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FRANCHISE PLAYER Do You Fit the Plan?

ARCHITECTURAL

Sculpting Skills on Display

www.signshop.com

NUMBER 227 | MAY 2014

HOW-TO

LIGHTING

Sunny Side Up

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for retrofitting pylon signs Fast installation

Easy to install

No special tools

SignBOX II

Fast and easy to install with no special tools needed, SignBOX IITM creates the perfect grid of light for optimal even illumination. Designed for new or retrofit box signs with can depths over 5�. Available in single-sided and double-sided options.

May 2014

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28 24

Neon Can Do That BY PETER PERSZYK

It’s still a bit premature to think of an electric sign industry without neon.

28 34

An Insight into Accenting BY LORI SHRIDHARE

Merging lighting and signage.

In-depth with Retrofitting Cabinets BY FRITZ MEYNE, JR.

Successful cabinet lighting swap outs.

38

Banking on a New Monument BY ASHLEY BRAY

A joint effort results in an integrated identity sign.

Sign Builder Illustrated (Print ISSN 895-0555, Digital ISSN 2161-4709) (USPS#0015-805) (Canada Post Cust. #7204564) (Bluechip Int’l, Po Box 25542, London, ON N6C 6B2, Agreement # 41094515) is published monthly by Simmons-Boardman Publ. Corp, 55 Broad Street, 26th Floor, New York, NY 10004. Printed in the U.S.A. Periodicals postage paid at New York, NY and Additional mailing offices. Pricing, Qualified individual working in the sign industry may request a free subscription. Non-qualified subscriptions printed or digital version: 1 year US $48.00; foreign $96.00; foreign, air mail $196.00. 2 years US $75.00; foreign $150.00; foreign, air mail $350.00. BOTH Print & Digital Versions: 1 year US $75.00; foreign $150.00; foreign, air mail $250.00. 2 years US $102.00; foreign $204.00; foreign, air mail $404.00. Single copies are $36.00 ea. Subscriptions must be paid for in U.S. funds only. Copyright © Simmons-Boardman Publishing Corporation 2014. All rights reserved. Contents may not be

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Sign Builder Illustrated // May 2014

42 42

Architects on Display BY BRENDA MURPHY-NIEDERKORN

“Bending the Rules” in building an architectural design exhibit.

46 54

The Franchise Player BY MIKE ANTONIAK

Franchising promises success for those who fit the plan.

Planting the Message! BY JEFF WOOTEN

Don’t get buried by post-and-panel sign system work.

reproduced without permission. For reprint information contact: Arthur Sutley, Publisher (212) 620-7247 or asutley@sbpub.com. For Subscriptions, & address changes, please call (800) 895-4389, (402) 346-4740, Fax (402) 346-3670, e-mail circulation@sbpub.com or write to: Sign Builder Illustrated, Simmons-Boardman Publ. Corp, PO Box 1172, Skokie, IL 60076-8172. POSTMASTER: Send address changes to Sign Builder Illustrated, PO Box 1172, Skokie, IL 60076-8172. Instructional information provided in this magazine should only be performed by skilled crafts people with the proper equipment. The publisher and authors of information provided herein advise all readers to exercise care when engaging in any of the how-to activities published in the magazine. Further, the publisher and authors assume no liability for damages or injuries resulting from projects contained herein.

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Up FRONT

BY JEFF WOOTEN

May 2014, Vol. 28, No. 227 Sign Builder Illustrated (ISSN 0895-0555) print, (ISSN 2161-0709) digital is published by Simmons-Boardman Publishing Corporation

Light Your Way

EXECUTIVE OFFICES

President and Chairman ARTHUR J. McGINNIS, JR.

There are many possibilities for sign illumination.

Publisher ARTHUR J. SUTLEY 55 Broad Street, 26th floor New York, NY 10004 212/620-7247; fax: 212/633-1863 EDITORIAL EDITOR

Jeff Wooten

323 Clifton Street, Suite #7 Greenville, NC 27858 212/620-7244; fax: 212/633-1863 jwooten@sbpub.com

O

n January 1, the phase-out of longpopular 40-Watt and 60-Watt incandescent light bulbs took effect, at the behest of the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007, which was designed to promote the use of more energy-efficient compact fluorescent lamps, LED bulbs, and halogen-incandescent lighting. The news coverage ’round this time evoked a calm transition with some (less wattage!) and sparked a survivalist mentality with others (stock as many old incandescent bulbs as possible before they disappear off shelves forever!). It’s been some 135 years since Edison invented the first successful incandescent light source, so one can’t say that this light source didn’t have an impressive run, right? Now you may be wondering what this topic has to do with the sign industry (that is, apart from how to light the interior of your shop maybe). But this efficacy transition into general-purpose lighting over the past several years reminds me of what our industry went through with LED when that lighting component hit the scene ten to fifteen years ago and competed against neon and fluorescent. On June 1-5, LIGHTFAIR® International 2014 in Las Vegas is bringing together more than 140 lighting and design experts to discuss trends, technologies and tools, problem solving, retrofit savings, and more. It may have been 135 years since Edison revolutionized lighting, but it won’t take that long to pinpoint the next revolutions. It seems like we’re always preaching about diversification when it comes to projects for graphics providers and dimensional sign makers, but sign lighting today means more than just cabinets and channel letters. The Wild, Wild West landscape of opportunities just got a little bit better illuminated. Architectural enhancements, 6

