Founded in 1946 by John F. Ruggles, Jr., Ruggles Sign has grown from a one-man shop on South Upper Street in Lexington to a sprawling 160,000 square foot facility, manufacturing custom signage for companies all over the world.
John F. Ruggles, Jr. grew up in Corbin, Kentucky, where his father operated a paint and wallpaper store. After studying at the University of Kentucky, John, Jr. left behind aspirations of becoming an attorney go to work in a neon shop purchased by his father, in Corbin. There he honed his skills at neon tube bending, along with his brother, Ester, who eventually came to work for John, Jr., when he opened his own shop in Lexington.
From modest beginnings, Ruggles eventually established a full-service sign company. Early successes of Ruggles Sign include the large freestanding sign for Parkette Drive-In Restaurant, a Lexington Landmark, and a sixty-foot globe for the Brussels World Fair!
In 1975, Ruggles bought out another local sign company, the Jim Ramsey Sign Company, which specialized in commercial or hand-painted signs. This addition to Ruggles’ expertise in neon and electric signs was a significant step toward lasting success in the sign industry. In 1977, the Ruggles Sign plant relocated to 304 North Upper Street in Lexington, where it remained for the next seventeen years until finding its current home in Versailles.
A family business from the start, John, Jr. welcomed granddaughter Anna to the company in 1985 and soon after she and her husband, Tim, assumed daily operations and management of the business. In 2000, Anna and Tim purchased Ruggles Sign . They are joined by another granddaughter, Elizabeth, National Sales & Marketing Coordinator for the company.
After 50 years in the industry, Mr. Ruggles continued to stop by almost daily to check on operations until his death in 2001. Mr. John F. Ruggles, Jr., once reflected back on his career in the sign business in this way: “I have enjoyed the sign business; I don’t know if I would have been a good lawyer.”