In 1904 Roy. R. Wiley along with his brother, Wallace, and W.S. Hough joined forces to produce white opal glass molded letters to push through a sign face and illuminate from the rear. This was a process that would create flexible-illumination. Hence the name: “Flexlume” was born.
After years of experimentation and perfection the small company saw room for growth and moved to the U.S. in 1911 from Canada to Buffalo, N.Y. with their first plant being at 1453 Niagara St. where they remained until briefly moving to 74 Kail in 1920 while constructing a 125,000 foot plant at 1100 Military Road which they occupied in January 1924. This was the world’s largest plant dedicated solely to the manufacture of electric signs.
The company continued to grow as high as 500 employees even through the depression with its solid customer base of financial institutes, automotive dealers and movie theatres. Many of Western New York’s classic marquees remaining today were built by Flexlume. By the late 1930’s the Wiley Bros. had left and Flexlume struggled and in 1942 with the onset of World War II Flexlume closed.
It was at this time that F.A. (Al) Rowell who had been operating his own company “White Electric Signs” since 1928 purchased the company and the bulk of its assets moving to his current location of 999 Main. In 1946 the company moved to its current location, 1464 Main St., where a more streamlined company has been producing some of Western New York’s greatest signs since.
Today Flexlume Signs continue to produce for and service these accounts and hundreds of others. These include M&T Bank, HSBC, Keybank, Northwest Savings Bank, the Buffalo Bills and Zippo.