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History

The USI Story: "Drive Thru Solutions Experts"

Uni-Structures was founded in Kennesaw, Georgia in 1995 by Michael Barnes to service the QSR industry and become the go-to experts in their drive-thru environment.
Michael's vision to provide innovative, best-in-class drive thru components and image item solutions for QSR's was counter intuitive to the existing approach where drive thru components were not designed for future conversion and provided little functionality, ease of use or serviceability.

Michael combined his previous 15 years of experience in the sign industry with team members bringing expertise in engineering, design, manufacturing, installation and customer service. As a result, Uni-Structures initially developed and patented the first pivoting / self-returning canopy system for the drive thru to protect customers from the elements and to promote the specific brand image. The pivoting patent was then extended to the drive thru clearance bar to prevent oversize vehicles from becoming trapped in the drive-thru lane. Shortly thereafter, a patented design for manufactured building awnings was created, drastically reducing the cost of shipping and installation for the awnings. Today, there are tens of thousands of these patented products installed and almost every competitor has copied the Uni-Structures' technology.

To address the issues with inconsistent installations, Uni-Structures chose to hire and train teams of installation experts whenever possible rather than use third party installers. This was done initially to control the quality of product installation, but proved to significantly differentiate Uni-Structures from competitors who built-to-stock and drop shipped their products, leaving it up to the general contractor to install them. Providing the shipping, delivery and installation allows Uni-Structures to provide on time deliveries exactly when the building site superintendant needs the products. It also enhances our ability to be responsive to the locations' service requests resulting from accidents or weather conditions. Today our dedicated teams and the Uni-Structures trucks are recognized nationwide as a sign of quality, dependability, and on-time delivery.

For many years, menu boards in the drive-thru have been designed to allow inexpensive manufacturing with little thought given to service, flexibility or ease of use from the customer perspective. As menu boards have become bigger, expanded to day-parting, wings, and toppers, they have become even more expensive and difficult to service and maintain. Uni-Structures refuses to build products to match the existing quality and functionality. Instead, we focus on putting the customer's best interest at the center of our efforts. We design proprietary extrusions enabling the menu boards to be converted from static to digital and insert and hold down systems for the translites that minimize the labor required to change and update the static menu boards. These actions drastically improved the quality and flexibility of the overall systems. Uni-Structures now offers the highest quality, easiest to use, pre-sell and full static menu board solutions in the industry, at a value based price point more attractive than our competitor's boards. In addition, the Uni-Structures' designs can be customized by brand or modified to reproduce existing boards with the new upgrades. Since we have developed these menu boards as "hybrids," they can be also be converted to "digital displays" in the field in less than 30 minutes, to protect the customer's initial capital investment in the static enclosure. These static units are available as freestanding or mounted on the pivoting canopy pylon. 
Uni-Structures now offers the highest quality, easiest to use, pre-sell and full static menu board solutions in the industry, at a value based price point more attractive than our competitor's boards.
To complete our family of products, in 2010, Uni-Structures commercialized a family of exterior Sunlight Readable Digital Displays for the drive thru. Since filing for patents on our technologies for the Digital Drive-Thru, we have deployed and tested units around the US and after fourteen months, are proud to report, we have never had a single component fail in these units. These displays are not a "TV in a box" like our competitors build that require heaters and air conditioners creating additional points of failure. Our components are conformally coated to prevent moisture and condensation damage. A proprietary forced air system was designed and built to conquer solar and thermal loading without supplemental heaters or air conditioners. Planar Systems, Inc. was brought in as part of the team to insure a design that enabled virtually every component including fans and lamps would be field maintainable. Planar also began a patented process coating the front tempered glass with I/R and A/G films and bonding this glass directly to the LCD to enhance brightness and viewing angle of the displays in direct sunlight.

The Uni-Structures Exterior Displays are designed to the component level to be exterior world-class, 2800 NIT, direct sunlight readable displays. We welcome you to visit our showroom and roll one of these displays outside to see their remarkable performance yourself. The Uni-Structures expertise is also applied to building canopy applications over entrance and exit areas and to the creation of custom, brand specific image items ranging from balcony railings, ladders, and interior image applications.

Today, after fifteen successful years, Uni-Structures products are shipped and installed world-wide. Our vision is still the same and our solutions remain customer focused. The quality and value engineered pricing of our products attracts not only QSR customers when they require "drive-thru experts", but also builders, commercial developers and numerous applications of our expertise in other verticals nationwide.