Sign Builder Illustrated // May 2014

MANAGING EDITOR

streetlamp retrofits, and interior accent lighting for commercial, government, and residential clients are out there for your involvement. LEDs continue to drive conversation. Did you know that, based on analysis from iRunway (a technology consulting firm specializing in patent litigation and licensing), around 22,662 U.S. patents have been granted in the LED domain? 17,869 patents are related to LED technology and 4,793 patents are related to applications of LED, most of which were filed in the last five to ten years. One interesting trend to notice is how many LED display manufacturers have now moved/evolved into LED solid-state lighting, as well. But lots of patents mean lots of research on your end. Read the studies and tests out there. Lori Shridhare speaks with a company that has successfully merged general LED lighting applications with signage in “An Insight into Accenting” (Page 28). In the piece, Chris Kreuter, national sales manager of Insight Lighting, explains about LED: “Technology is only as good as the company that backs it…I think there needs to be a real understanding about accountability for products in today’s marketplace.” A great piece of advice for you and your customers:You get what you pay for. Meanwhile amidst our retrofit coverage, Peter Perszyk writes about why it’s a bit premature to bury neon for use in illumination applications (“Neon Can Do That,” page 24). Although Peter addresses some of the problems that may have led to neon’s decrease in popularity with modern-day shops (a significant time investment, fragility, installation questions, etc.), his story points out the advantages of this medium (“the neon tube is not just the light source—it is also the color and the shape”)

Ashley Bray

55 Broad Street, 26th Floor New York, NY 10004 212/620-7220; fax: 212/633-1863 abray@sbpub.com CONTRIBUTING WRITERS

Butch “Superfrog” Anton, Mike Antoniak, Jim Hingst, Fritz Meyne Jr., Brenda Murphy-Niederkorn, Peter Perszyk, Mark Roberts, Lori Shridhare, Randy Wright ART

Corporate Art Director Wendy Williams Designer Emily Cocheo PRODUCTION

Corporate Production Director Mary Conyers CIRCULATION

Circulation Director Maureen Cooney ADVERTISING SALES NATIONAL SALES DIRECTOR

Jeff Sutley 212/620-7233; fax: 212/633-1863 jeffsutley@sbpub.com WEST & MIDWEST REGIONAL SALES MANAGER

Kim Noa

212/620-7221; fax: 212/633-1863 knoa@sbpub.com Sign Builder Illustrated is published monthly. All rights reserved. Nothing herein may be reproduced in whole or in part without written permission of the publisher. To purchase PDF files of cover and layouts or hard copy reprints, please call Art Sutley at 212/620-7247 or e-mail asutley@sbpub.com. Circulation Dept. 800/895-4389

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Dispatches

DESIGNING DREAMS AT MAKERSPACE Overland Park, Kansas—While most public libraries offer Internet access, book clubs, and quiet study areas, the Johnson County Library in Overland Park, Kansas, has a new addition that is sure to excite the most jaded of book borrowers among us: MakerSpace. Located in a special room within the Johnson County Library, MakerSpace provides guests of the library with an opportunity to create unique, computer-enhanced projects (ranging from newsletters and Web sites to stuffed animals and chess sets) using an impressive selection of software programs and MakerSpace hardware. But before MakerSpace could become a success, it needed a vision and an image. That image was conceptualized and cre8

Sign Builder Illustrated // May 2014

ated by Signs By Tomorrow-Overland Park, winner of the 2012 Kansas Minority-owned Business of the Year Retail Firm. The Signs By Tomorrow design team began simply with a fresh coat of paint. The warm, earthy tone of the entranceway was designed to stand in stark juxtaposition to the metal cogs arrayed around the doors. The gears were designed and cut from MAX-Metal, a High-Density Polyethylene core surrounded by brushed aluminum. The gears and cogs (all of varying dimensions) were then applied to the outer wall to create depth. Custom-cut, routed letters make up the MakerSpace sign, located directly above the entrance doors. In a stroke of design aplomb, the edges of the letters were intentionally left irregular and coarse to create a hand-manufactured impression. Further signshop.com

adding to the industrial feel, all of the hardware used to affix the letters to their posts was left exposed. These letters were then covered with 3M 1080 Matte Anthracite carbon fiber vinyl, which lended an antiquated look. Because the majority of the gears were attached to the wall and immobile, the MakerSpace designers decided that their cutting-edge design could be improved with motion. So a background of gears in various sizes was installed behind the MakerSpace letters. Simple, quiet motors turn the gears, which add motion and fluidity to the entranceway. Meanwhile LED lighting was installed behind the lettering to create additional depth.

Simple, quiet motors turn a background of varioussized gears, which adds motion and fluidity to the entranceway. The stark wood and glass doors of MakerSpace created another design challenge. With readily available design space, Signs By Tomorrow decided to use the doors to their advantage. Avery frosted vinyl was applied to the glass entrance doors, and the different-sized appliqués again created the illusion of motion.

