West Coast’s Signlink is a testament to resilience and growth under the astute leadership of its director Antony Merriman and his devoted team.
Their rise to prominence is remarkable, especially given the devastating setback they faced only seven years ago — a fire that almost wiped them out.
In the wee hours of March 4, 2016, a fire erupted in a commercial building in Hokitika. It took an exhaustive two-hour effort from 20 firefighters to tame the aggressive flames.
Reflecting on those tough times, Antony, who took over the reins a year later, said, “The company was back on its feet in a week, all thanks to the generous support of the community, suppliers, and fellow sign writers. The burden was enormous on the employees, prompting Tony Arnold, the former owner, to sell.”
With Arnold’s support, Antony ventured into the sign-making industry, an enterprise that saw Tony staying on for three additional years.
Signlink prides itself on offering comprehensive sign services, including design, manufacturing, installation, 3D router cut graphics, full or partial vehicle wraps, illuminated signage, and end-to- end project management. It also excels in apparel branding, offering sublimation, embroidery, or screen printing for corporate wear, hi-vis safety gear, and sports team uniforms.
The company scaled rapidly, initially operating with a team of eight.
Recounting the recent expansion, Antony said, “Last year, we branched out to Greymouth, which not only allowed for a better business model but also opened avenues for growth. Our previous setup was becoming inefficient due to high demand. The new location, a smaller one, complements our larger sign shop effectively.”
The dual facility arrangement offers the added benefit of measuring efficiency and allocating resources to ensure optimal productivity.
Commenting on the nascent Greymouth branch, Antony said, “Though it’s only six months old and heavily dependent on the Hokitika branch, we see promising organic growth.”
The Signlink team, now 13-strong, is the backbone of the company’s success. Merriman’s commitment to nurturing talent shines through his apprenticeship initiatives. Jacob McClenaghan, an apprentice, was recognised as Apprentice of the Year 2022 at the recent NZSDA Awards.
Celebrating this accomplishment, Antony said, “Jacob’s transformation has been incredible. His passion and diligence have moulded him into an expert sign writer, particularly skilled at vehicle wrapping.”
Signlink, under Antony’s six-year leadership, has etched an indelible mark in the industry, gaining respect within the NZSDA community. It was awarded the Silver Medal at the 2018 NZSDA Awards for brand interpretation work for a local business, incorporating diverse mediums and formats.
Antony lauds the NZSDA’s invaluable contributions, “The NZSDA has been instrumental in our growth, and I cherish the connections made through this network over the years. It has provided critical guidance and support, particularly while navigating important business decisions.”
The future looks bright for Signlink, with Antony’s wife, Laura, joining to expand the apparel service. They aim to also concentrate on growing the Greymouth business.
Concluding with a forward-looking vision, Antony said, “We have an in-house CNC router. Acquiring a laser cutter and creating a fabrication shop are potential future steps. The upcoming years look promising with endless opportunities surrounding signwriting.”