Katrina Beatty and Paul Dudley see signs wherever they look.
Not the mystic kinds, of course, but rather physical signs that build brands and improve the total customer experience. As co-founders of ID Signsystems, they have created an internationally recognized design-build company specializing in signage and lighting for retail, healthcare, and institutional markets.
Just look at the skyline of downtown Rochester to see their huge sign for Five Star Bank. Stroll by the Strong Museum of Play to enjoy the signage showcasing the beloved destination. Find your way easily through institutions like Syracuse University and Strong Memorial Hospital by following clear directional and informational guides. Admire the beautiful changing colors of lighting that enhances the architecture of One East Avenue, while supporting Gallina Development’s sustainability efforts.
Now visit an H & M store anywhere in the world. Katrina, Paul and their current team of 35 employees are creating lightboxes for the retail clothing giant to enhance the customer experience. A client for the last decade, H & M originally engaged ID Signsystems to produce exterior signage and then interior navigation.
One of the keys to its growth has been the company’s ability to react to shifting market trends and client needs. That means they are in constant learning mode, a core value that led Katrina to become a graduate of TEN’s first Women’s Business Accelerator (WBA) last year. The second WBA is currently in session.
“As a business owner, I don’t want to stop learning,” says Katrina. “WBA enabled me to think about parts of my business that need more focus. Additionally, being with other awesome women entrepreneurs was very stimulating and gave me lots of ideas. “ She also cited the caliber of coaching and instructors, specifically the sharing of practical experience.
In many ways, she has found running her women-certified business not unlike what she offers clients – a combination of art and science. For example, ID Signsystems specializing in wayfinding, which is essentially the science of navigating through a building with the least amount of aggravation. That expertise is what she brings to campuses, museums, and medical facilities throughout the country. But the trick is to add the aesthetic element that also promotes her clients’ brands. That’s where the art comes in.
ID Signsystems started in 2005 as the brainchild of the husband and wife team who met in New York City and share a sophisticated and cosmopolitan approach to design. Paul, who is British, has traveled and worked extensively throughout Europe.
Their initial concept for the company was to be a U.S. distributor of European signage products. Soon they were sought out for their own designs with a particular specialty in adapting European brands and products to the U.S. market. Their foundation client was Swedish-based H & M, and then they worked hard to diversify into other markets.
The company also made the unusual decision to do the actual build-out of signage and lighting in their Atlantic Avenue facility. “Manufacturing our own signage and lighting is a very important differentiator from our competitors,” explains Katrina. “It gives us control over quality and scheduling. It also allows for a great deal of innovation and creativity. These are important benefits for our clients who need the best quality and freshest ideas.”
Constantly Looking to the Future
Her core customer segments are all seeing significant changes in how they do business, and ID Signsystems is taking the lead on helping them navigate new environments.
For example, retail stores are becoming more experiential to survive against online competition. As a solution, her company is using lighting to draw customers into interactive and theatrical experiences. For example, ID Signsystems is currently designing, display systems for H&M, lightboxes for GUESS and showroom lighting for Cadillac dealerships to beautifully display the cars with a lighting solution that does not cast a shadow.
In health care, they are helping create better patient experiences, a critical competitive differentiator for the industry. This has led to the development and sales of their patented Communication Board Systems, a tool for transparent communication among patients, caregivers, non-care giving staff, and visitors. Among the many hospitals currently using the system are Brigham & Women’s Hospital, Kettering Medical Center, and the University of Rochester Medical Center.
No matter where they go in the future, Katrina is sure about a few things. First, ID Signsystems will always focus on designs that are beautiful and functional. Second, their clients can always count on them for high-end ideas and sound manufacturing experience. And third, they will let the world know that their solutions are proudly “Designed and built in Rochester, New York.”