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New Haven Print Expands

Hanover Park, Illinois—Over the course of its thirty-three-year history New Haven Print (www.newhavenprint.com) in Fort Wayne, Indiana has grown from a copy and “instant” printing shop to a commercial-quality printing company. While still offering instant printing, they realized the need early on to invest in technology innovations to expand their capabilities. Recently the company expanded into wide format inkjet printing with the purchase of a Fujifilm Acuity LED 1600 UV inkjet printer. “Wide format is a great add-on,” says Craig Dellinger, president of New Haven Print. “We'll continue to grow this aspect of the business, as we must remain competitive.” Dellinger chose the hybrid Acuity printer for its ability to handle rollto-roll and rigid boards. “The most defining feature of the Acuity LED is the flexibility; the capability to do boards is excellent,” he says. “I can print on virtually anything, and I haven’t found a substrate that didn’t print great.” Dellinger works with a number of ad agencies and prints everything from in-store signage to banners to flyers. He's looking to do more with three-layer printing and window clings in the future. “Customers like to see new technology, and we’ve always kept up with innovations in the industry,” he says.

May 2014 // Sign Builder Illustrated

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Dispatches +

Black Creek, Georgia— ORAFOL Americas Inc., has partnered with Signarama to provide materials for the franchise’s worldwide rebranding efforts. ORAFOL Americas has also been named Signarama’s vendor of choice for vinyl products used throughout its network. In 2013, Signarama embarked on a branding research project that reaffirmed its position as a “premium” brand that provides expertise and a customized approach. Signarama’s new branding— including a contemporary color scheme, new logo, tagline, and icon—is being rolled out across all franchise locations this year. Signarama will use a variety of ORAFOL Graphic Products during this process to create new window graphics, fleet wraps, and lobby displays. “Our franchisees are very excited about the new branding, and some have already completed their updates,” said Signarama president “JT” Jim Tatem. “We have a longstanding relationship with ORAFOL Americas. Using their vinyl

materials during our rebranding process was a natural, as all our franchisees are quite familiar with them.” As a part of being vendor of choice, ORAFOL Graphic Products are used for franchisee training. Before opening a store, every franchisee attends a twoweek school at Signarama’s corporate headquarters that features hands-on training using ORAFOL Graphic Products. Attendees learn to work with a variety of premium vinyl graphic films, digital media, laminating films, and reflective products for everything from signage to graphics projects to digital printing applications.

Digital Displays Will be a Slam Dunk Brookings, South Dakota—Daktronics, Inc., has partnered with Mississippi State University (MSU) to provide an integrated LED high-definition centerhung video display system for Humphrey Coliseum, home of its Bulldogs basketball teams. The system will be ready for the 2014-15 men’s and women’s basketball seasons, and it includes

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four main video displays and two ring displays suspended above the court. The four main video displays of the centerhung will feature tight 6 millimeter line spacing and measure more than 8 feet high-by-15.5 feet wide. The middle ring display will measure 2 feet high-bymore than 66 feet wide. The bottom ring display will measure 2 feet high-by-more than 62 feet wide. Both ring displays will feature 10 millimeter line spacing and provide additional statistics and other game information. They also give options for sponsor highlights. “Our goal is to continually improve the fan experience here at Mississippi State,” said Scott Wetherbee, MSU senior associate athletic director for External Affairs. “With the new technology, the LED video board will enhance our fan experience to all who visit Humphrey Coliseum.”

Sign Builder Illustrated // May 2014

State Legislature Approves Sign Bill

Madison, Wisconsin—On February 18, 2014, the Wisconsin Legislature unanimously approved a bill that exempts sign companies from hiring licensed contractors to install and maintain signs and light fixtures. In another example of how a coalition of forces can positively i m p a c t t h e s i g n i n d u s t r y, International Sign Association Manager of State and Local Government Affairs James Carpentier worked with the legislature (along with Christopher Ruditys, executive director of the Wisconsin Sign Association; Roger Osterman of RLO Signs; and a coalition of other organizations) to get this new bill passed. “Without this bill, many Wisconsin sign companies would be out of business,” Osterman posted on LinkedIn. “We counted greatly on James’s experience to get this done right. It took over a year, but James stayed on top of it for us to the end.” Although state officials agreed last year to exempt sign companies from the law that was scheduled to become effective on April 1, 2014, the language was not clear and could have easily had different interpretations by another administration. ISA, WSA, and the coalition have been working over the past ten months with elected officials to amend this statute so it clearly exempts not only signs from this law but also the repair of light fixtures.

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PHOTO: WISCONSIN DEPT. OF TOURISM.

