When Joe English and Matt Morgan started building sports-themed tables for their man caves, they had no idea it would lead them to buy a sign company.
Five years later, they sell the tables — along with signs of all shapes, sizes, styles and materials — at Sikorski Signs in Belleville.
“You can pick your own design, and we’ll put it on a table for you,” said Morgan, 38, of Smithton.
The partners have made tables with company logos, city skylines and baseball, football, hockey and basketball images. Now they’re working on a conference table for Lanter Delivery Systems, a trucking company based in Madison.
“They’re going to use it in their Atlanta location,” Morgan said. “It’s 5 feet wide and 18 feet long.”
English and Morgan have known each other since graduating one year apart from Belleville West High School. They didn’t plan to become entrepreneurs.
English was a union boilermaker for 17 years. Morgan worked for an in-ground swimming pool company for 19 years.
They ended up living on the same Smithton street, where neighbors get together to watch TV games in garages-turned-sports-bars. They tried using lawn furniture, but it didn’t hold up well.
“We looked online for some kind of sports-themed tables — Cardinals and Blues, in particular — but they were all kind of chintzy and not real stable,” Morgan said.
“They were more of a novelty,” added English, 39. “And with the prices and shipping costs ... That threw us into the situation of, ‘We’re just going to make them ourselves.’”
Before long, English and Morgan were getting requests from other neighbors, family and Facebook friends. Then they rented a booth at Kay Weber’s Art and Craft Fall Fair at Belle-Clair Fairgrounds.
They have sold about 250 custom tables, generally made of wood with vinyl designs or acrylic lettering covered with epoxy resin and a glass-glazed finish.
“We started with a jigsaw, and that lasted for about four tables,” English said. “You just couldn’t be precise. Then we bought a jig with a router, and it worked fine, but the natural progression was getting a (computer-controlled) router. It does the cutting for you.”
English and Morgan were having their designs printed at Sikorski Signs, a union shop on North Belt West near Shop ‘n Save. It was founded in 1974 by Allen Sikorski and more recently owned by Don Minton.
Minton decided to sell the sign company to focus more on his other business, Minton Outdoor Services, which is next door.
English and Morgan agreed to take over as long as graphic designer Tim Miesner would stay on and work his magic.
The shop offers sign painting and lettering on storefronts and makes dimensional letters, business signs, political yard signs, decals, banners, vehicle magnets and wraps and other signage out of vinyl, PVC, metal, wood and acrylic.
“The other day, we got a request for a barn quilt,” Miesner said.
Sikorski Signs is at 4407 North Belt West. Custom tables cost $350 for 36-inch diameter or $300 for 24-inch with sturdy bases. For more information, visit www.sikorskisigns.com or call 618-235-0200.