The name says Gelberg, but this sign company is all about the Brami family
The name says Gelberg, but since 1989, the D.C.-based signage company that bears that moniker has been run by the Brami family.
Their involvement with Gelberg Signs dates back to when George Brami, an artist, joined the family-owned company in the early 1960s. He became president in 1979.
In 1989, Brami’s sons, Luc, Guy and Neil, bought the company outright. Almost 28 years later, the brothers are still leading the firm and have overseen its growth from 19 to 100 employees.
Luc Brami said the growth has been slow, with the brothers funding most of the investments and improvements themselves. The Brami brothers have also expanded their repertoire of services and the products they’re able to make under one roof.
“We’ve gone from making a limited amount of product and outsourcing other things to making everything in-house,” Luc said. “Anything you can possibly imagine, we make in-house.”
That goes from steel and electrical work to plastic fabrication to painting to graphic design.
Their work hasn’t gone without recognition, with former President Barack Obama paying a visit to the business in 2010 to make remarks on the economy and job growth. That visit highlights the status the Brami brothers have sought to create for Gelberg as one of the top sign companies in the United States.
Although between 60 percent and 70 percent of Gelberg Signs’ business is based in the Mid-Atlantic region, the company has also handled several high-profile projects outside of the area, including the Veterans Affairs hospital in Denver.
Local projects include creating signage for the Washington Nationals stadium, The Washington Post and, most recently, The Wharf at the Southwest waterfront.
Luc said the region’s growth has led to the company’s growth, and he expects that to continue in the next few years.
“There are a lot of big projects in D.C. in the next five years that will help us propel and establish a good basis, as well as expand nationally,” he said.
In addition to going after new projects, Gelberg Signs has also increased its warehouse from about 12,000 square feet to 50,000 square feet and founded an architectural engineering company, Gelberg AEC, about a year ago.
Luc said the family hasn’t decided if the next generation will come into the business yet, or if they’ll one day consider selling.
“We are going to continue to grow the business,” he said. “If the offer is right, you do what anybody does.”
For now, the brothers are focusing on increasing profit and on giving back to the community. “We’ve gone from maximizing and scrunching every dollar to investing money back in organizations,” Luc said.
A closer look
Description: Sign engineering and manufacturing
Leadership: Luc, Guy and Neil Brami, partners
This article appeared in the Washington Business Journal, February 23, 2017