Cover Story Features

Getting noticed: Sleek Signs thinks big


The Regina skyline may not be as iconic as some cities, but it is distinctive in its own right—thanks to Hill Towers I and II that rise from the rolling prairie as you approach the city from any direction. That prairie, those buildings and the province’s love for football have come together this fall to celebrate the arrival of the 109th Grey Cup in November.

Both towers are showing their appreciation for the country’s biggest football game with two massive murals that cannot be missed. The artwork came together through the work of three companies—Harvard Developments, the Saskatchewan Roughriders, and long-time Regina sign maker, Sleek Signs.

“We are thrilled to host the province of Saskatchewan and CFL fans from across the country to ‘Bring it to the Heartland’ for the 109th Grey Cup and the 2022 Grey Cup Festival,” says Crystal Stus, director of marketing, Saskatchewan Roughrider Football Club. “The Grey Cup Festival theme showcased across the towers, Bring it to the Heartland, reflects Saskatchewan as the heartbeat of the CFL, and the Canadian prairies as the heartland of Canada. It’s the best celebration of the year and we invite you to join us for the first-ever Grey Cup and Festival at Mosaic Stadium.”

Wrapping the Hill Towers took 500-plus hours and involved more than 30 people, covering 216 windows with 10,000 sq. ft of signage. Incredibly, Sleek Signs was able to complete this entire project in under a month. Design, print, training, permits and install in just 28 days. Plus, the project was not without some curveballs. “We dealt with a few issues to get the work done,” says Sleek Signs president and CEO Carl Weger. “The logistics of working around two events—the Regina Farmers Market and the Folk Festival—and dealing with the wind, rain and heat made the timeline even harder, but it all worked out beautifully in the end. Our installers led by Mackenzie Shultz never missed a beat. I couldn’t be prouder to have them on the team.”

“The Grey Cup Festival brings our community and our country together. The creative graphic vinyl wraps on our Hill Centre Towers I and II is a perfect welcome sign for festival goers,” says Rosanne Hill Blaisdell, president and CEO at Harvard Developments Corp. It amplifies the already dynamic Regina downtown skyline. Harvard couldn’t be more honoured to partner with Sleek Signs and the Saskatchewan Roughriders to make this bold statement about The Grey Cup event in Regina.”

Before Sleek Signs was wrapped Regina’s iconic buildings, it was leading the way in large format digital printing from its start.

In the beginning

Sleek Signs, like many of the province’s entrepreneurial ventures, has some humble roots. Launched in a two-car garage in 2006 by Curtis Baylak, Sleek was on the cutting edge from the beginning. Baylak was in the forefront of billboard printing, transit wraps and portable signs, building a company from a dream in a garage to a local leader.

Baylak would be the first to wrap the Hill Towers for the Roughrider Centennial in 2010 which was a massive feat for the company and the towers. “That signage was a major turning point for Sleek, making a mark on the city and the country,” says Weger. “Curtis’s trailblazing work helped us earn the opportunity to wrap the towers again in 2017 for the 150th Canada Day celebration and that experience and knowledge led directly to this project. It all links back to Curtis’s innovation and can-do attitude.”

Change is in the air

By 2013, Baylak was looking for a new opportunity after building his company for several years, and local entrepreneur and investor Brad Hertz was looking for something to participate in. Hertz purchased Sleek Signs in the spring of 2013 and went to work learning the industry and applying his experience in scaling businesses. Hertz’s goal was to build for growth through product innovations, people and processes. Weger joined in July as a sales manager and partner. “I was employee number five, and eventually worked my way into the role of president and CEO,” says Weger. “Today we proudly employ over 40 people in three different cities.”

Weger and Hertz took the helm of the company with Hertz’s vision to grow Sleek signs into a regional print powerhouse. Sleek Signs also added Hertz’s innovative thinking and drive for efficiency and repeatability. Hertz spearheaded investments in new technology, systems and processes and always believes if you are going to do anything you do it right the first time. “If there was an inefficiency in production or a tool Sleek needed, Brad rolled up his sleeves and went to work figuring out a solution,” says Weger.

Growing up

Sleek’s dedication to trust and professionalism, have guided the company to what it is today. With two locations established in Regina and Saskatoon, the company credits its success to the customers that believe in Sleek. “We wouldn’t be here if not for people that saw our potential, our innovative spirit and gave us a chance to learn,” says Weger. He credits Pattison Outdoor, and three members of that team for their belief in Sleek. Pattison’s Terry Morgan, Marilyn King and Estella Tolentino-Cooke saw the scrappy prairie sign company and gave them a chance to prove they could hand the work—and it paid off. “When we started out, I can remember second, third and tenth chances from Terry and some pretty clear phone calls from Estella that set the expectations and helped us progress as a company,” says Weger. “Their patience, direction and trust helped us grow to what we are today.”

Photo provided by Sleek Signs

Closer to home, the Regina Exhibition Association (REAL) also believed in Sleek’s work, and the organization has collaborated with Sleek for years. Sleek Signs is the official signage partner for REAL, partnering on major events and concerts including the Queen City Exhibition, Frost Festival, Canada’s Farm Show and much more. “Chris Hutchinson, Tyler Lloyd and Allison Byrne, all from REAL, have been so great to work with,” says Weger.

More recently, Sleek has had a hand in Regina’s Audacity campaign, helping to recognize and celebrate the city’s entrepreneurial spirit. “We’ve been working with the team at Sleek for years now and have yet to encounter a challenge or opportunity that was too big for them. It’s great having partners that get invested in our vision and that will move mountains to make projects come to life,” says Jeff Boutilier, Ascent Strategy. “Sleek likes to say they ‘print big’—and they do, but they also deliver in a big way as a collaborator and partner you can count on to do it right and care about the details.”

Photo provided by Sleek Signs.

The Sleek team has also handled major signage programs, including Nutrien’s rebrand from Crop Production Services. The company rebranded over 4500 vehicles and trailers for Nutrien locations across three Western provinces—a massive job with a lot of moving parts. “We worked with Nutrien’s Cynthia Deitz on this project, managing with challenging weather, travel and timelines,” says Weger. “Its success is a testament to her trust and our team’s flexibility.”

Seeing the future

Sleek Signs, with its success locally since its start in 2006, is not ready to rest on its laurels. The company has set its sights on Calgary, with plans to take Sleek from a local player to a regional juggernaut. “We’re ready to show Alberta, and Western Canada what we’ve learned,” says Weger. The company’s new location will provide access to and faster shipping for Alberta and British Columbia, and bigger markets for Sleek to show everyone what they do best. “Our slogan is ‘we print big’ but in this case maybe it is better to say we dream big.”

Sign up

Signs are also more than just a way to indicate what’s inside a building, what direction to go, and what’s on sale. They’re also a fantastic marketing tool that can play an integral role in many marketing strategies.

“Signs are a major part of visual communication,” says Weger. “While it can be hard to quantify out-of-home messages, like bus wraps or billboards, they are there to get your message out. That static frequency and saliency is so important.”

Out-of-home advertising can improve brand recognition because of its consistency and perceived legitimacy. It’s far more permanent than digital or social media advertising that can be fleeting and easily ignored. Plus, it can appear in places where it stands out even more. “A bus wrapped in your advertising may be the only marketing that appears in a neighbourhood while it drives around the city,” says Weger. “Your message can be the only one seen when people are enjoying their own neighbourhood. That’s powerful.”