It’s hard to believe that it’s been three decades since our family-owned business opened its doors as a Signs By Tomorrow franchise. On our own many years later, ER2 Image Group is not only surviving, we’re thriving. In honor of this milestone, the Schellerer family gathered together to share some of the highlights from the company’s history and offer some insights into their success.
One key reason for the accomplishment of ER2 is the family itself. “Working with family definitely has its challenges and I believe we’ve faced most of them,” said Vice President Alan Schellerer. “But we always work it out, because we continue to learn from, and respect, each other.”
President Gary Schellerer Sr. agrees. “As a father, it’s been rewarding to watch each of my children mature and earn respect in positions which best suited their personalities. Having that motivated success-driven management team along with our talented, hardworking employees is what has set us apart.”
“Our employees are really part of our extended ER2 family,” said Vice President Gary Schellerer Jr. “We started with four employees and now have 70. The whole team, from production to management, has really stepped up over the years. It’s great to have such a skilled group of professionals to take on the day-to-day responsibilities.”
Changing With the Times
Those responsibilities have changed dramatically over the past 30 years. “I’ve watched many of our friends and competitors close their doors over this past year because they weren’t willing or able to change direction,” said Gary Sr. “One of our strongest attributes has been to fully take advantage of the current market and evolve as necessary to thrive.” This trend continues today as the company branches out. “We’ve actually been awarded a number of high-profile interior décor jobs running through 2022,” Vice President Mark Schellerer said. “The permanent installations, while highly scrutinized, can be most rewarding, especially when we are involved in early stages of product discovery.”
“Space always seems to be our biggest issue,” said Gary Jr. “We have now moved or expanded seven times in our 30 years. It’s hard to relocate, but it’s well worth it to maintain the high productivity levels and quality standards that our customers depend on.”
Naturally, the pandemic had a huge impact. “Having lost not only events and exhibits, but a myriad of other regular business, it was challenging and scary to say the least,” said Mark. “We successfully pivoted our product line, employee responsibilities and essentially reinvented ourselves in a matter of weeks.”
“Looking back, I think our turning point was taking on COLOR JAM, which was one of the highest-profile projects ever done in Chicago,” said Gary Sr. “It tested our capabilities as a solution provider. The project was executed flawlessly and the results were an amazing amount of positive press and opportunities.”
COLOR JAM 2010 was one of Alan’s favorites as well. “It was the first time I was the lead on a project of that scale,” he said. “I don’t know if I’d want to relive it, but I’ll definitely always remember it.”
“NeoCon is always a very fun event for our company,” said Gary Jr. “We typically work with over 50 tenants and clients that vary from full graphic refreshes to public activations in the public areas of the Merchandise Mart.”
“I’ve been fortunate enough to work with the United Center for over ten years on an array of different projects,” said Mark. “For example, we provided graphics and installation for the NHL playoffs in 2010, 2013 and 2015.”
Seeking Our Identity
Gary Jr. says his favorite highlight in the past 30 years was the changing of the company’s brand. “We spent so much time and energy trying to find the right look and feel for our business that I often wondered if we would eventually get there,” he said. “Today, the ER2 image feels like it defines us. I could not imagine having any other identity.”
“Of course, we wouldn’t be here celebrating today without our wonderful clients”, said Gary Sr. “There’s just more of them.” ER2 still works with companies that have been with them for years but is constantly adding new ones who can benefit from the company’s increased capacity and expanding service offerings.
A Look Forward
What does the future look like? “I would love to branch out into industries that haven’t yet been considered,” said Gary Jr. “Our equipment has so much to offer a wide variety of industry segments. I think we all need to open our minds to the possibilities of using our skills outside of our traditional core businesses.”
It’s been 30 great years, and we’re officially underway on the next 30.Thanks again to our awesome clients. We can’t wait to see what new opportunities and challenges they bring to our door.
Whatever project you have coming up, contact us and we’ll work together to make it happen.