By Eric Peterson | Jun 14, 2015
Salt Lake City, Utah
Signs and Awnings
Salt Lake City (with facilities in Ogden and Springville)
Employees: 74 (52 in Salt Lake, 10 in Ogden, 12 in Springville)
Collard started the company with her parents, Duane and Glenda Millard, buying out a small awning company. "Dad and I wanted to go into business together," says Collard. "We pooled our resources together and bought that tiny shop."
The company did $87,000 in business that first year and soon expanded into signs. Two acquisitions later, sales hit $8 million in 2014.
"We've grown like crazy," says Collard. More than 70 percent of the business is now signage; awnings represent about 20 percent.
But the sweet spot is both. "We believe our niche is signage and awning combinations," says Collard, citing work for restaurant chains like Applebee's and Utah's very own Café Zupas, which is expanding into Minnesota soon. "It's kind of fun when you have a customer expand into other states and want you to follow them," says Collard.
Allied also specializes in conversions during rebranding, as was the case when about 20 Gold's Gym locations became VASA Fitness in 2014.
"We're really pushing larger scale projects," says Collard. "We've done a few, but we're ready to bust loose."
Collard says the company's biggest project to date was about $500,000, but she's looking to land some even bigger fish in the $1 million-plus category.
LEDs are the company's standard for signage lighting, about a third more energy efficient and incentivized by the state. "Neon was the big thing -- talk about labor-intensive and expensive," says Collard. LEDs are "revolutionizing” signage with color-changing capabilities.
Allied also uses aluminum for almost every sign it makes, and uses CNC routers and Accu-Bend cutters to improve consistency in what Collard describes as a very manual industry. "A lot of people are doing everything by hand."
Routers allows Allied to create "kits," says Collard. With Accu-Bend, she adds, "You can duplicate things over and over and make them exactly the same."
Allied also makes golf simulators for Centerville-based TruGolf, a project with started with stitching screens together and expanded as the company realized Allied's broad capabilities.
About 85 percent of Allied's sales are in Utah, and the company is also licensed in Colorado, Wyoming, Idaho, and Nevada. "We love Vegas," says Collard. "We've been there for 15 years."
"Our goal is $10 million," says Collard. "We'd like to be there by our 25th anniversary" -- three years away in 2018. She says she's looking into growing by acquisition and also is bringing in a marketing director to help raise Allied's profile.
Collard sees the new hire as the perfect complement to what she characterizes as an excellent team at Allied. "We've got some great VPs and great managers here," she says.
A recent retreat at Homestead Resort in Midway, Utah, cemented her opinion of Allied's staffers. "It was all about productivity and working for common goals."
Challenges: Maintaining equipment. "We burn through trucks," says Collard.
Branding is another challenge, she adds. "I want to make sure we are known." Having an in-house marketing director, a first for the company, will help. "It's a little too much for me right now.
Opportunities: Growth in Colorado or Nevada. Collard says she envisions acquiring sign companies to serve Denver and Las Vegas.
Solar-powered electric signs in off-the-grid, rural areas are another opportunity for Allied. ”"That's something we're working on here," says Collard.
Needs: "More trucks and more equipment," says Collard. She says Allied will soon be adding a flatbed priter and a heat transfer table.
Another need is more space in Salt Lake City: The company's 18,000-square-foot facility is maxed out. "We're completely out of space, so we're looking for more," says Collard. "We're on top of each other here."