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A third-generation business with deep roots turns to WilliamsMcCarthy LLP to assist with challenges and growth.
As he walks through the facility built by his grandparents & parents to house a screen-printing business 75 years ago, Ian Harris feels the pride and weight of running a third-generation business.
“This was a huge undertaking when my grandfather started it, and it’s been in the family since then,” he reflected. “I basically grew up here.”
Learning the business from the ground up
Harris is proud to have worked in basically every facet of Signcraft Screenprint, Inc. (SSI), a Galena, IL-based screen-printing company that produces high-quality decals and OEM marketing for worldwide customers and recognized brands like John Deere, Meade Tractor, Foodliner, and more. Starting on second shift in the factory, he worked for five to seven years learning every step in the process firsthand. He credits that time for his success when he stepped into ownership following his grandparents and his mother.
“I didn’t just walk into the office – I wasn’t handed this on a silver platter,” Harris shared. “I worked for years next to employees that are still here today, which earned me credibility with the team as well as knowledge to run the business.”
SSI’s core business is screen printing decals for large OEM companies as well as one-off projects like door and graphic decals. As the industry has evolved, so has the company by adding capabilities, production options, and substrates to meet customer needs.
Evolving with demand
Today, SSI offers traditional screen-printing as well as wide-format digital printing ideal for vehicle wraps and other applications. Some customers have 60-plus-year relationships with SSI while others are now learning what SSI can do for them.
In his business, Harris enjoys seeing their work out in the world. “It’s fun to see a John Deere combine with an anniversary decal we did or catch a wrapped NHRA drag racing semi on the road.”
New generation, new challenges
Like any business that stands the test of time, SSI has survived its share of challenges, including growing pains. In 2019, the company was faced with a matter outside of its local counsel’s area of expertise. Their counsel referred them to WilliamsMcCarthy, and Harris had the opportunity to work with partner Joel Huotari.
Huotari came out to learn about the business and tour the facility – a level of personal attention impressive to Harris, who said he felt comfortable right away with Huotari’s professionalism, knowledge, confidence, and ability to communicate. The issue was resolved in 2021, and Harris couldn’t be happier.
“I’m super pleased with the outcome,” said Harris. “Joel and the team’s total professionalism made me feel confident in their ability to handle the situation – and they did.”
Making the connection
SSI is now embarking on some big projects for the years ahead, and Harris says he’s happy to have made the connection with WilliamsMcCarthy. After close to 75 years and seven expansions, SSI is celebrating its milestone anniversary by moving production into a new facility about two blocks away from its current location. The new space offers plenty of growing room, with roughly 35,000 additional square feet.
Harris is excited and nervous as he shares plans. “This is a huge undertaking, and the employees are really excited about it. It will be all new and state of the art.”
In addition to the new facility, SSI is exploring unique projects and potential trademarks for which WilliamsMcCarthy can serve as a valuable legal resource. Having worked on a successful matter together already, Harris said he wouldn’t hesitate to work with Huotari in any situation and is grateful to have a connection to a partner he knows will always have his back.