News Archives - Kieffer | Starlite

Employee Spotlights | Fay Hermes

Employee Spotlight: Fay Hermes

At Kieffer | Starlite, the success of our company is driven by the passion and dedication of our employees. We pride ourselves on having a work environment where our team can thrive, share ideas, and help us evolve. Our key differentiator is our team and the passion they have to be the best in our industry!

Today our Employee Spotlight showcases Fay Hermes. Known for her dedication, Fay is a valued member of the Kieffer | Starlite team. She has been with our company for 29 years and is always willing to assist with questions and support our team with a positive attitude. Read more about Fay and her experience at Kieffer | Starlite.

Role at Kieffer | Starlite: Production Processor

What is a typical day for you at Kieffer | Starlite?  A typical day starts with a plan as to what needs to be accomplished in what order on the Processing Report. At the same time handling phone calls, emails, and issues from the shop floor. My job supports the processing of Jobs, so shop supervisors can schedule staff-hours for manufacturing, purchasing,  material allocations to procure materials for manufacturing, and job closing so orders can be invoiced.

What do you enjoy most about Kieffer | Starlite? I enjoy working with all my co-workers at Kieffer l Starlite and training and helping team members. I like the support and guidance we are given from upper management. I enjoy my job because no day is ever the same.

What do you find most challenging about your job? Typical challenges include missing information and incomplete drawings to start production. Ensuring the job starts and is completed on time to meet shipping dates.

A new challenge we are working on is cross-training our teams to improve our processes at all manufacturing locations, which will result in a more balanced workload for our teams.

What do you enjoy in your spare time? I enjoy craft projects, working on our home, spending time with family and friends, and traveling to warm tropical places in winter.

Bucket List Item: Retirement –I have been at Kieffer | Starlite 29 years, so when the time comes, I am sure it will be bittersweet.

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Lean Manufacturing through Opportunity for Improvements Process

8.18.20 – Kieffer | Starlite is taking an aggressive approach adapting to lean manufacturing methodologies across all manufacturing facilities to continue to improve enterprise-wide operations. There are many benefits to lean manufacturing that result in reduced waste, material efficiencies, and cost savings that directly benefit the customers we serve.

While developing this lean manufacturing culture, which may originate from our executive leadership downward, it truly works in the opposite direction. Our team members on the floor are the ones that get full credit for making actual change happen as they are involved with daily fabrication and everyday processes. This involvement creates the opportunity to see first-hand areas where we can create efficiencies and eliminate waste. To foster these ideas, it simply takes developing a platform to listen to these ideas, take Action, Implement then Sustain. One key element for this to happen is what is called an OFI – Opportunity For Improvement. This gives the team members a chance to put on paper an idea they have for a positive change to a process that creates stepping stones to creating improvements at Kieffer | Starlite.

Specific to our Mt. Airy, North Carolina location, they have implemented and are taking action to create a lean manufacturing culture to develop a sustainable future for Kieffer | Starlite. The OFI is just one of the many ways our staff is approaching continuous improvements. OFI forms are present throughout our facilities and regularly collected for the OFI facilitators to review and ACT as applicable.

As an incentive and reward to recognize the value of each idea received, each team member that submits an idea no matter where it leads receives a simple gift card showing we appreciate them and their willingness to help us change. Even though not all ideas are grand slams, you win by hitting those singles over and over, and they add up quickly.

We would like to recognize the following team members – Josh Slate and Chris Marshall – that have submitted their ideas and sincerely thank them for their contributions to Kieffer | Starlite. Also in recognition would be there immediate supervisor Jason Marshall for his help in this role. We look forward to continuing to see this program create improvements for our entire organization.

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Employee Spotlights | Bonnie Herman

Employee Spotlight: Bonnie Herman

At Kieffer | Starlite, the success of our company is driven by the passion and dedication of our employees. We pride ourselves on having a work environment where our team can thrive, share ideas, and help us evolve. Our key differentiator is our team and the passion they have to be the best in our industry!

