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News >  Spokane

Spokane’s Cassel brothers closing sign business after 35 years

UPDATED: Thu., June 4, 2020

Tracy Cassel with his brother, Sam, holds an original Autosox their company developed for food delivery cars that was sold all over the world. Cassel Promotions & Signs is closing after more than 35 years. (Colin Mulvany / The Spokesman-Review)
Tracy Cassel with his brother, Sam, holds an original Autosox their company developed for food delivery cars that was sold all over the world. Cassel Promotions & Signs is closing after more than 35 years. (Colin Mulvany / The Spokesman-Review)

After more than 35 years of creating signage for local events, sports teams and businesses, Cassel Promotions & Signs is permanently closing.

Cassel Promotions & Signs, at 130 S. Division St., was designing “quite a bit” of signage for the Spokane Indians, Spokane Chiefs and Gonzaga University along with large local and national companies before the coronavirus pandemic halted operations, said Tracy Cassel, who co-owns the business with his brother, Sam.

“COVID-19 was a gut punch with the closure of all sports,” Tracy Cassel said. “Those big ticket items we’ve had over the years left and, then, being kind of closed, our phone wasn’t ringing. My brother and I, we are in our 60s and said, ‘We might want to wind this thing down and move onto a new chapter of our lives.’”

Tracy Cassel founded the business in 1987 after owning a delivery-only deli in Spokane Valley. He created a 6-foot windsock that rotated in the wind and affixed it to his delivery van to get customers’ attention.

A local Domino’s Pizza franchise noticed the windsock and ordered a dozen, Tracy Cassel said.

Tracy partnered with Sam, who was working in advertising in Seattle at the time, to launch AutoSox USA to market the windsock. The brothers experimented with the windsock’s design, eventually scaling down its size.

“Orders came in by the thousands,” Sam Cassel said, referring to windsock sales. “Pizza Hut and Domino’s were the biggest customers out of the gate.”

The company expanded its in-house printing capabilities and began creating banners, vinyl wraps for vehicles and signage, including the “Cabbie,” which is a lighted sign that affixes to the top of vehicles with magnets and is widely used by delivery and taxicab drivers. They also offered apparel and other promotional items.

Cartop delivery signs were the “bread and butter” of the company, generating from $1 million to $2 million in revenue a year. Sales from local businesses generated from $500,000 to $800,000 in revenue annually, Sam Cassel said.

“We put signs up all over Spokane, and we developed great relationships with hundreds of customers in Spokane,” Tracy Cassel said.

Cassel’s Promotions & Signs not only gained popularity as a one-stop shop for signs in Spokane but with nationwide companies, such as Toyota.

“We had several layers of good, strong companies that we were fortunate enough to do business with to keep this little machine running,” Sam Cassel said.

Notable projects for the Cassel brothers include wrapping the First Interstate Center for the Arts with Lion King graphics when the musical came to Spokane and creating vinyl graphics for the U.S. Figure Skating Championships at the Spokane Arena.

The Cassels also developed a business relationship with Evel Knievel in the 1980s and did apparel licensing for the stunt performer. They also co-authored a book about Knievel, who authorized the work.

The Cassels will miss working with the company’s eight employees, some of whom have been with the company for more than 20 years.

“They sure made us look good,” Sam Cassel said. “We are going to miss them the most.”

Cassel’s Promotions & Signs is holding a liquidation sale beginning Monday.

In the meantime, the Cassels are completing orders for existing customers and preparing for retirement.

“I think we’ve made a mark in Spokane that will last for years. We want to express our appreciation to the Spokane business community for years of support,” Tracy Cassel said. “We had a lot of great customers across the city, and we’ll miss them.”

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