Steve Williams is president of Harbinger, the Jacksonville-based sign company whose jobs include hanging the new name in June for TIAA Bank Field at Jacksonville’s NFL stadium. He also developed Hoptinger Bier Garden & Sausage House and The Bread & Board in Riverside. Harbinger works coast to coast and its 86 employees include those in the Dallas office. The headquarters is at 5300 Shad Road.
Harbinger Sign has been around since 1962. My grandfather, George Massey, started the business. In 1973, my father, Roger, took over. In ’91, I came on board and we’ve been growing since. In 2010, we changed our name from Quality Neon Sign Co. to Harbinger Sign. We grew five times our size in that one year.
We went to a local agency and they came up with a big list of names, and Harbinger was one of them. The definition of the word is sign of the future, so we thought, that’s what we want to be.
We’re one of the only sign companies for the NFL, so we take care of the Jaguars stadium. We take care of all the Gate stations, the Daily’s gas stations, we do a lot of work with Baptist Hospital and customer projects around town.
We really haven’t focused locally for five or six years as we’ve grown. We want to get back to our roots. We see so much happening in Jacksonville and we’d like to be part of it.
I’ve always had my hand in the arts. We’re on hiatus right now with Florida Mining Gallery (at the office headquarters), but certainly we want to keep that going. I’m a painter on the side – I’ve had different kinds of career moves over the years – but would like to get back to that and maybe do another project in the future.
I personally can’t imagine a better-structured Downtown and the historic boroughs that surround the Downtown than we have here in Jacksonville. The Emerald Necklace project that’s coming up, I’d really love to be involved in that. That could be an international stop and connect the neighborhoods – LaVilla, Brooklyn, New Town, Durkeeville. It’s 14 miles. I think Downtown is starting to happen as that happens.
Maybe it will be just like all at once, sort of a tidal wave. The structure of the historic boroughs really sets us apart from anywhere. It is a little like New York, and people laugh at me when I say that. But it’s also sort of like Berlin, with the structure of our Downtown historic boroughs surrounding the city core.
I really do believe if we connect the communities and do some community building where people become involved in the project, that’s a healthier growth plan than we’ve had and it’s really going to bring the local story together.