Today our Employee Spotlight showcases Bonnie Herman. Known for her dedication, Bonnie is a valued member of the Kieffer | Starlite team. She can manage various challenges faced day to day while maintaining a positive attitude and supporting the daily needs within her department. Read more about Bonnie and her experience at Kieffer | Starlite.

Role at Kieffer | Starlite: Accounting Associate

What is a typical day for you at Kieffer | Starlite?  First of all, no day is typical…I would call it a ‘juggling act’! I begin each day with a plan and set my priorities as to what needs to be accomplished. As you all well know, that soon changes as soon as I open my email. Unlike the Client Services team, my immediate customers are mostly internal. I spend my day gathering payments, invoicing our customers, processing AR adjustments, filing monthly sales tax returns and answering emails as promptly as possible so as not to stop other people from performing their job duties.

What do you enjoy most about Kieffer | Starlite? I like the fact that you can easily communicate with any person in the company no matter what level of management they are in. I like the variety of responsibilities that my job offers. I am never bored, and I am always busy! Since I have been with Kieffer for 17 years, I like being able to help others understand and learn some of the processes. On the flip-side, I also like the fact that people are always willing to help me when I have questions. There is always something new to learn.

What do you find most challenging about your job? I would say the most challenging part of my job is trying to keep up with the workload and meeting deadlines at the end of the month. I like to be a ‘people-pleaser’ so sometimes I set unrealistic goals that add to the daily challenges of answering emails.

What do you enjoy in your spare time? I love the outdoors! Weekends are spent up north at our cabin in Crivitz, exploring different parks, waterfalls, and hiking. I like to relax on our pontoon boat or in front of a campfire with friends and a few glasses of wine!

Bucket List Item: I look forward to retirement someday to spend more time with my four grandchildren (soon to be five!) and to travel to other parts of the United States. My son-in-law is in the military, so there will always be somewhere to visit. My husband and I would especially like to go back to Jackson Hole, Wyoming, where we spent our honeymoon 35 years ago in a cabin with a perfect view of the Teton Mountains.

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Celebrating 64 years in the Sign Industry

7.15.20 – We are pleased to announce our company is celebrating our 64th anniversary. Over that time, we have established a reputation as a company that offers innovative sign products, superior customer service, and competitive pricing. The anniversary comes as we have continued to show our versatility by helping clients meet their signage and safety needs during the ongoing COVID-19 crisis.

Company President Kevin Hofert has been with the company since 2005 and says, “We have some extraordinary members of our team with tenures at Kieffer | Starlite over 25 years. They not only advocate for our industry, but they also create a high standard for production methods and product quality for our company. We have strived as a company to create the best in quality products to meet the design look and performance to meet the market demands and help brands stand out. One of our fundamental abilities to have the staying power in a crowded industry is our dedicated team—their knowledge and passion for supporting our customers set us apart.”

Hofert recalls a recent example when a customer needed to make a change to their exterior sign. “A client from a large hotel brand had approved the sign design, and we were in the production process. A last-minute brand update was announced, and they called immediately to see if they could implement the latest standard. Our team communicated quickly, went out to the production floor, and was able to stop the project before production had gone too far. It is that service and desire to help our customers that have allowed us to be in business for 64 years. We also forecast new methods, technology, and adapt as needed with the market.”

Our company history dates back to the 1950s with Starlite Signs and Kieffer & Co. Our company has grown over the years and operates four locations in the U.S. We ensure best practices are repeatable across all facilities. Each facility brings a unique production element to the table, and our expansion over the years was strategic to bring those capabilities under one umbrella. Our North Carolina manufacturing facility produces some of the best-thermoformed products we see in the industry. Our Texas manufacturing facility has amazing neon capabilities. And our Wisconsin manufacturing facility fabricates cutting edge products, with large scale production capabilities. Together we combine and deliver to meet market demands and look forward to many more years ahead. Follow us on LinkedIn or Facebook to learn more about our company’s activities!

