The SPCA for Monterey County in California rescues, rehabilitates, comforts, and heals animals. They also perform wildlife releases with owls, bobcats, and eagles.
This non-profit organization not only provides adoption, animal sheltering, and many vital services in their area, but they are also very pro-active across the country. They were instrumental in helping rescue dogs from former NFL player Michael Vick, and they helped rescue pets after Hurricane Katrina thirteen years ago and Hurricane Irma in Florida last year.
During their cross-country travels, Board members studied the other SPCAs and realized that their facilities needed modernizing, which also meant updating wayfinding signage.
The SPCA for Monterey County had been using simple wood signs-on-wood posts for years, similar to the plain, no-nonsense style on a military base. They needed new signage that would complement the more up-to-date, animal-friendly architecture of the new buildings they were planning to construct, as well as the surrounding scenery.
Trucksis Enterprises, Inc.
For those who know her, it should be no surprise that Merry Trucksis would be awarded the opportunity to design effective wayfinding signage for this property’s new construction.
Merry is a long-time sign-maker who firmly believes that all creatures great and small should be treated with kindness and respect. Ever since she moved to the area twenty-nine years ago, Merry has volunteered at this SPCA on weekends.
Merry grew up in the textiles industry. Her father worked his way up from mopping floors at a textile company in Chicago to eventually becoming their vice president of sales. He taught Merry everything about fabrics, flags, and vinyl banners.
After her father passed away two years after starting Trucksis Enterprises, Inc., Merry was at a crossroads in her early twenties. Seeing the large turnout at her father’s funeral, Merry couldn’t let her father’s name be forgotten, so she took over the business. “Everybody was really patient and kind, as I figured things out,” she laughs. (Note: Patience will be a recurring theme throughout this story.)
She eventually moved to Monterey County, specializing in flag production, but eventually evolving into a one-stop sign shop due to area customers’ needs.
For this SPCA project, Merry envisioned designs that would not only incorporate the heart of the client but also the harmony within the surrounding mountain environment.
While volunteering, Merry would also scope out the construction site, which at the time resembled Fred Flintstone’s quarry. She became a reverse-Dr. Dolittle—instead of talking to the animals, Merry needed to talk to the designers and architects behind the new construction, Animal Art (the number-one company that designs shelters across the U.S.).
“Some of the things that came up when properties were being excavated and buildings erected was that there were many times when you’re just looking at plans on paper,” says Merry. “So I had to call them to find out how this was going to play out in three dimensions. That was integral.”
When it comes to wayfinding signage, Merry identifies three elements before crafting visions in her head: (1) the physical environment and its weather conditions; (2) the surrounding architecture and landscaping; and (3) the facility type.
“Any facility that a person is going to in high emotion needs dumbed-down signage. This could be the SPCA, a hospital, or a doctors park,” she says. “Design and copy has to be clear and calm because people are running on emotion in these environments.”
Since the new on-property signage was going to feature dimensional letters and logos, leading her to consider extreme weather and other human-involved conditions, Merry selected one-mold lightweight foam coated with Poly-Armor from Peachtree City Foamcraft. She was impressed with their design-and-build knowledge and charity work. “I thanked them for paying it forward to people,” she says.
She also realized that they were going to be in a construction zone for a long time. “The Foamcraft material won’t break if a car hits it as thirty-five miles per hour,” says Merry, “which was perfect here, since I didn’t want to see a construction truck back into something and break it.”
The dark green has been featured in the SPCA’s logo since their founding back in 1905. It’s also the color of the exposed pipes that run along the interior walls to the special, energy-efficient roofline that softens the sounds of heavy rains (so as to not scare any animals inside). The coral orange matches the roofline of the new SPCA building, while Merry used charcoal gray for the sign bases to brand the architecture with the surrounding nature.
Merry ended up devising four different wayfinding design ideas—over the course of four years! (Note: We told you that patience was going to be a virtue here.)
The first idea Merry developed was a cross between Western and European-style signage, which would feature a circle floating above a square. It would also be rustic looking, to complement the nearby mountains.
Merry thought she would have the first design ready to go and ready to order with Peachtree, though in reality, it took a few years for the entire Board of Directors to finally agree on a modern-style design with rustic elements, amongst the many requests for alterations.
Merry credits Peachtree City Foamcraft for their patience. “They never treated me like, ‘Will she ever place an order?’” she says. “And at the end of the day, I still had that floating circle…and I loved that floating circle!”
Peachtree City Foamcraft built and painted the sign panels, bases, letters, and logos out of Foamcraft straight from Merry’s drawings, specs, and colors. (And, yes, the floating circle was achieved through a bolting system.) All the signs were then shipped in one piece straight to the installer, San Jose Construction.
Installation was easy. A week in advance, Merry and her crew arrived with an auger, dug the hole, put the sleeves in, and cemented it in. “We inserted a pipe in the inside of the sleeve, which joined the pipe,” she says. “There’s a hole inside the Poly-Armor with a reinforced wall that mat slides it over two toothpick pipes. It’s similar to rebar, which means that if a truck backs into it, it would just bend the rebar and not break the sign.”
Merry is excited to see the signage on the property. “I say to my clients, ‘If you don’t look good, then I didn’t do my job,’” she says. “There’s always that drive behind every client, but this one was close to my heart since it was the SPCA for Monterey County.”
By Jeff Wooten
Photos: Trucksis Enterprises, Inc.