ORAFOL Americas Partners with Signarama

© 2014 OSRAM SYLVANIA

www.osram-americas.com/signage

Light is creative LED building blocks for eye-catching signage BoxLED ® Plus and BoxLED Plus DS LED Chain Modules — Ideal signage solutions to light single-sided and double-sided box signs — Flat-Ray optical lens technology delivers uniform illumination of the sign face

— Long-life, energy-efficient alternative to fluorescent lamps in new construction and retrofit applications — Mounting track and accessories make installing the modules fast and accurate

Make your signage pop with advanced lighting solutions from OSRAM SYLVANIA. Learn more by contacting our exclusive nationwide distributor, N. Glantz & Sons, at 1-866-645-2689 or visit www.nglantz.com. Light is OSRAM

SignSHOW D I G I TA L P R I N T I N G E Q U I PM E N T/ S U P P L I E S Roland DGA Announces imagiNATION 2014 End User Conference imagiNATION™ 2014 is a one-day event designed to inspire, educate, and empower Roland DGA inkjet printer owners and operators. This conference—offering inkjet user attendees a wealth of information, practical tips, and useful resources—will be co-located with the Specialty Graphic Imaging Association (SGIA) Expo, on October 21, 2014 at the Las Vegas Convention Center. Roland DGA’s imagiNATION 2014 conference will kick off with breakfast and a keynote address presented by NASCAR legend, racing team owner, and Roland user Richard Childress. Following the keynote, attendees have the option of following one of four workshop tracks (Productivity and Business Management, New Applications, Software and Design, or Color Management) or creating a custom curriculum. imagiNATION 2014 will conclude with a cocktail reception and valuable door prizes. www.rolanddga.com/imagination

LED MODULES/TUBES/STRIPS Introducing the Ventex Layout Library Ventex tasked its database team to come up with a Web-based solution producing real-time layouts that works for lighting service companies, sign service companies, contractors, and distributors. The resulting Ventex Layout Library provides an easy-to-browse catalog of the various sign types and sizes within a sign family. Site surveys are completed quickly and accurately with a minimum of field time and effort. Hard copies are also available for offline field use. The early returns are in and the service companies love it because their crews arrive with all the information and material they need. There is no wasted time calculating materials and measurements. Ordering could not be any easier! Field technicians simply identify the type and quantity of each sign at the site, select the matching sign layout in the database, and hit submit/print to send the layout and Bill of Materials to a local Ventex distributor. Repeat the process for each sign at the site. 800/510-5400; www.ventextech.com

ROUTERS/ENGR AVERS Kern Laser Systems Now Available with 250W Laser Source The new 250W laser from Kern Laser Systems is capable of cutting up to .125-inch mild steel, .040-inch stainless steel, 3-inch foam, 1-inch acrylic with a fire polished edge, and 1-inch wood. The 250W laser is a great addition to Kern’s lineup and gives customers an option that fits between the 150W and 400W lasers. This new laser is also lighter and starts at a lower price point than a 400W (while still capable of cutting thick acrylic and light-gauge steel and aluminum). The new 250W laser comes standard with a full two-year warranty. 218/631-2755; www.kernlasers.com

Check Out All LaserBits has to Offer! The 2014 LaserBits catalog is filled with new products and materials for laser engraving, as well as tips, settings, and ideas. The company's expanded product line includes Acrylic, Acrylic Sheets, CerMark, Marble & Granite, Wood Gifts, Color Fill and Masking products, and so much more. Each product is laser-tested for top-quality results. For example, the company’s acrylic sheet products produce the best possible engraving and cutting creations. These sheets are great for cutting fixtures and ornaments or creating plaque plates and embellishments for plaques. They are available in clear, colored opaque, and transparent colors, either cast or extruded, and in 1/16-inch, 1/8-inch, or 1/4-inch thickness. The Clear Acrylic Sheets are available in extruded and cast 12-by-24-inch and 24-by-48-inch sheets. Meanwhile the Colored Acrylic Sheets come in five fluorescent colors (plus solid white and black). 800/733-7705; www.laserbits.com

SAFETY PRODUCTS Fulham FREELITE Photoluminescent Emergency Exit Signs Fulham announces its expanded line of FREELITE™ brand photoluminescent (glow-in-the-dark) emergency exit signs. FREELITE photoluminescent emergency exit signs require no batteries or electrical power other than a building’s normal existing ambient light (minimum five-foot candles). FREELITE technology absorbs light when it is available, then the self-illuminating materials in the signs shine bright when the lights go out. These LEED Points-qualified signs do not need testing or maintenance (other than the occasional dusting), and they won’t fail during power loss. FREELITE technology is Tritium-free (non-radioactive) and fully recyclable. FREELITE emergency exit signs are available in a variety of colors and styles to integrate seamlessly into any style of architecture. www.fulham.com

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Sign Builder Illustrated // May 2014

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Fast is as slow as we go. Our fastest printing, sharpest quality UV LED flatbed ever. Faster turnarounds along with accurate print details are the hallmarks of the new JFX500-2131 flatbed. Ideal for all types of rigid signage and displays, this quick curing, larger area UV LED flatbed can fly. Engineered to fulfill your need for speed, the JFX500-2131 can turn out up to 20 4x8 boards an hour in CMYK, and up to 15 boards an hour using white ink. All without sacrificing quality, economy and ease of operation.

NOW AVAILABLE  B A C K L I T D I S P L AY S  EXHIBITIONS & TRADE SHOWS  INTERIOR & EXTERIOR SIGNAGE

Max CMYK 645 sqft/hr Max CMYK+W 484 sqft/hr

© 2014 Mimaki USA, Inc.

