Great ideas and great commitment make these businesses, run by Smith School
alumni and current students, shine. Up-and-comers in their respective
industries, they’ve already gained attention from local media, and are well
Spotlight: Brami brothers, Gelberg Signs
Web site: www.gelbergsigns.com
The Brami brothers never dreamed they’d be signing major league deals, let
alone running a business together. But the trio — Luc, Neil and Guy, all
University of Maryland business school alums — found a strong team in family and
they’ve been winning ever since. They are now winning more than $7 million in
annual contracts with their sign company, Gelberg Signs. They really hit one out
of the park when they scored a $1.5 million deal to create all the signage for
the new Washington Nationals baseball stadium.
The Bramis’ signs were in place — all 3,000 of them — for the Nationals’
Opening Day and debut of the new stadium this past April 1. Gelberg Signs
designed, manufactured, installed and will maintain every one of them. The
D.C.-based company is one of the few vertically integrated sign companies in the
area, a “one-stop shop” for those in need of a few good signs. But winning the
Nationals Stadium contract wasn’t easy.
“We implemented a three-point strategy: price, politics and performance. Each
point is equally important,” said Luc Brami. “We won the contract by offering
the best price, the opportunity to keep business within D.C. and the highest
The strategy seems to be working. Gelberg Signs has grown 20 percent for two
consecutive years, and the brothers are aiming high, pushing the company to
reach a $10 million annual sales mark by 2010.
Luc (’77), Neil (’85) and Guy Brami (’89), all majored in marketing at
Maryland. “We didn’t major in business at Maryland thinking that we’d get
together and run a business later,” said Neil. “It just happened.”
Neil began working at Gelberg Signs as an undergraduate at Maryland, joining
the company full-time after graduation. The company was founded in 1941 by
William P. Gelberg, who died in 1941. Luc, Neil and the brothers’ father,
Georges, acquired the organization from external investors in 1989. Guy joined
the company in 1992.
Each brother fields a different area of operations in the business. Neil
works in creative planning and manages operations, while Luc handles the
business’s public relations and marketing efforts, and Guy lends a hand in
external communications and oversees project installation. Their unique
relationships with one another have benefited the company’s long-term outlook.
“If you had three people that care about a company and its growth in the same
way, it’s much different than being one lone manager,” said Guy. “You never
worry if the people around you share the same goals and motivation. Everyone’s
in this together.”
The Bramis credit the education they each received at Maryland’s business
school with the valuable marketing knowledge and skills that they have applied
to running and growing their company.
“We were all marketing majors for a reason. We learned about product
lifetimes and the importance of sales, marketing, and good public relations,”
said Luc. “Maryland gave us a base for how to take off with a business, wherever