-time occurrences that for many helps to begin shaping their initial perceptions and interpretations of individuals, communities, pieces of art, or anything else. They provide a frame, a sketch, a partial introduction or sneak-peek at the bigger picture, often leaving behind lasting effects. For retailers and other businesses, the first impression can mean everything, piquing curiosity and interest in prospective customers and establishing the voice and tenor of the brand. It’s a notion, and the importance of which, that is well-understood by Gregory Signs – a leading Toronto-based signage company that’s been working with businesses, helping to satisfy their branding and signage needs for more than four decades.

Forty Years of Growth

Founded in 1981 as an engraving shop by Gregory Kaminsky, the company began operations with the opening of its first retail location at 2899 Steeles Avenue West in Brampton, northeast of Toronto. Excelling within his craft, it wasn’t long before Kaminsky, who recognized an increasing need for the development of different types of signage, started to grow the business and the base of customers that it served. And, a little less than ten years following its founding, in response to its exponential growth and aided by the advent of new technologies, the company increased its product line, moving its operations to Petrolia Road in North York. It represented an incredible start for the company whose mission early on was to earn the recognition of its customers, employees, suppliers and communities it serves as one of the highest quality performers in the sign industry. And, as it turns out, the operations and reputation of Gregory Signs were only just beginning to flourish.

Boris Kaminsky
Boris Kaminsky

In 2006, due to an ever-increasing demand for the company’s services, as well as the commissioning of larger-scale projects, it once again moved its operations, this time to a larger freestanding manufacturing facility in Concord, Ontario. Sales have continued to escalate during the decade-and-a-half that’s followed, in concert with a widening portfolio and broadening scope of work that the company has taken on. In 2019, in efforts to support its impressive success, Gregory Signs opened a new Head Office in Concord, resulting in increased space at its nearby manufacturing facility. Shortly thereafter, the company opened additional sites, including a brand-new sales, showroom and manufacturing facility in Barrie, Ontario and a sales showroom in downtown Toronto. The growth and expansion of the company since its founding has been steady and quite impressive. But, according to Boris Kaminsky, Vice President of Sales and Marketing at Gregory Signs, the organization remains focused on continuing to build its reputation within the industry and communities it serves, and dedicated toward sustaining the extraordinary success it’s enjoyed to date.

“The company was built on a foundation of providing excellent customer service and expertise for the clients we work with,” he says. “And because the signage industry is one that’s constantly evolving with consumer and market trends and the introduction of new technologies, we make sure we continue to adapt every day. We’re constantly exploring ways that we can continuously improve the way we do things and expand the range of products that we offer. But, in the end, our success is all about working with retailers and other businesses to consistently help them develop and display the signage that best represents their operations, conveying the story of the brand to the customer.”

End-to-End Services and Solutions

To help its clients achieve these goals, Gregory Signs offers a full range of signage services, from conceptual planning and design through to fabrication and installation. And, as Kaminsky points out, there isn’t a business that the company will turn away, servicing all types and sizes of operations from all walks and industries. Specializing in developing and installing exterior signage, the company also offers an incredible array of other services, from delivering on interior, structural and custom signage needs to the development of wayfinding and digital signage, and just about everything in between. Each service is part of the overall custom solutions that are available to clients of the company who, according to Kaminsky, range with respect to the needs of the organization.

“We work with clients right across the spectrum who are all at different stages of their businesses’ development with varying signage requirements,” he explains. “Some of our clients come to us with a logo and branding that’s already been developed and implemented and they need our help in fabricating and installing it at locations. Some of our clients are at the prototype stage of their branding and require our expertise in making recommendations as we work with them to finalize their signage. And we also work with clients that come to us with very little in terms of branding and ideas. That’s when we’re able to leverage our full complement of experience and industry knowledge, providing consultation and our project management skills to help them develop their identity from scratch. We understand the importance of signage and how it can help differentiate brands. This, in combination with our decades of experience and know-how, helps to set our clients apart from their competitors.”