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Employee Spotlights | Marina Nuckles

Employee Spotlight: Marina Nuckles

At Kieffer | Starlite, the success of our company is driven by the passion and dedication of our employees. We pride ourselves on having a work environment where our team can thrive, share ideas, and help us evolve. Our key differentiator is our team and the passion they have to be the best in our industry!

Today our Employee Spotlight showcases Marina Nuckles. Known for her positive attitude, Marina is a valued member of the Kieffer | Starlite team. She can manage various challenges faced day to day while adapting quickly and meeting client expectations. Read more about Marina and her experience at Kieffer | Starlite.

Role at Kieffer | Starlite: Client Services Senior Coordinator

What is a typical day for you at Kieffer | Starlite?  Working in the sign business, I have come to the realization that there is no typical day. Every day is a new challenge or a new, “Oh I haven’t heard of that one.” Which I enjoy, because I am always learning and gaining new experiences. On a day to day basis I do communicate with customers and vendors to make sure the customer has everything they need from us in order to move to the next stage in the process, or complete a location.

What do you enjoy most about Kieffer | Starlite? The people. Everyone is very supportive and willing to help if you reach out and ask. There never seemed to be a dull moment when we were in the office.

What do you find most challenging about your job? There are different aspects of the job that we cannot control, I would say that is the most challenging. The job wouldn’t be enjoyable though if the challenges didn’t exist, makes the day go by faster too.

What do you enjoy in your spare time? Watching LIVE sports, when we were able to do that, visiting local breweries, and just hanging out at home with my fiancée and dogs.

Bucket List Item: One day I hope to own a home on a bunch of land, away from everyone, and out of Illinois.

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Key Considerations for a New Exterior Sign

Key Considerations for implementing a new exterior signage and branding program.

Working with an experienced signage partner is essential, and it can make a huge difference in the success of your signage implementation. Our team is known as experts in exterior signage. Our company has been in business for 64 years, and most of our team members are considered “sign dogs.” Industry translation, have a passion for signs, and once we work in this industry, we don’t want to leave!

As a national sign company, we receive a wide range of questions relating to new signs and existing signs. Whether these are due to previous challenges or seeking a more effective approach, we created a list based on common questions from sign manufacturing to sign permitting. In no particular order, here are the top 5 considerations when implementing a new exterior sign and branding program.

  1. Start Early. Before you begin building, know your signage goals. Have a signage company advise on what the city will allow prior to building. Zoning can often affect sign code. Understanding a municipality’s signage restrictions, as they pertain to your specific site, could lead to changes in a building’s design that would allow for a bigger sign. It is also important to plan ahead at the time of building and ensure power is installed in the correct location if your sign will be illuminated. Listen to our podcast on an example that included a roofline issue that wasn’t identified pre-build.
  2. Lighting Ordinances. Consider if a city has any illumination restrictions such as Dark Sky ordinances and what would be constitute lighting pollution. This impacts the design and lighting solution implemented. We had a client who had to flip to neon from LED to achieve the desired look while meeting light pollution guidelines. However, some municipalities prohibit the use of neon.
  3. Production Timeline. Production of the signage should not start until permit approval is granted.  This approval timeline needs to be taken into consideration in your planning. This could result in time and cost savings in the event that changes need to be made to bring your signs into compliance.  If a company says the sign can be manufactured and installed in 6 weeks, keep in mind that the clock doesn’t start until all permits and drawings are approved.
  4. Variances. If the city has restrictions that affect your desired signage program, apply for a variance. A well-planned argument can work in your favor to achieve the sign you want. Do not settle if something is critical to your signage program; try to seek a variance if you can prove a hardship and provide research that supports your request.
  5. Stand Out. For most businesses, signage is a clear differentiator and attracts more business. Look for simple yet effective ways to stand out. This could be a unique sign design, interesting lighting application, adding an awning, or a vinyl application to the storefront windows. Review the signage materials specified to ensure you can create the right look and withstand elements to maximize longevity.

