The Story of Pro Signs

The Story of Pro Signs

The Story of Pro Signs

The Beginning:

During World War I, Robert, also known as Bob, entered the world in 1917. Growing up as one of seven children, he faced hardship early on. The Great Depression plunged his family into homelessness and hunger, forcing them to move from one place to another. At the age of 12, Bob moved into his grandparents’ home and began working at their Oyster House in Broomall, PA. It was during his time at the Oyster House that Bob’s passion for art ignited, particularly sparked by the hand-painted signage that he saw painted on the storefront of the Oyster House. This fascination laid the foundation for his future endeavors in the signage industry. Bob’s journey took a turn when he landed a job as a sign letterer at the local grocery store “Food Fair”, where he painted signs showcasing weekly specials. However, fate intervened, and Bob was drafted into World War II in 1941.

Upon his return from the war, Bob resumed his career at “Food Fair”, entering back into the world of signage. Soon after, he ventured into entrepreneurship alongside his brother Chris and brother-in-law Walt, establishing Fernwood Market (their own grocery store). However, Bob’s entrepreneurial spirit led him to forge his own path, leading to the creation of Upper Darby Sign Company in 1947.

Upper Darby Sign Company:

Starting as a specialty shop focusing on hand lettering, The Upper Darby Sign Company flourished under Bob’s leadership. His dedication to the craft attracted local businesses, and the company expanded rapidly. During this time Bob met the love of his life Kay. It was love at first sight and they were engaged within 2 weeks and married by January of 1949. As the business grew, so did Bob’s family. His nine children were actively involved in the shop from a young age, especially his 4 sons. This hinted at a future generation carrying on his legacy.

In the late 60’s, the company evolved, transitioning from hand-painted signs to cutting-edge electric signage and innovative awnings. This was all done in the new 15,000 sq ft facility located in an old Popcorn Factory in Upper Darby. In 1976, the business relocated to a larger facility still in Upper Darby with 25,000 sq ft to expand our Neon Shop and Electric Sign Department, marking a significant milestone in our journey. Bob’s wife Kay and sons Bob Jr, Jack, Vince, and Ed played an integral role in expanding the company. Bob Jr took the reins on ultimately rebranding Upper Darby Sign Company as Pro Signs, paying homage to his father’s military nickname “Pro.”

The late ’90s saw Pro Signs’ relocation to Downingtown, PA into a 50,000 sq ft facility, further solidifying its position as an industry leader. It was in this location where we developed our Channel Letter Capabilities, Electrical Signage skills, incorporated Large Form Digital Printing, and a Downdraft Spray Booth. With continuous growth came new ventures, including the inception of Pro Crane to accommodate the demand for heavy signage installation. Despite his retirement, Bob Sr remained a guiding presence, ensuring the company stayed true to its roots.

In 2009, we moved once more, down the street where we built an 80,000 sq ft facility, symbolizing our enduring success. The larger space gave us the room to expand our storage, increase our machinery (CNC, Vacuum Former, Digital Printer, Mechanical Channel Letter Bender, and more). Bob Sr’s passing in 2008 marked the end of an era, leaving behind a legacy of dedication, resilience, and family values. Today, our company stands tall, celebrating over 75 years of excellence, serving clients nationwide with unwavering commitment to quality and service.

The story of Robert V Protesto is not just a tale of triumph over adversity; it’s a testament to the continuing legacy of passion, perseverance, and the power of family. As Pro Signs continues to thrive, Bob’s spirit lives on, inspiring generations to come.

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