Brooks brother's signs a family affair by Charles Williams
Taken from The Post & Courier | Monday, March 13, 1995
Tommy and Wally Brooks' clients read like a Who's who of Charleston area real estate and construction firms.
They include, but are not limited to, Hill Construction Corp., Joe Griffith Realtors, Batten & Tarrant Realtors and
Beazer Construction. "We do a lot of real estate construction signs", said Tommy brooks, who co-owns Brooks
Signs along with his brother, Wally.
The company, at 287 Huger Street, is celebrating its 15th year in business. It has grown considerably since it
first began. "Our sales have grown tenfold in 15 years," said Tommy, who wouldn't disclose sales figures. "We're
always there when you need us." The brothers make signs not only for real estate and construction businesses,
but they also create vehicle graphics, banners and signs for small business. "If you call it a sign we can probably
make it," Tommy said. Business was a little slow at first for the brothers, but that all began to change. "Business
began to pick up in the second year and has been steadily increasing ever since.
The cost of doing business has increased over the years, but we are constantly looking for new ways to keep
prices reasonable," Tommy said. The brothers split duties. Tommy handles the new business while Wally
manages the shop. Wally is also in charge of Realtors' signs. "We've got about 400 around town, "Tommy said.
Their mother , Willene Brooks also is involved. "mother does the bookkeeping," Tommy said. They started the
business after Tommy graduated from the Art Institute of Atlanta and was working for a local sign company.
Wally was running a night club called Big Wally's Carriage House on North Market Street. Wally was weary of the
nightclub life, and Tommy wanted to be his own boss. "He was tired of those crazy hours," Tommy said.
The brothers are native Charlestonians who graduated from St. Andrew's high School. Being from here gives
them a distinct advantage, Tommy said. "We grew up here in South Windermere. Just being in the area for 40
years is a help. We know a lot of people," Tommy said. When they first went into business, there were ten other
sign companies in the area. Now there are 70. It's because of computers," Tommy said. "They're franchise sign
companies that open up in strip shopping centers and knock out quick signs. Our success is based on the fact
that most of those places don't know anything about signs. "We've seen sign companies come and go. I've done
hand lettered signs for 17 years, and we have a full time artist on staff." but computers have helped their
operation, too - 75 percent of their signs are done by computer, and the rest are hand-painted.
Computers have been a big technological change, Tommy said."Once we decided in that direction, we wondered
why we didn't do that before. It really has increased our response time. Now you can get a fairly quick sign done,
sometimes that same day." They have since gone into the rental business, having acquired some property
downtown. "We bought the old Condon's warehouse on Warren Street in 1984. We moved into that and operated
it and bought the house next to that. We have an upstairs and downstairs rental there," Tommy said.
But with business growing, the brothers realized they needed a larger place for their operations. "We bought the
Kronesberg property on Huger Street in 1988 and lease out a portion of it to Palmetto Brewing and to Image
Network, a screen-printing company." The company's sales aren't the only thing that has grown. "We started
out in a 900 sq ft building, and we are now in over 8,000 sq ft," Tommy said.