By Peter L. McGuire

PARIS — When Mark Bancroft, owner of Bancroft Contracting Corporation, heard that Mac McLaughlin of McLaughlin Signs in Paris was retiring, he jumped at the chance to add sign building to his company’s portfolio. 

Mac McLaughlin has built signs for businesses and organizations in Oxford Hills since 1988 and has been in the sign building business for at least 40 years. 

Bancroft calls the company “a cornerstone of the community” and is excited to keep it inParis, albeit with a new name, new location and new sign builder.

Bancroft says that he has always tried to keep his business local. He will purchase most of McLaughlin’s equipment and hopes to retain the company’s clients. 

McLaughlin says that designing and building signs is demanding, but gratifying work.

“Sign building requires more varied labor skills than any business I can think of,” he says.

“You have to know how to do sheet metal work, welding, woodworking, using a cutting torch, computer graphics, all kinds of plastics, fabrication, sketches … it’s a lot of stuff.”

Although he is proud to carry on McLaughlin’s trade, Bancroft is impressed by what the veteran sign builder could accomplish with his two-person company. 

“The amazing thing is that Mac was able to do all of that,” says Bancroft.

“We don’t have any one person that can do all of that, but we’ve got a whole company of people, may of whom can do different things like that.” 

 Bancroft also found talent within his company to learn the sign building art.

For the next few weeks at least, McLaughlin will be showing Roger Robbins, formally a Bancroft crane operator, the basics of lettering and design.

Robbins, who has an artistic streak, is excited for the opportunity to put his skills to work for the new company.

Only after a couple weeks on the job, he feels like he has a good handle on what’s required to produce top-quality work and is looking forward to his new role at the company.

McLaughlin says that the work has been varied and interesting, but he’s ready to move on.

Digging post holes, however, is definitely one thing he says he won’t miss about the sign business.