Encyclopedia o f Chicago
Entries : Federal Sign and Signal Corp.
Federal Sign and Signal Corp.

Federal Sign and Signal Corp.

The Federal Electric Co., a manufacturer of electric signs, was incorporated in Illinois in 1901 by John Goehst and brothers John and James Gilchrist. In 1915, the company started making sirens. After spending a few years under the control of Chicago utilities titan Samuel Insull, the company became independent again in the 1930s, when it became the Federal Sign & Signal Corp. In 1958, Federal moved its main plant from 87th and State Streets on Chicago's South Side to Blue Island, the suburb a few miles to the southwest. By the middle of the 1960s, the company—a leader in the field of electric signs—was doing about $30 million in annual sales and had about 1,500 employees. After changing its name to the Federal Signal Corp. in 1975, the company's general offices were moved to suburban Oak Brook. By the end of the 1990s, when Federal Signal was a leading manufacturer of emergency vehicles and street sweepers as well as signs and sirens, the company approached $1 billion in annual sales and employed about 1,500 people in the Chicago area.