By Charlotte Boynton
Island Sign Works proprietor Neil Cavanaugh displays one of the hand-carved letters he makes in his Wiscasset workshop. (Charlotte Boynton photo)
Last November, Neil Cavanaugh expanded his longtime business, Island Sign Works, into Wiscasset, where it now shares a location with The Copy Shop at 62 Old Ferry Rd.
Cavanaugh began Island Sign Works out of his Westport Island home in 1982.
Cavanaugh has worked for the Maine Bar Association as its production and design director for several years, and said he is planning to retire from that position very soon.
“I have been doing this type of work for 30 years, so I decided to make it real,” he said. “I acquired the extra space with The Copy Shop, which is a natural fit. The two businesses complement one another.”
During a brief interview Jan. 12, The Copy Shop owner Chris Hallowell shared Cavanaugh’s enthusiasm about the expansion.
“It definitely is a good fit for both businesses,” Hallowell said. “Customers that need printing in most cases need signage. Having both businesses in the same building makes it good for our customers. We are really excited to have them here with us.”
The Copy Shop will celebrate its 40th year of business this year. The new Copy Shop sign, which was erected on Christmas Day, was made by Island Sign Works.
The Copy Shop’s first location was on Water Street in Wiscasset, when it was owned by Alan Mast. In 1995 it moved to its present location under new ownership.
“I can’t believe it’s been 20 years,” Hallowell said.
With the new home for Island Sign Works comes new equipment that has been installed at the site, a 54-inch Roland printer and a 54-inch motorized laminator.
Cavanaugh said this equipment will give the company expanded capabilities in exterior and interior signage, including dry mounting and laminating, decal printing, and vehicle graphics.
The addition of computerized number control machining and sand-blasting equipment at the company’s original Westport Island location has expanded the company’s capabilities in three-dimensional signage and contract manufacturing.
Since moving into the new location on Thanksgiving 2014, the new equipment has allowed the company to take on larger projects, including the work to provide signage for the newly opened Portland Food Co-op on Congress Street in Portland, vehicle graphics projects for Northeast Security in Wiscasset, and exterior signage for Maine Vitality Centers in southern Maine.
Other capabilities of the new full-service shop include offering architectural signage, banners, trade show booth displays, decals, in-house screen printing, carved letters, and embroidery.
Cavanaugh’s son Greg, who has an architectural background, is working with his father in the new shop. With the growth of the business, Cavanaugh said he may need to add even more staff later this year.
Cavanaugh moved to Westport Island in 1982 and, along with his wife Ann, owned and operated the Westport Barn Country Store for about eight years. Ann passed away in May 2012.
Neil and Ann donated many volunteer hours to the town of Westport Island. Ann served as the town’s health officer, and Neil continues to serve as the town’s deputy plumbing inspector as well as the chairman of the town board of appeals.