For questions on your national signage or local signage needs, contact us here.

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Employee Spotlights | Mark Kubick

Employee Spotlight: Mark Kubick

At Kieffer | Starlite, the success of our company is driven by the passion and dedication of our employees. We pride ourselves on having a work environment where our team can thrive, share ideas, and help us evolve. Our key differentiator is our team and the passion they have to be the best in our industry!

Today our Employee Spotlight showcases Mark Kubick. Known for his dedication and expertise, Mark has been with Kieffer | Starlite for 34 years. He goes above and beyond to deliver outstanding service and receives positive client feedback for the difference he makes for their signage program! Read more about Mark and his experience at Kieffer | Starlite.

Role at Kieffer | Starlite: Designer

What is a typical day for you at Kieffer | Starlite? After working in this business a while a day becomes typical. I start out with the design requests that I know I need to complete for the day, then I get the ones that need to be done during the day that are urgent and I didn’t know about. I like the urgent requests, it breaks up the day and makes it go faster.

What do you enjoy most about Kieffer | Starlite? I enjoy working with our design group/client services & engineering team, I like to say that we are all professionals. I would say that the work atmosphere is informal and easy going and always has been which is why I have been here all these years.

What do you find most challenging about your job? When I start a project I’m given a lot of information, usually but not always. The challenging part is putting it all together into a comprehensive package in the most timely manner possible. I have to keep in mind that this is first a sales presentation, but then a drawing gets reviewed by a lot of other people from Landlords to City’s & finally it will make it’s way to manufacturing, so there has to be enough information to pass all these hurdles.

What do you enjoy in your spare time? When I get spare time I like going to a nature setting for hiking or just hanging out. I also enjoy fishing, horseback riding, gardening & the occasional home improvement projects.

Bucket List Item: I always wanted to visit the great pyramids at Giza in Egypt, for some reason they have always intrigued me.

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Spotlight on Illinois Sign Association’s Board of Directors Appointed Vice President

6.1.20 – Kieffer | Starlite and the Illinois Sign Association is pleased to recognize Henry Van De Werken and his role with ISA as the current Vice President. Henry has served on the ISA board for over eight years and continues to play a vital role within the organization.

Van De Werken, along with the other board members, keeps a pulse on the industry and creates a valuable resource for the industry from solving challenges, education, and lobbying for sign code change. Van De Werken comments, “Serving the Illinois Sign Association in various roles over the years has given me an opportunity to work side-by-side with many talented and passionate sign professionals on worthwhile initiatives, making a positive difference and allowing me to give back to the industry in a meaningful way.”

Van De Werken is the Director of Manufacturing – Sheyboygan for Kieffer | Starlite. His industry knowledge and role in manufacturing management allows for Kieffer | Starlite to continue to set the bar for quality products, along with innovative ways to solve customer needs. The company is honored to have a leader and advocate as part of their team, as he continually makes an impact within their organization.

Russ Salzman, Executive Director for ISA, notes the importance and strength of its committee members. Anyone can join ISA; it is not limited to Illinois companies only, which contributes to membership growth as a result of the strength of our network and committee members. He comments, “Having Henry Van De Werken as part of our executive committee has been integral to the overall strength of ISA. He brings a wealth of knowledge and demonstrates a helpful approach to troubleshooting industry issues. He has been involved with ISA for over 15 years, and we project he will continue to move up within our executive committee.”

About Illinois Sign Association
The Illinois Sign Association is the leading resource for sign, graphics, and visual communication industry professionals in meeting the needs of their clients and the communities they serve. Founded in 1969, and an affiliate of the International Sign Association, ISA is an association comprised of sign companies, sign users, sign supply distributors, sign manufacturers, and manufacturer representatives. All strive to advocate for the industry and to provide the latest information and newest technologies, effective business strategies, and legislative developments that impact the industry.

