There’s a Santa Clarita team in the Super Bowl every year.
They don’t wear hard plastic hats with thick interior padding and face masks. Or shoulder pads. They don’t throw passes or make tackles.
This team, rather, shows up for the NFL’s championship game with banners and backdrops, dimensional signs, graphics, and other specially designed display elements.
When it comes to putting on the Super Bowl Experience, nobody beats Creative Graphic Services, a third-generation local printing company that, for the past 29 years, has produced the major display pieces for arguably the country’s most prolific sporting event.
“Just by chance, in the ‘80s, we got a phone call from a representative of the NFL’s production company,” Jim Niner recalls during a recent afternoon tour of the company’s 27,000-square-foot facility on Centre Pointe Parkway.
While the Super Bowl is the pinnacle, CGS’ craftsmanship has been seen across the Santa Clarita Valley for more than four decades.
Those banners and signs at local events hosted by the City of Santa Clarita, Six Flags Magic Mountain and Henry Mayo Newhall Hospital, just to name a few. Done by CGS.
Those wrapped Mechanix Wear vehicles cruising the city streets. Done by CGS.
“CGS continues to be fully committed to giving back to the local community in as many meaningful ways as possible,” Production Manager Kyle Niner says. “We’ve prioritized the development of our relationships with the schools, hospitals, youth programs, and community groups in the Santa Clarita Valley, as well as the city itself, and are proud of our ability to continue to contribute to the ambitions and beautification of local programs. The city’s monthly SENSES Block Party on Main Street in Newhall continues to be a main focal point that we are able to regularly provide an interactive element in a photo booth backdrop.
“Seeing the local community interact with graphic elements that are produced and installed by our team always provides a sense of pride and accomplishment,” he adds. “We look forward to continuing to grow our relationships with Santa Clarita and the locals who call this city home.”
From humble beginnings – CGS sprang to life in a 1,200 square-foot shop in the late 1970s, working almost exclusively in cutting thick foam letters for large-scale displays – the Niners’ family business has grown to include a diverse portfolio that includes printing on fabric, canvas, carpet, and more.
“Welcome to the world of arts and crafts for adults!” proclaims Niner, the company’s vice president, as he sweeps his right arm into the air toward the bustling production facility.
He’s not kidding. Workers at CGS specialize in creativity, whether it’s signage, wallcoverings, decals, window displays or vehicle wraps, for commercial clients and resellers.
Some projects are completed on massive roll-to-roll printers – the company’s newest, purchased in 2016, cost some $900,000 – while others are done the old-fashioned way – with needle and thread.
The Super Bowl, as it is for the NFL’s 32 teams – is the company’s big game.
It was 1989, Niner says, when Ron Niner, Jim’s father and the company’s founder, received the call that changed everything.
“They needed a company to cut thick foam letters,” Jim says. The jobs grew from there to include all guest-facing displays for the annual title game, including stadium entrances, as well as the commissioner’s tailgate party.
For the 2018 Super Bowl staged in Minneapolis, won by the Philadelphia Eagles, 41-33 over the New England Patriots, CGS developed “a million and a half square feet of fun,” Niner says.
If you’re wondering: That’s about 30 football fields.
The company’s work with the NFL has since led to projects for the MLB and NHL all-star festivities, too, and that work has helped spur CGS’ growth. The company, now with 33 employees, has recently opened a second office in Jersey City, near New York City, to further expand its national footprint.
“When I used to order lunch, it was 12, maybe 15. We’ve doubled,” says Malerie McCalla, a Saugus High School graduate who began as a receptionist but has since been promoted to the company’s marketing office.
To learn more about CGS, go online to www.creativegraphicservices.com.
CGS MISSION STATEMENT
Doing all things with integrity. If we do things the right way, we will get the right results. Building a positive team with a family spirit. We maintain a positive environment and believe in positive reinforcement to foster a cohesive team. Having passion and a sense of urgency for our work. We return client calls and communication the same day, within minutes to hours. Putting our clients first. Every time, no exceptions. Partnering with our clients. We develop partner relationships with our clients with a focus on long-lasting, win-win results. Maintaining social responsibility & giving back. We are committed to conducting our business in a socially responsible and ethical manner. Additionally, we support local non-profits on an annual basis. Welcoming feedback to help us improve. We listen, we hear, and we react to improve our production, relationships, and success.
A journalist of 25 years, Steve Kiggins is editor of the Santa Clarita Valley Business Journal. Prior to joining The Signal in December 2017, Kiggins was based in Utah as an executive editor in the USA TODAY Network and worked more than a decade in media and education in Wyoming.
Follow him on Twitter, @scoopskiggy.