SignSHOW S I G N B L A N K S / PA N E L S / S U B ST R AT E S Piedmont Plastics Launches New Product Line, Piedmont Sign Grade Piedmont Plastics introduces the Piedmont Sign Grade® (PSG) product line for customers in the sign and graphics market. The new PSG product line includes AluPOLY® aluminum composite material, Print TUFF™ printable polypropylene, and SupraFLEX™ banner material, which is available in Horizon (front lit), Breeze (mesh), and Eclipse (two-sided block out). The PSG line will provide customers with local inventory, ease of availability, and customer-specific stocking capabilities. The products will be available nationwide through area distribution centers strategically placed across the country. www.piedmontplastics.com

SIGN FRAMES PosterGarden Introduces a Tension Fabric Display Unlike Any Other A classic childhood toy has inspired the latest tension fabric display systems from PosterGarden. Called the Varia.Sophora, the innovative display utilizes central hubs, straight and curved aluminum tubing, and connectors much like those found in Tinker Toys™ to create a wide range of unique frame shapes and styles and bring to life just about any idea that exhibitors can conjure up. The Varia.Sophora features a completely tool-less assembly, which makes it easy to set up. The solid aluminum hubs and connectors fit together with two-inch straight and curved aluminum tubing with simple push-button connectors. Full-color graphics (printed on PosterGarden’s EcoKnit fabric) slip right over the frame and secure in a unique pillowcase and zipper design. LCD monitors and tablets can be added to the display with simple connectors, and plans are in the works to add a countertop option and shelving accessories. www.postergarden.com

S O F T WA R E - D E S I G N / P R I N T/ R O U T E / E ST I M AT E CorelDRAW Graphics Suite X7 Gives Users the Power to Design Their Way With a redesigned and highly customizable user interface, CorelDRAW® Graphics Suite X7 from Corel is tailored to each user’s workflow, offering new ways to increase productivity during every step of the design process. In addition, multicore and native 64-bit support allows users to run multiple applications and process large files with ease. New/enhanced features include: Photo-Editing Tools in PHOTO-PAINT (create unique images with pressure-sensitive liquid tools and camera effects); Fountain Fills (get better results faster with total control over fills and transparency); Font Playground (quickly and easily browse, experiment with, and choose the perfect font); QR Code Generator (create QR codes that feature colors, images, and text); Built-in Content Exchange (collaborate easily by sharing vector, bitmap, and fountain fills with the community through this online repository); and more. www.corel.com/coreldraw

VEHICLE GRAPHICS 3M Wrap Film Series 1080 Adds Five More Colors to Lineup 3M™ Wrap Film Series 1080 from 3M Commercial Graphics continues to expand its list of color offerings, giving graphics installers and car owners an array of choices to create head-turning looks for vehicles. The new offerings include: Satin White Aluminum 1080-S120, Matte Indigo 1080-M27, Matte Deep Black 1080-M22, Gloss Deep Blue Metallic 1080-G217, and Gloss Charcoal Metallic 1080- G211. Film Series 1080 now has fifty-five finish, texture, and color variations. With no need for printing or an overlaminate, the film can be applied as soon as the package is opened. The 3.5-mil dual-cast film has just the right amount of rigidity to allow easy handling, and it can also be slid and repositioned during installation thanks to air-release channels and a pressure-activated adhesive that helps prevent air bubbles. With sixty-inch-wide rolls, installers can quickly cover entire vehicle sections without seams. www.3mgraphics.com/1080

WALL GRAPH ICS New Wallcovering Products from Coveris Advanced Coatings Coveris Advanced Coatings introduces two new wallcovering products, Magic® PEBBLE™ and WEAVE™. Both materials are suitable for solvent, eco-solvent, latex, and UV-curable inks. PEBBLE is a 21.3-mil paperbacked textured vinyl wallcovering with a bold stucco-like surface that adds depth to designs and wall graphics while hiding surface imperfections. WEAVE is a 14.5-mil paperbacked textured vinyl wallcovering with a traditional woven appearance that creates a beautiful canvas finish while hiding surface imperfections. The unique surfaces of PEBBLE and WEAVE make them ideal for murals, wallcoverings, POP displays, and decals. Both wallcoverings are available in 24 inches-by-15 feet and 54 inches-by-150 feet sizes. www.coverisadvancedcoatings.com

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Sign Builder Illustrated // May 2014

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Grow your sign business with the name you trust

New Roland DisplayStudio™ makes it easy to offer your customers dynamic digital signage The key to growing your business is keeping up with customers’ ever-changing needs. Today, that means digital signage should complement your existing services. Your customers already trust you with banners, wraps and point-of-purchase graphics. Now with Roland DisplayStudio, you can deliver powerful digital signage that keeps them coming back for more. Roland DisplayStudio provides everything you need to get started: commercial grade LCD panels, digital media players and intuitive software for building compelling multimedia presentations on demand. Plus, Roland's world-class support, training, and 3-Year Trouble-Free Warranty come standard. All from the company that signmakers have trusted for over 25 years. Ready? It's grow time.

For details, visit www.rolanddga.com/displaystudio

HOW-TO

BY RANDY WRIGHT

Electric

NEC 2014 Review, Part Two

Changes to the 2014 NEC, concerning the sign industry, for Articles 600.21 to 600.33.

N

ow that the 2014 NEC National Electric Code is in effect, let’s continue our look at the current changes made to it affecting signs and outline lighting. For clarification, each change will be presented in a red font, while my commentary about it will be italicized in the following paragraph. Last issue, I looked at Articles 600.2 to 600.12 under Chapter 6 Special Equipment, so let’s review the remainder now!

