Joel ‘Covers’ Atlanta in Signs and Vehicles

Joel ‘Covers’ Atlanta in Signs and Vehicles

Darren Joel, a CPA and entrepreneur, enjoys making Atlanta more colorful with his BlackFire Signs operation.

After 37 years with the Atlanta Journal-Constitution and now with the AJT, , Jaffe’s focus is lifestyle, art, dining, fashion, and community events with emphasis on Jewish movers and shakers.

BlackFire Signs did this vehicle wrap for Muchacho restaurant in Inman Park.
BlackFire Signs did this vehicle wrap for Muchacho restaurant in Inman Park.

Every day, Atlantans most likely admire a BlackFire Signs’ creation and don’t even know it.

Clever Darren Joel came up with his company’s concept at the start of the COVID lockdown. His business logo states, “Ignite Your Market.” The company is a one-stop shop for signage — you name it, Darren Joel can design and install it.

A wall of recognition for Home Depot designed by BlackFire Signs.

Then, there are the lively car and van wraps that Joel describes as “some wild and crazy designs” that tell a company’s story at 60 miles per hour. Some of his high visibility projects include ASW Distillery at The Battery at Truist Park and redoing all four of the Shane Co. stores. Other recognizable clients include Home Depot, UPS, Porsche, Legoland, Brandsmart, and the U.S. Navy. BlackFire Signs is currently working on a project for the Mercedes-Benz Stadium. Joel exclaimed, “It’s really fun for me driving around town and seeing our signs!”

Finding a career was not a linear path for Joel. He was a theater/film major in college and also pre-med. At 28, he went back to graduate school for an MBA and ended with a second master’s degree in accounting and joined Ernst & Young as a CPA.  At 30, he started his first business. About five years ago, after selling a custom upholstery and window treatment manufacturing business, he recalled, “I got this crazy idea to start a signage business and purchased equipment, rented 2,000 square feet of commercial space, hired a marketing firm and was ‘off to the races.’ BlackFire Signs exceeded my expectations for growth and margins. We have grown over 100 percent every year.”

A before and after composite photo of a pickup truck wrapped by BlackFire Signs.

BlackFire Signs focuses on businesses, building long lasting client relationships, and helping businesses grow through visual branding. Their sweet spot is commercial interior branding like window graphics and frosting, large-scale wall graphics and murals, as well as Americans with Disability signage for offices. They design commercial vehicle wraps and vehicle graphics for companies with small and large fleets.

Most of BlackFire Signs’ new customer traffic is driven through their super performing website. With expert web strategy, Joel receives calls from as far as Arizona and California. They did a $30,000 project for a private hunting lodge in Louisiana last year. Referrals and word of mouth are also in the mix. Joel takes pride in providing thorough communication and service that pays off in referrals and repeat business.

The “Create” wall graphic designed for the front lobby of Design Group Americas.

Always thinking, Joel identifies his strengths as targeting weaknesses in a business and creating processes for efficiency and profitability. He also seeks to find strengths in employees, helping them find their groove and allowing them to grow professionally and individually in the workplace.

He stated, “I love discovering a hard-working person, capitalizing on their strengths, and allowing them to grow in the organization…I like taking what starts as a concept and creating it into a functional reality. I’m very involved in the day-to-day operations, interacting with customers, and in general business operations.  I do love spreadsheets. They are obviously a fantastic data analytics tool and an accountant’s best friend. Although I am a CPA, ironically, most of the accounting is handled by my wife, Marci, and our accountant.”

The “Exhale” sign, located in the lobby/reception area for Exhale Spa in Midtown.

Joel proffers advice to businesses on maximizing signage: “Keep it simple, less is usually better. Think about how and where it will be used. Can it be used for both letterhead and a building sign? A smart logo should somehow convey what you do in a simple or subtle way. Like when you see a logo and you suddenly ‘get it!’”

This sign for Verisail Partners features brushed aluminum mounted to a black panel with brushed metal standoffs.

Joel and wife Marci have three children, all in Jewish day schools. Their entire family are certified Scuba divers, and Joel trains six days per week in a variety of colored belts in mixed martial arts disciplines: Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, judo, Maui Thai kickboxing, grappling, and Krav Maga. He’s also an avid kiteboarder and he spearheaded the security initiative at Congregation Ohr HaTorah. For more information about BlackFire Signs, call (404) 636-4800.

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