Editor’s note: This is the first of three articles looking at how JSJ Electrical Display manufactures and erects a new Jelly Belly sign.
FAIRFIELD — A landmark of a Jelly Belly sign is being born at the local offices of JSJ Electrical Display.
The sign is to be 70 feet tall and topped by an American flag. It will be an exclamation point of sorts, a can’t-miss-it showpiece to let Highway 12 drivers know they have arrived at the Jelly Belly visitors center and factory tour plant.
Building a sign such as this is a mixture of art and science.
Jelly Belly had previously been featured on a towering, red “Welcome to Fairfield” sign that stood in the Fairfield Auto Mall along Interstate 80. This sign had an 8-foot-tall, smiling Mr. Jelly Belly at the top. But the owner, the Fairfield Conference and Visitors Bureau, decided to remove the sign. It came down in May.
Jelly Belly Chairman of the Board Herman Rowland wanted a sign next to the Jelly Belly plant. He didn’t choose to simply move the old sign to the new location. Rather, Jelly Belly would start from scratch with a sign all its own.
Planning started in 2011, JSJ President Brian Schneider said. His company is the designer and builder.
JSJ Electrical has existed for 21 years, starting out in Benicia before moving to Fairfield in 2006. Schneider said former Fairfield City Manager Sean Quinn recruited the company.
“Sean Quinn convinced me Fairfield is the place to be,” Schneider said on a recent day in his office on Grobric Court.
JSJ Electrical already built several landmark Fairfield signs. It built the 78-foot-tall Cordelia Junction freeway advertising sign near the JSJ Electrical offices in 2012. It built the 78-foot-tall Paradise Valley freeway advertising sign on the other side of town in 2011.
One initial drawing for the new Jelly Belly sign had two pylons and a figure of Mr. Jelly Belly, holding up the Jelly Belly logo. The basic design was similar to signs that can be seen elsewhere. That proposal was rejected.
“We wanted to be not so traditional,” Schneider said.
Ultimately, Jelly Belly and JSJ settled on a main structure that would be a kind of wedge shape. Writing would be limited to “Jelly Belly,” “Factory Tours,” “Cafe” and “Exit.” The sign would have an electronic display to feature Jelly Belly events. Larry Koyle of JSJ Electrical Display did the design.
“It’s clean, simple, easy to read,” Schneider said.
JSJ Electrical Display put a crane truck on the sign site and suspended a banner from the top. Designers drove down Highway 12, seeing what height worked best for approaching motorists.
“We don’t just arbitrarily define the height of a sign,” Schneider said.
A striking feature of the sign will be a flag pole alongside it, extending 100 feet into the air. It will have a 15-foot by 10-foot American flag that will fly over the Jelly Belly sign.
The 70-foot-tall sign will start out as structural framing.
“It’s almost like an Erector Set we used to have when we were young,” Schneider said.
Over that framing will go an aluminum skin that will be tan and brown to match the nearby Jelly Belly building. Then will come the letters and artistic touches.
At this point, the action is shifting to the vast manufacturing room inside the metal JSJ Electrical Display building. That’s where the sign will be manufactured.
Meanwhile, the 8-foot-tall Mr. Jelly Belly figure left over from the now-dismantled “Welcome to Fairfield” sign sits in a corner of the manufacturing room. It has no place on the sign that’s being created. But it’s not headed for the scrap heap.
The fiberglass figure needs some scratches and peeling paint repaired after being out in the weather for years. Then the smiling Mr. Jelly Belly is to find a place on the grounds at Jelly Belly, where tourists will be able to pose for pictures with it.
Reach Barry Eberling at 427-6929, or email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/beberlingdr.