Kitstekens 2000 (formerly André Reklametekens) is celebrating its 30th anniversary. Signage consultant Riaan Alkema outlines the history of the company.
Riaan’s grandfather, Marthinus Philippus Alkema, was a first generation sign writer who used a paint brush and mahl stick for his work. He traded from his home sign studio. ‘I still remember the musky smell of thinners and paint in his studio,’ said Riaan. ‘‘Oupa’ perfected the delicate art of stencilling by using 24 carat gold leaf overlay on hand painted text. Those tools are still tucked away in his steel box. Being an artist at heart, he sold many oil paintings. He had a sixth sense to capture nature on canvas.’
In 1989, Riaan’s father André, a successful Maths teacher, had the desire to change his life. Driven by passion and true love, he turned to his childhood roots, having being exposed to many hours of sign-writing. He started small in Pretoria – one man with a paint brush and 3 x 5m garage. Just like that, André Reklametekens was born. ‘I have fond memories of how my siblings and I spent hours piercing tiny holes on the outline of artwork. This was used by my father as a stencil. He taped the artwork against the substrate where the logo should be and bashed a powdered chalk bag against the holes so it left an outline on the substrate. We were so happy with the R2 compensation we received from my father,’ said Riaan.
In 1991, the company name changed to Kitstekens 2000 with the slogan ‘Môre se Tekens Vandag!’ A Roland vinyl plotter was purchased thereafter with a 500mm bed width, and was run by the Letter Art programme. The machine worked overtime due to Andre’s knack for detail and customer service. His belief that ‘the customer is always right’, is a value that Riaan still holds dear.
In 1997, the family purchased a Roland CAMM-1 GR-640, which was run by the Winplot programme. By taking care of and servicing the machine regularly, it is still operational today, of course with many blades later.
In 1999, the Gerber Dimension 200x CNC router joined the Kitstekens 2000 family. With this machine, the company can cut Plexiglas, aluminium and wood. It was used to manufacture 3D built-up letters, with projects including the 9 x 2.7m ‘Hollywood’ sign at Mediclinic Medforum.
In 2001, Kitstekens entered the digital printing market with the Roland Versa CAMM SP-540.
Kitstekens is a dynamic team of professional signage consultants with over 100 years of combined experience. They manufacture fire and safety signs, vehicle branding, name boards, LED built-up and fabricated logos and lettering and do vehicle wrapping, sandblast vinyl, flags, light box signs, corporate and party banners and shopfronts. Its footprint expands into the African continent, servicing countries such as Namibia, Botswana, Nigeria and Lesotho.
The company also has a community outreach program called Sign Therapy, a workshop centered on sign manufacturing activities such as measuring, applicating, puzzle building and stacking using vinyl (or stickers) with transferring agents, as well as decorating T-shirts with heat transfers and jewels. These activities have therapeutic properties and enhance hand-eye coordination.
‘I’d like to thank all of our customers for helping us to reach our big 30 year milestone. I’d also like to thank our team, whose enthusiasm, support and high level of dedication has taken the company to great heights,’ concluded Riaan.