Expanding Presence and Portfolio

Its experience and know-how, it seems, also helps to set Gregory Signs apart from its competitors, too. As one of the few full-service signage providers, it long ago established itself as a market leader. Today, the company works with a breadth of organizations and brands, including the Toronto Transit Commission, the Ontario Provincial Police, Oracle, Puma, and Holmes, to name a few. The company has also been responsible for the recent development of a range of eclectic projects that include design and consulting work, as well as interior and exterior signage creation and installation, for the new Niagara Entertainment Complex, a number of temporary sign installations at construction sites, in addition to the development of cemetery wayfinding signs. And, although the majority of the clients that the company works with have operations based in Ontario, its services are also engaged by a substantial number of businesses outside of the province, in Alberta, British Columbia and Manitoba, as well as in the United States and other parts of the globe.

As part of its suite of services, Gregory Signs also works to ensure permits for their clients and assurance that their signage needs fit within local bylaws. And if a bylaw variance is necessary in order to fulfill the signage needs, the company will do the work required to assess the cost and viability of the variance for the business. Otherwise, it’s also able to make insightful recommendations concerning adaptations to the sign that will allow it to adhere to bylaws while retaining its desired impact. In addition, the company is also becoming more involved in the architectural design of store facades, adapting to market needs and extending its services even further, beyond the sign, to include the development and construction of a businesses’ entire first impression.

Agility During Difficult Times

The ability that Gregory Signs has shown through the years in its efforts to respond to market trends, shifting and adapting its service to meet client demand, has been remarkable. It’s a characteristic and attribute of the company that Kaminsky says has always been a part of its culture. And he explains how the impacts of COVID-19 presented yet another opportunity for the company to extend its services even further to help fill new and emerging needs and requirements amongst some of its clients.

“When the impacts of COVID started, we needed to pivot a little bit to make sure we were able to provide our clients with the services they required,” he says. “For instance, we received a lot of initial requests from dentist’s offices for the fabrication and installation of temporary enclosures and plastic doors and dividers to help close off open spaces for the safety and comfort of patients. We’ve been fortunate enough to be able to remain open for business because of these essential services that we provide and the projects that we’re involved in, including work with the TTC, hospitals and other medical and government buildings.”

Signs of Optimism

Although he recognizes the negative impacts that the global pandemic has had on some of the company’s competitors and the industries that it serves, Kaminsky explains that Gregory Signs is forging ahead with aggressive growth plans, nonetheless. Over the coming year, the company is intent on continuing to expand its presence, grow its customer-base and extend its portfolio of projects even further. In doing so, he suggests, its operations will be well placed to service the signage needs of a retooled and revitalized business landscape.

“Results of the pandemic on businesses, retailers in particular, have been severe. We’ve witnessed the impacts firsthand as a company through the services we provide. There have been a lot of bankruptcies and closures. And, we’re unfortunately expecting to see more before this all comes to an end. I don’t think we’ve yet seen the full impacts of the pandemic. But this situation isn’t going to last forever. With this in mind, we’re currently hiring in order to meet today’s demand, and to help prepare us for the future, too. We’re also going to be opening two new locations in Ontario, east and west of our current offices and facilities. We’re hopeful and optimistic that business will bounce back. When protocols are lifted and they’re allowed to fully open up again, when people feel comfortable going out and entering stores and other enclosed spaces, we’re anticipating an increase in the demand for the services that we provide. And, supported by our growth and the expert work that we do, we’ll be ready to meet that demand.”

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Article Author

Sean Tarry
Sean Tarry
Sean Tarry is an experienced writer who leverages his unique storytelling abilities to bring retail industry news and analysis to life. With 25 years of learning, including over a decade as Editor-In-Chief of Canadian Retailer magazine, he’s equipped with a deep understanding of the unique world of retail and the issues, trends, and innovators that continue to influence its evolution and shape its landscape.

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