Twilight’s founder, Bill Houston, was born in Toronto. He spent his early years in Malton, ON before moving to Alliston, ON for the rest of his childhood.
A child of first-generation Canadians, his mother’s parents were born in Germany and his father’s parents were born in Scotland.
Bill played several sports growing up, including hockey, soccer and baseball. Most notably, he played Jr. B hockey and was the captain of a Jr. C hockey team as well. Bill graduated high school in 1987 and attended Humber College in Toronto for CNC Programming and Operating.
During his breaks from school, he worked in production and installation for an Etobicoke signage company. Upon graduation, Bill worked in a machine programming and operating role for a manufacturer of industrial floor cleaning machines. Bill continued to help the signage company on weeknights and weekends as much as he could while working his new full-time job.
After a downturn in business in the late 80s, the owner of the signage company where Bill was working started looking to sell off his manufacturing branch. The company was looking to downsize and only retain the servicing and installation branches of the business.
Bill saw an opportunity to start his own business, and he offered to buy the manufacturing branch from his employer. He invested $13,000 and received a matching youth venture loan of $13,000 to get him started. Upon purchasing the existing equipment for $17,000 and assuming the lease for the building, Bill was left with $9,000 to start running the business. Bill quit his regular job, and at 20 years old with his first son William 3-months away, he began the arduous task of building Twilight Signs.
For the first 18 months, Twilight Signs operated as a subcontractor of Bill’s former employer. More than 90% of the business activity in 1990 was derived from that relationship, and Bill found himself working 90-hour weeks. The company consisted of 2 full-time employees and 2-3 part-time employees. This included Bill, his brother Jarett, and a few other friends and family.
However, the relationship was fairly restrictive and Twilight was unable to expand under those conditions, so the company became fully independent in early 1991. Twilight had severed the agreement with Bill’s former employer and began cultivating its own relationships with customers.
Twilight Signs operated for several years out of the original production facility, on Martin Grove Rd. in Etobicoke ON. There was steady growth for the first few years, until it came to a sudden halt in 1994 when a fire at the facility decimated the company.
An electrical issue had ignited a fire in the middle of the night, and there was a loss of nearly 75% resulting from the fire. Most of the existing equipment had been destroyed, and several ongoing projects were ruined and restarted. Luckily, there were no injuries resulting from the fire and the damage was purely economic.
Twilight was forced to temporarily occupy an adjoining space in the same industrial complex that had been unaffected by the fire. Production resumed in that space for several months, until a new permanent facility was found in Malton. The cost of re-establishing the company wiped out any retained profits Twilight had amassed since its inception.
Throughout the 90s, Twilight Signs became a valued signage partner for many recognizable brands, such as:
Coffee Time Donuts
During this growth period in the 90s, Twilight Signs grew by a 10x multiple despite the setback with the fire, and had about 15-20 full-time employees by 1999. Twilight Signs had also started to venture into international territory and had become an established presence in the signage industry by the year 2000.
As Twilight grew, it became increasingly necessary to upgrade to larger and larger facilities. The following timeline illustrates the history of Twilight’s headquarters:
1989-1994: Original production facility in Etobicoke, ON
1994-1999: Malton, ON
1999-2006: Mississauga, ON
2006-2010: Bolton, ON
2010-Present: Bolton, ON
In 2010, Twilight purchased its own facility in Bolton, which is now home to Twilight’s headquarters and production facility.
By this point, the company had continued to grow by double digits each year and had more than 30 employees in 2010. Twilight was partnering with countless recognizable brands in North America, and had further solidified itself as a major player in the signage industry.
Twilight Signs currently employs more than 50 employees at our facility in Bolton, ON. We regularly assist our partners throughout North America, and we’ve become a truly global partner as well. We’ve been involved in projects in the US, Mexico, Denmark, Switzerland, Serbia and China amongst many others.
Visit Our Partners on our website for a snapshot of all the brands we’ve partnered with in recent years
While Twilight Signs started out as a manufacturer, we are now a full-service solution provider.
Visit Our Process on our website to learn more about Twilight’s proven method for success.
You can also visit Our People on our website to learn about some of the great people on our team today!
Bill currently lives in Beeton ON with his partner Joanne and stepson Cooper. He still plays hockey regularly, and enjoys travelling to Hawaii and getting away from the cold winter in Canada.
He has four children and three grandchildren: William (30), Leona (28), Allison (26) and Melissa (23).
William is the Service and Installation Manager at Twilight Signs, and has 3 beautiful children with his wife.
Leona currently lives in Alliston, and attended McMaster for business and psychology before joining a large retail brand in a business development role.
Allison currently lives in Kitchener, and works as a dental hygienist for a local dentistry office.
Bill’s youngest daughter Melissa is currently finishing up her last year at George Brown in business.
Twilight Signs is much bigger than Bill Houston now, but he remains involved as a visionary for the company. Bill travels to Europe and Asia regularly to meet with various partners and stay ahead of the next trending concepts in global signage. He has passed along his wisdom to the sizeable team at Twilight, and he continues to make himself available during the creative brainstorming process for certain projects.