You drive by the 4-by-4-foot sign on the corner of East Market and Harrison streets on a regular basis. Maybe it's on your weekly trek to church or the grocery store. It could be on your daily drive to work, or to pick up the kids at school.

It welcomes you as you drive west into York. If you're heading east, and drive slowly enough, you'll catch a glimpse into the city's history. Pictures, black-and-white and sepia-toned, adorn the back of the sand-blasted redwood sign.


Michael Mundy cuts PVC letters for a three-dimensional sign at Impressive Signs. The company made the "Welcome to York" signs that greet people coming into the city on East and West Market streets. (DAILY RECORD/SUNDAY NEWS -- PAUL KUEHNEL)
While you might just give a fleeting glance to the sign, others pay closer attention to the old wooden marquee.

Michael Mundy is just one of many people who have worked on the sign. A York native, Mundy is an employee at Impressive Signs, which made the sign.

"I drive by it every day," Mundy said.

He's quick to point out the picture on the back that shows the old Lincoln Highway Garage. The building has been replaced by a Turkey Hill modeled after it.

That picture is just one of the details that make the "Welcome to York" sign stand out.

* * *

The first thing you notice when you step into Michael Montgomery's office at Impressive Signs is the colorful vinyl rolls.

Bright blues and greens, bold reds and oranges, vibrant yellows and purples hold your attention as he talks about his business.

Then something else catches your eye.

Above Montgomery's head are models of the speeder bike and snowspeeder from "Star Wars." On a shelf to your right is a model Army Jeep.

A closer look reveals dirts in the threads of the Jeep's front driver's side wheel. Rust on the locomotive. Tiny piping on the Star Wars vehicles.

Even when he's not working on a sign for the business, Montgomery has a project to tinker with.

"Mike is just a creative man," Mundy said. "The whole aspect of making something with his hands (drives him)."


Mike Montgomery stands in his office at Impressive Signs in Spring Garden Township Wednesday, Nov. 7. The colored, vinyl rolls behind him are used for lettering. (DAILY RECORD/SUNDAY NEWS -- PAUL KUEHNEL)
Mundy has been working for Montgomery for 18 years. During that time, Mundy has worked on the "Welcome to York" sign several times.

The years haven't been kind to the sign.

In the last decade alone, the sign has been struck by a car and had its finials -- the ornamental gold bulbs atop its posts -- stolen.

Each time it needed to be repaired, it ended up back in the shop at Impressive Signs.

Montgomery takes pride in repeat customers.

It's a sign they're doing things right.

"Customer service is the key," he said. That means don't cut corners.

"If there's a mistake, fix it," he said, "No matter what it costs."

Montgomery, a blue pen tucked behind his right ear, swiveled in his seat as he told the story of how he started Impressive Signs. He turned to his right and one of the vinyl rolls -- a deep, thick blue one -- catches your eye as he talks about the car.

* * *

Impressive Signs started with a car. A 1967 Ford Mustang, to be precise. It was Montgomery's car -- another project his creative juices demanded he take up.


Michael Mundy Works on a sign at Impressive Signs in Spring Garden Township. (SUBMITTED)
In 1989, Montgomery was working for another sign company when he decided he'd strike out on his own.

To do so, he'd need space, not to mention some cash. So he threw a "For Sale" sign on the car he had spent three years restoring.

"I didn't really want to get rid of it," Montgomery said.

With the garage space freed up, and some extra coin, Montgomery went to work. He took his truck, parked it on the street and went door-to-door looking for customers.

Montgomery didn't want to take any customers from his old job, so he tried to find business from new avenues.

Over time, Impressive Signs grew, forcing Montgomery to move it first to eastern York County, then to its current spot on North East Street in Spring Garden Township, less than one mile from the sign that welcomes people to York.

Like the sign, Montgomery said one of the other keys to the company's success has been treating his employees with respect.

"I like the interaction with my customers and employees," he said. "Sometimes it's an escape from the real world."

The shop

Name: Impressive Signs

Location: 351 N. East St., Spring Garden Township

Contact: 717-848-9305; www.impressivesigns.com

Conflicting signs

Travelers rely on signs to help them get places.

But in York, it hasn't always been a simple process.

Early in her term, Mayor Kim Bracey sent a letter to the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation requesting permission to change the placement of a "Do Not Enter" sign that was in front of the "Welcome to York" sign on East Market Street.

The "Do Not Enter" sign is there because for westbound traffic East Market becomes a one-way road at that point. The city has looked into making that part of the street a two-way road.

East Marketremains designated one-way at that spot, but the "Do Not Enter" sign has since been moved to the side of the "Welcome" sign instead of in front of it.

During a 2010 hearing on economic development within the city, signage directing traffic to the citywas discussed as an issue the city must address.