600.21 BALLASTS, TRANSFORMERS, ELECTRONIC POWER SUPPLIES, AND CLASS 2 POWER SOURCES. Ballasts, transformers, electronic power supplies, and Class 2 power sources shall be of the self-contained type or be enclosed by placement in a listed sign body or listed separate enclosure.

(B) Location. Ballasts, transformers, electronic power supplies, and Class 2 power sources shall be installed as near to the lamps or neon tubing as practicable to keep the secondary conductors as short as possible. (C) Wet Location. Ballasts, transformers, electronic power supplies, and Class 2 power sources used in wet locations shall be of the weatherproof type or be of the outdoor type and protected from the weather by placement in a sign body or separate enclosure. (D) Working Space. A working space at least 900 mm (3 ft) high × 900 mm (3 ft) wide × 900 mm (3 ft) deep shall be provided at each ballast, transformer, electronic power supply, and Class 2 power source or at its enclosure where not installed in a sign. (E) Attic and Soffit Locations. Ballasts,

ALL PHOTOS: SHUTTERSTOCK.COM

(A) Accessibility. Ballasts, transformers, electronic power supplies, and Class 2 power

sources shall be located where accessible and shall be securely fastened in place.

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Sign Builder Illustrated // May 2014

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SWIM WITH THE BIG FISH

Quasar3

US LED

|

6807 PORTWEST DR

Saver3

|

HOUSTON, TX 77024

Point3

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T 866 972 9191

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info@usled.com

|

www.usled.com

transformers, electronic power supplies, and Class 2 power sources shall be permitted to be located in attics and soffits, provided there is an access door at least 900 mm × 562.5 mm (36 in. × 22-1⁄2 in.) and a passageway of at least 900 mm (3 ft) high × 600 mm (2 ft) wide with a suitable permanent walkway at least 300 mm (12 in.) wide extending from the point of entry to each component. At least one lighting outlet containing a switch or controlled by a wall switch shall be installed in such spaces. At least one point of control shall be at the usual

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point of entry to these spaces. The lighting outlet shall be provided at or near the equipment requiring servicing. (F) Suspended Ceilings. Ballasts, transformers, electronic power supplies, and Class 2 power sources shall be permitted to be located above suspended ceilings, provided that their enclosures are securely fastened in place and not dependent on the suspendedceiling grid for support. Ballasts transformers, and electronic power supplies installed in suspended ceilings shall not

Sign Builder Illustrated // May 2014

be connected to the branch circuit by flexible cord. Comment: The title was rearranged and “Class 2 power sources” was added. The other sections above were cleaned up to reflect these changes. Please note that Class 2 is now “sources” not “supplies;” this change includes the other power equipment available today.

600.32 NEON SECONDARY-CIRCUIT WIRING, OVER 1000 VOLTS, NOMINAL. (A) Wiring Methods.

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(1) Installation. Conductors shall be installed in rigid metal conduit, intermediate metal conduit, liquidtight flexible nonmetallic conduit, flexible metal conduit, liquidtight flexible metal conduit, electrical metallic tubing, metal enclosures, on insulators in metal raceways, or in other equipment listed for use with neon secondary circuits over 1000 volts. Comment: The acronyms “PVC” and “RTRC” were placed in the code during the last code cycle quite artfully and needed to be removed this cycle.

PERMANENT PROFESSIONALISM Speak to your constituents or show your school colors with dimensional letters and customized logos. Our cast metal letters and plaques are bold, classic and come with our lifetime guarantee.

600.33 LED SIGN ILLUMINATION SYSTEMS, SECONDARY WIRING. The wiring methods and materials shall be installed in accordance with the sign manufacturer’s installation instructions using any applicable wiring methods from Chapter 3 and the requirements for Class 2 circuits contained in Part III of Article 725, as applicable. Comment: The word “applicable” was added to clarify that all of Article 725 does not apply to signs and LEDs. The code panel has worked extensively to provide requirements for signs in the sign section exclusively. The only reference left is to the cable table, and hopefully, with the adoption of UL 2592, that will end next cycle.

LETTERS & PLAQUES 1-800-538-8377

signletters.com C

M

Y

CM

MY

CY CMY

K

(A) Insulation and Sizing of Class 2 Conductors. Listed Class 2 cable that complies with Table shall be installed on the load side of the Class 2 power source. The conductors shall have an ampacity not less than the load to be supplied and shall not be sized smaller than 22 AWG. Comment: The table reference above was omitted, which should be 725.154. Hopefully next cycle we can refer to the new UL standard 2592 and end all the confusion about signs and Article 725. (1) Wet Locations. Class 2 cable used in a wet location shall be identified for use in wet locations or have a moistureimpervious metal sheath. (2) Other Locations. In other locations, any applicable cable permitted in Table 725.154 shall be permitted to be used. Comment: This is the last reference to Article 725 until the new UL 2592 is accepted. Any questions or comments can be sent to randy@ussc.org. signshop.com

May 2014 // Sign Builder Illustrated

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HOW-TO

BY JIM HINGST

Business Management

Correcting Cash Flow Problems

have more money coming in than you do going out.

