West Allis-based Poblocki Sign Co. chief executive officer Dave Drury announced the retirement of Jerry Poblocki, the company’s president of its board of directors.
“Jerry’s is a story of a man who has left a legacy over nearly a century of leadership in Milwaukee,” Drury said. “His retirement gives us a chance to honor the work he has done to build a company that has quite literally left a mark on the face of our city.”
Poblocki, 85, began his career in 1945 when his father, Ben Poblocki, who founded the company, took him and his brothers out of high school to work for the business. Shortly after, at the age of 17, Poblocki enlisted for a two-year term in the Navy during World War II.
“I went into the Navy because everyone else was doing it. Back then, you didn’t give much thought to serving your country,” Poblocki said.
When he returned, he returned to his schooling by taking additional classes to earn his high school diploma.
“At one time, my father and all of his five sons were working at the company. Titles and responsibilities were assigned by age,” he said.
He began his career at Poblocki & Sons Co., by servicing and wiring signs. In 1953, he became the service and installation manager and was soon promoted to estimator. During his 67 years at the company, he had the chance to work at every position. During the 1960s and ’70s, he oversaw some of the company’s largest accounts in a sales and estimator role, including A&P, Shell Oil, General Motors, Ford and Target.
“I like the sign business. You get to develop someone’s idea that starts on a napkin and goes from the ground up into a sign,” he said.
In 1981, shortly after his father’s death, Poblocki decided to purchase the family business from his brothers, who were looking to retire. He ran the business with his son, Mark.
The company creates custom design solutions for architectural signage, wayfinding, interior signage, directional signage and exterior signage in groundbreaking ways.
From the time he purchased the company, until the time he sold the business in 1999 to Drury, Poblocki held the position of president and chief executive officer.
Poblocki will be replaced by Drury as president of the company’s board of directors. His retirement is effective immediately.
In addition to its 120,000-square-foot headquarters in West Allis, Poblocki has regional offices in Orlando and Tampa, Fla.; Charlotte, N.C.; Omaha, Neb.; and Washington, D.C.
The company’s customers have included Harley-Davidson Inc., Quarles & Brady; Motorola, Marquette University, the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, Summerfest, the Wisconsin State Fair, Miller Park and the Trump International Hotel & Tower.
“My goal was to build one of the best sign companies in the nation. I think we did that,” Poblocki said. “The sign business will be around forever – every place needs a sign.”