Stoughton, Brockton businessmen go Hollywood

by Vicki-Ann Downing
September 25, 2009

It isn’t just a Bridgewater cornfield that’s been transformed for the new movie starring Tom Cruise and Cameron Diaz.

A garage in Chelsea, an elderly housing complex in Boston and a kiosk in Woburn have been made over as well, thanks to businessmen Michael Cohen of Stoughton and Steve Fishman of Brockton. Cohen, 48, owner of Signs by J in Dorchester, and Fishman, 59, owner of Capeway Aluminum in Brockton, are teaming up to make the exterior of the Chelsea Department of Public Works garage look like a garage from the 1960s.

The moviemakers wanted forest green aluminum awnings with an ivory stripe to cover seven windows and a door at the garage. Fishman ordered the material from a supplier in Ohio, assembled the awnings at his company in Brockton, then boxed them for shipping to the site, where filming is expected to take place next week.

“We’ll have to watch the movie to see if the awnings are in there,” said Fishman, whose family business, founded in 1963, has seven full-time employees.

Fishman heard about the movie job through Cohen, whose company, on Tenean Street in Dorchester, has supplied awnings and signs for other films, including “The Departed” and “The Town,” both filmed in Boston, and “The Perfect Storm” in Gloucester.

In fact, Signs by J has been transforming storefronts for movies and commercials since 1978, when Cohen’s father-in-law owned the company and did the work for “The Brinks Job,” said Cohen.

“They’re good little jobs. It starts to add up quick,” said Cohen. “They give us a design, we do field measurements and manufacture the awnings.”

On Monday, movie crews were on Harrison Avenue in Boston to film a street scene for the Cruise-Diaz movie, Cohen said. Signs by J made an elderly housing complex look like a French bistro for that one and changed the face of another restaurant across the street.

Cohen said he was amazed at how quickly the area ca me alive with spectators eager to get a glimpse of the filming. Signs by J also manufactured a coffee kiosk for the movie’s set in Woburn.

The company, which Cohen owns with his brother-in-law, Ed Jagiello of Lakeville, has eight full-time employees and has been in business for 46 years. Cohen charged $8,000 for the Harrison Avenue work and $4,000 for the kiosk. Fishman said the aluminum awnings for the Chelsea garage cost $4,000 to buy and install.

“It’s unexpected work that comes through your door,” said Cohen. “They know I can get it done for them and that’s why they keep coming to me. I didn’t have the material they wanted for the garage, so I contacted Steve and he got it. I get the job done and they keep coming back.”

Vicki-Ann Downing can be reached at

Studio project secures big loan
NECN: Hollywood comes to Bridgewater - Sept 09



Share to