Sitting in the boardroom which once was his grandfather’s office in the 1970s — equipped with a private bathroom, thank you very much — Daryl Blanchett uses a word starting with the little ‘l’ several times.

He’s the president of Blanchett Neon: a company that manufactures signs for businesses. So, one could conclude the word is logograph, or light, or lingam. Think again.

The word? Legacy. That’s the repeated adjective the 50-year-old Blanchett has rolling off his tongue in a relaxed 45-minute interview. And, it makes all kinds of sense: nestled on the west side of St. Albert Trail, the family-owned business recently celebrated 70 years in business.

Blanchett is the third generation of the company, first started by grandfather, George, and then operated by his father.

Today, the hum of equipment comes from the production area, which uses the majority of the 28,000-sq.-ft. operation.

A staff of 40 — many of whom have been with the company for multiple decades — all come together in the production of signs which are lit up nightly in businesses through Alberta and Saskatchewan. Some of those signs cross the border and head to their new home in the United States.

And it’s all being recognized nationally. Last fall, Blanchett was presented with the 2017 Sign Professional of The Year at a Toronto Banquet by the Canadian Sign Association.

Such awards have deep meanings, given they are determined by peers. But what makes Blanchett’s achievement that much sweeter — he was nominated by one of his competitors.

“It was nice to get, sure,” said Blanchett, who clearly appears uncomfortable being singled out. “But I accepted it on behalf of everyone that works here. We have a great team.”

People who lead teams, generally, don’t have favourites. So, when Blanchett was asked to list a few of the signs he’s most proud of, he — again — deflects the query.

“I’m proud of every sign we make,” he said. “Some jobs may take some extra creativity and I think they become good products. But I’m proud of everything we do here.”

Even though the sign business was in his genes, Blanchett didn’t see it as a career. He studied recreation. Then he found a job as a park ranger around Thunder Lake.

But falling in love … it changes one’s life, doesn’t it? Blanchett met a young woman named Denise — now his wife — in Edmonton. Driving back and forth became an onerous task.

So he emptied his canteen and hung up his ranger hat and moved to Edmonton. Working for the family company was always an option. It was a chance, back then, to start his own legacy. So he took it and was named sales manager, and then president.

Blanchett recognizes retirement is looming but isn’t focused on it. He wants to make sure a good succession plan is in place if his children are interested in taking things over.

“Maybe a condo in Maui in the winter,” he said with a smile and a wink of an eye. “But I’ll still be involved, somehow.”

And, so the Blanchett legacy continues.


Written by 

Follower of Christ, husband, father, grandfather, Edmonton Sun columnist, Oiler Entertainment Group writer, co-author of Disabled? Hell No! I’m a Sit-Down Comic, speaker, comedian, Challenge Insurance special projects advisor, former Edmonton Journal columnist, vice-cjair of the Premier’s Council on the Status of Persons with Disabilities and closet Beverly Hillbillies mega fan and (very small) closet disco singer.