It’s a Sign: Last-minute purchase of Tran Sign keeps this historical business on the Island

Photo By: Jeffrey Bosdet.

When the owners of LaneLight Traffic Technologies received notice that their long-time supplier, Tran Sign, was going out of business, they stepped up. Within weeks, CEO Stephanie Carr and executive director Glenn Radford had finalized the purchase of a historic local business.

“It has always been a good company, had a good reputation and has been the go-to place for signage,” says Carr. “And it has a history. If it didn’t have that recognition, it would have been just another sign company.”

Tran Sign, formerly known as the BC Provincial Sign Shop, was initially established by the BC provincial government in 1947 to manufacture and supply all the traffic signs for B.C.’s roads and highways. At the time, these signs were completely hand-painted. 

Tran Sign was purchased by its employees in 1988 and continues to supply signage to clients like the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure, BC Transit and LaneLight, whose LED-enhanced warning systems are embedded in stop bars, mid-block crosswalks, roundabouts, heritage areas, school zones.

In February, Carr and Radford received notice that Tran Sign was being acquired by a mainland company, and would move their operations off the Island and jobs would be lost. 

“People didn’t realize the impact that would have.” says Carr, of a model that would experience drawbacks if removed from direct client relations. “It would be hard to keep up with local business — where people are coming in to ask questions. And the company was always dropping things off all over the city.”

So they bought it. 

The pre-existing relationship between LaneLight and Tran Sign enabled them to make a quick offer and strike a deal that pointed them in the right direction— Tran Sign stayed on the Island and got to keep its name, staff, location and history.