Paul Gable started a small-time sign-painting operation as a teenager in his parents’ Pasadena backyard in 1980, and has since built it into a national firm that provides digital signage to Disney, Under Armour and Universal Studios.
In that time, the company has transformed its offerings from homemade signs for local hardware and grocery stores to massive lighted signs and video billboards for malls, casinos and convention centers. The TransAmerica sign, which sits on the skyline atop Baltimore’s tallest building, is a Gable creation.
But the company won’t ditch its Anne Arundel County roots, its founder said.
“We love the Baltimore region,” the 55-year-old said. “It’s our hometown. We grew up here. We have no plans on leaving the area.”
About 160 of Gable’s 175 employees live within a half-hour of the Pasadena headquarters, Gable said. The company also has offices in Las Vegas; Detroit; Tampa, Fla.; Westhampton, Mass.; and Ringgold, Va.
It plans to hold a job fair from 3 to 7 p.m. Thursday at its Gable Studios for Innovation 6600 Cabot Drive, Suite C in Curtis Bay. Positions are available in account management, digital/AV systems, field tech support, business development, marketing, design, welding and fabrication.
The firm’s growth began after Gable’s younger brother, Matt, joined the business and the brothers began serving real estate developers amid a housing boom in the 1990s. The developers, in many cases, put them in touch with tenants, who, in turn, became new clients, Gable said.
“At that time, the Baltimore-Washington real estate development market was hot and it was growing,” he said. “Because of the business we were in, we were able to grow as well.”
The market for signage has changed over the years. Making them huge, bright and eye-catching remains key, but moving components and digital programming now must be incorporated, all while remembering a building’s architecture, Gable said.
“We became as much a technology company as we were a manufacturing company,” he said. “What once was static is now all about what a sign can say at any given moment.”
That means staying on top of trends and technologies that have changed completely, even in the last five years. Gable likened today’s products to “large-scale architectural, digital wallpaper.”
“Our typical client now wants to incorporate their own broadcast media on their properties,” he said.
That client list has grown to include the Baltimore Ravens, the U.S. Post Office, the Cobo Center in Detroit, Simon Properties, Starbucks, and the Live and Horseshoe Baltimore casinos.
Gable said he’s succeeded in large part due to the commitment of its employees. The company caters about a dozen lunches and other meals for the workers, during which they talk as little as possible about work, he said.
“It builds a sense of family,” Gable said. “It’s important to have those same traits and values, especially when we count on each other so much.”