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I

n the business world, who hasn’t heard that “cash is king?” Someone (no one really knows who) coined the phrase a long time ago in the late ’80s. The phrase stuck, and it is now ingrained in our financial vocabulary. This pronouncement emphasizes the paramount importance of having more cash coming into your business than the amount of cash flowing out of it. Cash is arguably just as important (if not more important) than sales and profits. That’s not to say that sales and profits aren’t important. They are. But here’s my point: Companies usually go out of business not because they’re unprofitable, but rather because they can’t pay their bills. Having record-breaking sales at healthy profit

Sign Builder Illustrated // May 2014

margins is laudable, but you must convert your receivables into cold, hard cash. While it may seem that I’m stating the obvious, it can’t be all that obvious. The reality is that negative cash flow is a predicament that nearly half of all small businesses face.

THE IMPORTANCE OF A CASH FLOW STATEMENT Are you getting a monthly cash flow statement from your accountant? If not, it’s probably a worthwhile expenditure. The purpose of the cash flow statement is to track how much cash is added to your coffers and how much is subtracted. It also provides you with a picture of where your money is coming from, as well as how your money is being spent. If you have any investors backing you, this will certainly interest them. Getting a monthly cash flow statement is your early warning system, which can alert you to those manageable minor problems before they grow into major insurmountable problems. Many shops get into financial trouble because the owner or manager isn’t tracking their cash position. Cash flow statements can be structured in a number of different formats. Some of these formats can be difficult to understand. Regardless of the format of the report, it should present some basic information. As a starting point, the cash flow statement should provide with your cash on hand at the beginning of each month. This is your starting point. Added to this are your cash receipts—which consist of cash sales, collections from accounts receivables, deposits (on any jobs that you are starting), and loans, as well as any additional money that you might add to your business. Subtracted from this sum is cash paid out— which consist of any purchases of raw materials, gross wages, payroll expenses, advertising ex-

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ALL PHOTOS: SHUTTERSTOCK.COM

Make sure you

penses, etc. The result is the total cash available.

IMPROVING YOUR CASH FLOW Monitoring your shop’s cash flow— whether you do it on a monthly basis or on some other schedule—will help you adjust your business practices, so you can meet your immediate financial obligations. It will also help you determine your upcoming needs for cash or credit and anticipate any potential problems. If the money flowing out of your business exceeds the amount coming in, the fiscal health of your business stands on a precarious footing. Here are a few suggestions to help improve your shop’s cash flow: ☞ Require that a customer put down a 50 percent deposit on any project. This is one of the best solutions for improving your cash flow, as well as one of the oldest practices in the sign industry. This can offset your purchases of raw materials and labor costs. Payment in full of the balance upon completion of the job can eliminate any collection problems.

☞ Encourage cash payments or credit card payments. But whenever customers pay by check, make a quick beeline to the bank and deposit them immediately. ☞ If you extend terms to customers, provide discounts for payments on balances due when customers pay within thirty days. That way you

will decrease the time between the sale and the payment. ☞ Develop an aging report categorizing the aging of your accounts receivable. In a spreadsheet, list past “due balances” in columns for “1 to 30 Days,” “31 to 60 Days,” and “61 to 90 Days.” Assign the responsibility for the aging report to one of your employees, who can

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make the necessary collection calls. Many businesses get into hot water when their expenditures increase faster than their sales. Maintain a tight control on any discretionary expenses. Obviously raw materials ordered into a job are essential. But many other purchases are often unnecessary. Formalized purchasing practices within your shop can help reign in frivolous or wasteful spending. ☞ Don’t tie your cash up in excessive inventory. Sign shops don’t need a huge stockpile of raw materials to operate efficiently. Keep your stock of materials at a bare bones minimum. Periodically review your inventory with an eye for reducing it. As best, you can get in the practice of ordering into the job. Recognize that the value that your sign supply distributor provides is to supply you with the materials that you need, when you need them. ☞ Preserve your relationships and good standing with your sign supply distributors by paying them within the terms of sale. That way, when you are in a jam and need additional time to pay your bills, your distributors will be more likely to grant you an extension. ☞ Wait until the deadline to make your payments. While I recommend paying your distributor in a timely manner, that does not mean that you need to pay the bill before it’s due.Waiting until the deadline will improve your available cash. Until you build up your cash reserves, your shop will likely be in a vulnerable financial position. If your business is relatively young, you may need to take out additional loans. Just be aware that your interest rate will likely be less than desirable. If the rate is unpalatable, then you may resort to infusing your business with additional cash from your personal bank account.

Reimer explains that if you extend a customer a $10,000 credit line when your profit margin is 15 percent, you’re making a $10,000 investment in hopes of making $1,500 in 30 days. “If you don’t get paid or get paid late, you’re out of not only the profits but also the materials and expenses needed to make the sale,” he says. “Understand the risks and ensure that your return on investment is within your expectations.” Any time that you extend credit, the

follow-up with that customer is crucial. Send statements and communicate the importance of timely payments with your customers. “In many cases, customers will test your responsiveness to late payments to see how long they can stretch things out,” says Reimer. “Keep your customers current. Receivables at the 90-day ‘past due’ date only typically have a 60 to 65 percent chance of collection, which rapidly decreases as time advances.”

