The COVID-19 pandemic has forced many businesses in the U.S. to adapt, but for Mid-State Signs in central Montana, expanding and adapting is their specialty.
The town of Winifred, with a population of just under 200 in Fergus County, is home to Mid-State Signs, one of the most prolific wholesale sign businesses in the northwestern U.S.
The company has been around since 2009, and makes just about any of kind of sign, from channel lettering and electric signs to reader boards and car wraps. Equipped with state of the art technology and a personalized approach, they even do business for other sign companies.
Owner Gordon Wichman explained, "When we when we started the business, the main focus was kind of retail. And quickly we shifted into wholesale because we realized that we were having equipment that nobody else had, and that fits our needs a lot better, being remote."
Since 2009, Mid-State has only gotten bigger. It now has ten full-time employees, and you can find their work in Idaho, Wyoming, the Dakotas, and as far away as Arkansas and Ohio. It’s also gotten more diverse. In the last two years, they've added a coffee shop and new retail floor, more production space in the basement, and even three apartment units. And now with COVID-19, there’s a new market: facemasks.
Wichman said, "I hate going into stores with people when they all have masks on because it might be somebody I know, but I don't recognize them. So we needed to print a face onto a mask or something. So that's kind of where it came from."
And business is booming; Wichman said, "We’re doing them for events, we're doing them for different companies, everybody, you know, if you have if you have to supply masks for your employees, a lot of companies are having us put their the name of their company on the mask. And they might do two or three masks for each employee, that kind of thing. So we're having orders instead of one or two or three. We're having orders 100, 200 at a time."