Helping Community, Promoting Women in EGD Fabrication: Gelberg Signs

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SEGD member firm Gelberg Signs has been fabricating signs nationally from their Washington D.C. headquarters for over 80 years. Aside from creating quality products, the company is known for promoting altruistic causes, including the support of neighboring businesses and organizations during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic—something to be thankful for during this Thanksgiving season! Read on to learn more about this progressive firm, including Gelberg’s work on supporting women in leadership positions.

The Washington DC Chamber of Commerce recently named Gelberg Signs “Business of the Year.” Among the reasons were their efforts to help struggling companies and organizations during the COVID-19 crisis, and also the firm’s dedication to diversifying its own workforce. This small business with over 100 employees has left its mark on DC, not just in the signage Gelberg fabricates for many of the city’s historic and iconic sites, including Nationals Ball Park and the National African American Museum of History and Culture, but also in its support of the local community.

Helping Community
At the height of the pandemic, when many small businesses were suffering, Gelberg reached out by donating signs to these neighbors—including local restaurants and retail shops—to help them stay operational during the quarantine. They donated signs to let customers know that these enterprises were still open for business. 

“Our vision is to exceed the expectations of our clients, employees and the community”, says Guy Brami, Principal. “Without the support of local residents and businesses, Gelberg would have a difficult time surviving. Acknowledging this fact during the past 18 months, we saw even more opportunities to lend our support”

Gelberg also supported nonprofits during the COVID lockdown; the company donated 5,000 signs to the DC Black History Celebration Committee in support of the DC Black Fathers Matter Project. The firm also participated in the Feed the Fridge initiative, decorating 22 refrigerators placed at recreation centers, schools, and other locations. These fridges provided free meals for those in need.

Additionally, Gelberg implemented a new in-house policy offering up to eight hours of paid volunteer time for its employees. This allowed staff to become more involved in their local communities with company support.

Promoting Women in EGD Fabrication
Within the world of experiential graphic design (EGD), sign fabrication has traditionally been a male dominated field. However Gelberg is unique in this regard. The company currently employs women at nearly double the industry standard of 10 percent, with 60 percent of its production management team being female.

“Gelberg includes every step in the process, from design, fabrication, installation & service, sales, project management, and engineering, we are your one stop signage provider,” says Sasha Clarke, Executive Facilitator at Gelberg Signs. “Our talented female production management staff starts at the top, and staff helps oversee this process”

Production Manager Nancy Davis has been with the company for over twenty years. She rose from receptionist to Production Manager and represents the industry knowledge and dedication that runs through many of Gelberg’s staff and managers.

“I like the fact that I can see a sign from start to finish, from first drawings to final product,” says Nancy. “It’s very creative, and I love the process. It’s fun to see it.”

An important part of Gelberg career development is training new staff in different types of fabrication techniques. That’s where managers Lauren Bowen, Nathaly Ortiz and Leonor Vocal excel. Nathaly began her career as a signage installer before being promoted to  a management position. Nathaly oversees Gelberg’s plastics division and Leonor manages vinyl production, while Lauren is an assistant Production Manager.

“Women are often innate teachers, they want the people around them to understand,” Sasha said in a recent CBS interview. “They want the people around them to feel capable to rise to the next level. We have been doing a lot of trainings and more one-on-one capacity building.”

Gelberg’s success at diversifying their workforce and assisting other organizations during the pandemic, has also benefited the company, helping it to grow even more.

Want to learn more about Gelberg Signs? Check out their website