The Buzz with Luc Brami of Gelberg Signs
Luc Brami is Principal at Gelberg Signs, a leading designer and fabricator of commercial signage for the Washington, DC metropolitan area. Having been named a Certified Business Enterprise by the DC Department of Small and Local Business Development (DSLBD), Gelberg Signs is fully committed to assisting in the success of the local economy, and contain the resources to meet the needs of businesses in a wide range of markets. Luc is also a Board member of WDCEP and a sponsor of this year’s Business Plan Competition.
Congratulations on Gelberg Signs’ recent expansion. You’ve chosen to keep your business in DC. Why is staying in the District important to your company?
We’ve been in DC since 1941 and enjoy being part of the local and business community. Several full service sign companies resided in DC until the early 90’s. They’ve all moved to the suburbs or closed their operations and we’re the only remaining full service sign designer, manufacturer and installer. Our opportunities and relationship with the DC government have changed dramatically over the past 10 years. During the early part of the decade less than 5% of our business with the DC government and just 10% of our commercial work was within DC proper. Due to the current administration efforts to enforce the CBE program which states 35% of every development dollar spent must be spent on CBE’s our percentage of work in DC overall has increased to 25%. We’re just scratching the surface—the future bodes well with such large upcoming projects like City Center, the Marriott convention Center Hotel, O Street Market, the South West Waterfront, just to name a few.
Gelberg Signs has received much recognition throughout the years for its major success as a small, local business, including recognition by President Barack Obama this past year. In what ways do you think small business is important to the DC economy?
The President of the United States, the Mayor of DC, the Chair of the DC Council and many of the Council Members have stated on many occasions that our DC Small businesses are the engines of our local economy. Gelberg Signs and other local businesses have a direct positive effect on DC Revenue, providing 6% sales tax, 8% payroll tax, franchise tax, use tax, ball park tax, utility tax, gas tax, unemployment tax, vehicle registration fees, etc. We’re also strong proponents of local buying and the positive results it has on the community and the local economy. Local small businesses hire more DC residents and provide living wages and benefits. This too adds to the revenue of the DC government by increasing the resident tax base and at the same time reducing services such as unemployment benefit and social services costs.
Please share with us some of the important projects in the DC area that Gelberg Signs is working on.
Past projects include Nationals Stadium, Children’s Hospital and DC USA. Current endeavors consist of DC school projects, DC Heritage Trails program, all signs for DC Parks and Recreation, the Walter E. Washington Convention Center and the Howard Theatre. Potential future projects that we hope to take on are City Center, O street Market, Marriott Marquis, Southwest Waterfront, and the St. Elizabeth Site.
Gelberg is now serving as a proud sponsor of the WDCEP’s 2011 Business Plan Competition, and will be providing $2,500 worth of signage for the winner of this year’s competition. Why do you think it’s important for your company to give back to local businesses?
Gelberg Signs is honored to be one of the sponsors of the 2011 WDCEP Business Plan Completion. Gelberg Signs endeavors a “double bottom line” strategy: Financial successes for the company and our employees lead to repayment to the city and citizens from which the successes were derived. We’re not just a DC business—our foundation literally and figuratively is DC. Therefore it is our obligation to support the community. Our support is shown in many ways. We’ve raised an excess of $100,000 for Fields of Dreams which supports DC’s elementary school children. We founded the Washington Development Industry Council to aid and support DC’s CBE community. We’re job placement partners with Sasha Bruce’s Youth Build program and the Covenant House of Washington’s Artisan’s program. These two programs concentrate their efforts on at-risk youth and young adults.