About Kieffer | Starlite
Kieffer | Starlite is a leading national sign manufacturer and consultant throughout the US, providing quality solutions for a wide range of markets. They have a team comprised of seasoned designers, project managers, engineers, installers, and consultants who are focused on providing the best customer experience in the industry. Supporting signage and branding needs since 1959, they have the expertise you can trust. They also offer signage and lighting maintenance programs locally and nationwide.

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Employee Spotlights | Julie Cindric

Employee Spotlight: Julie Cindric

At Kieffer | Starlite, the success of our company is driven by the passion and dedication of our employees. We pride ourselves on having a work environment where our team can thrive, share ideas, and help us evolve. Our key differentiator is our team and the passion they have to be the best in our industry!

Today our Employee Spotlight showcases Julie Cindric.  Julie is recognized for continually going above and beyond to meet client deadlines. Her dedication and skillsets combine to overcome obstacles and keep schedules on track! Read more about Julie and her experience at Kieffer | Starlite.

Role at Kieffer | Starlite: Senior Client Services Coordinator

What is a typical day for you at Kieffer | Starlite? There really is no typical day, and that’s one of the reasons I enjoy working at Kieffer | Starlite. You have to be quick on your feet, as you may have to completely change your focus – not only from location but to a completely different customer.

What do you enjoy most about Kieffer | Starlite? Kieffer | Starlite has provided me the opportunity to return to a company that I really enjoyed working for. Having been gone for 8 years, it’s great to come back to a team that knows how to work together and support each other. While there are some familiar faces, there are many new ones, but the overall feeling is as it always was. And everyone is working together for the same common goal – not only satisfying the customers’ needs but exceeding their expectations.

What do you find most challenging about your job? The most challenging part of my job is also the most rewarding, and that is joining an existing account team and having to become knowledgeable about all aspects of the account. Building rapport with the customer and getting them to trust you is as important as product and job knowledge. You know you’ve succeeded when your co-workers can’t remember who worked on the account before you.

What do you enjoy in your spare time? I like to take advantage of the year-round sunshine by kayaking, running, and going to the beach.

Bucket List Item: I want to own an oceanfront home in a small, coastal town.

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Employee Spotlights | Kipp Casstevens

Employee Spotlight: Kipp Casstevens

At Kieffer | Starlite, the success of our company is driven by the passion and dedication of our employees. We pride ourselves on having a work environment where our team can thrive, share ideas, and help us evolve. Our key differentiator is our team and the passion they have to be the best in our industry!

Today our Employee Spotlight showcases Kipp Casstevens. Kipp is recognized for going above and beyond for helping our teams transition from the office to working remotely. He worked quickly and had a positive attitude to support all teams! Read more about Kipp and his experience at Kieffer | Starlite.

Role at Kieffer | Starlite: IT System Admin

What is a typical day for you at Kieffer | Starlite? Every day is a new challenge. My number one priority is rising to meet expectations to keep everyone working to the best of their ability. This ensures my coworkers can create signage that our clients can be proud of. In the IT industry, things are constantly evolving. Keeping up with any developments while continuing to implement modern systems to keep our company up to date is merely scratching the surface. Change keeps the mind sharp.

What do you enjoy most about Kieffer | Starlite? My coworkers are an absolute delight to work with. You can really feel the energy walking through the offices showing that everyone is working towards the same goal; we all want the others to succeed. Being around like-minded individuals who share in my sense of fulfillment really drives me to strive above and beyond in my role for my peers.

What do you find most challenging about your job? Currently, it is supporting my coworkers that are working from home. Attempting to mimic the feel of the office from home is a daunting task.  Our team has been working on this consistently to allow people to perform as best they can given the situation.

What do you enjoy in your spare time? I enjoy spending time with my wife and our dogs, binge watching our favorite television series whenever the time allows, and a game of Rook with a solid partner is an excellent weekend night. Of course, given my profession, I’m almost obligated to enjoy video games as well.

Bucket List Item: I’d love to travel to Rome and visit various historical sites like the colosseum, the pantheon, and of course, Vatican City.

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