FINAL THOUGHTS ON EXTENDING CREDIT In the excitement of closing a big deal, it’s very easy for a sales person to extend credit, without giving the decision much thought. That big deal can result in a big mistake. “Making the sale isn’t always the best thing for your business if you don’t get paid,” says Tim Reimer, controller for Nekoosa Holdings, Inc. “Try and think of the ‘return on investment’ for every decision that you make which involves cash.” signshop.com

May 2014 // Sign Builder Illustrated

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Neon / BY PETER PERSZYK//////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////

Neon Can Do That It’s still a bit premature to think of an electric sign industry without neon.

Expanding neon tubes help enrich the overall dimension of this sun-and-moon sign.

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Sign Builder Illustrated // May 2014

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ALL PHOTOS: PETER PERSZYK.

ith the variety of LED lights and modules out there available to sign builders still in its growth phase, spin doctors may have you thinking neon is on the way out. However rigidity is the key to successfully using neon. By itself, the tube is not just the light source—it is also the color and the shape. It is linear, lucid, and light. No other medium in the electric sign industry comes close.

Using neon for the simple word “of” and the straight line make this sign quite eye-catching. signshop.com

May 2014 // Sign Builder Illustrated

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Top left: Neon tubes have filled the need for highlighting the outside perimeter of a sign cabinet. Top right: A cocktail glass, with its soft blue color and inverted cone shape, is a favorite neon icon. Bottom left: A simple, foreshortened circle is a favorite example of a sign featuring neon accents. Bottom right: Neon doesn’t have to be bound to (or by) the sign 100 percent.

And keep in mind that you still see classic neon signs in operation, which, based on their longevity, does a good job of displaying a further level of competency and quality in the product. But if there is a reason for neon failing in the signage industry, it could be attributed to its complexity. The requirements for neon tube fabrication have long been roadblocks to its widespread usage. Fragility and high voltage have also long plagued this medium in the sign industry, as has long-standing ambiguity on just what makes a safe and simple neon installation. But let’s move past fabrication and focus on appearance. From a design standpoint, the question may be: “So what can neon do here?” The best reply: “Well what can it not do?”

Script.

With only the neon tube, a sign might be complete and functional. Script neon, designed in the form of cursive writing, needs limited support or block-out paint. The electrical connections at each end need sufficient insulation based on the high-voltage requirement, but the illumination along the length of the glass tube does not. Again the neon tube’s rigidity is the key here. Plug the tube into the right transformer, and two parts make a sign! One often sees open-face neon signs across the face of a stucco or brick façade. With a remotely mounted power supply, a red neon tube glows in the night, spreading light across the building and beckoning passers-by.

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One still sees classic neon signs in operation, which, based on their longevity, does a good job of displaying a further level of competency and quality in the product. Shapes.

Bending the neon glass tube takes a good level of skill. The bender’s ability to form neon into any shape equates to simplified yet communicative advertising. Popular shapes include flowers or (my favorite) the cocktail/martini glass.

Sign Builder Illustrated // May 2014

Neon has become synonymous with several businesses. These establishments sport neon signs to carry along that friendly, yet casual, atmosphere. Some of the most viewed glowing electric shapes in the world are farreaching, elaborate neon tubes at major airports. Have questions if they’re calming? Comforting? Then check out the amazing neon animation inside Chicago O’Hare, as well as those green and red curved wisps as you race down the corridors of Hartsfield in Atlanta.

Outline. The

ability to form a glass tube to follow the shape of a letter has always been and still remains the forte of neon lighting. The letter perimeter helps to bind the flow of the neon glass, but a letter face does not bind the glow of the neon tube. signshop.com

This classic rendition of an electric channel letter is a remarkable beacon for many a business. Top that with our human vision selecting red as the easiest color to see. The end-result is that the vibrant red glow is a basic neon tube. Outlines are often the basis to what the sign becomes only at night. Neon tubes have filled a long-time need of illuminating the outside perimeter of a sign cabinet, object (or a building itself). A twin row of neon tubes is able to run out across a facade and electrically back with a single

Mixing Colors Because the neon tube is the illumination source, we see shapes created by the bent glass in a very different way (as opposed to seeing light only as a reflection or light passing through the color of a sign face). Color becomes a singular thing, so it can be combined and not over powered. Color can be combined to give a variation not directly available in the color pallet (pictured, below). Differently colored neon tubes may be distinct when viewed close-up in the daylight, but these tubes visually combine at night to form a more exotic look. Color also helps neon to delineate a letter shape. For example, a cool green color expands to the outside of the channel letter. While it does not reflect well from the perimeter, the neon tube itself is what we look at as it dances between and around the characters. Meanwhile warm color light fills the channel letter form, defining the text. This gives the letter a soft visual depth, reflecting light back and in.

power connection point only at the beginning, with no need for additional structure or limited support in-between.

Off the Sign. Keep in mind that neon is not completely bound to—or by—the sign cabinet. This “off-the-sign” cool line of light forms a contrasting, concentric square with twin tubes of glass running off the sign in opposite paths. The classic Holiday Inn Great Sign was topped with another example of

off-the-sign neon tubes. This uppermost starburst was evident during the day but crowned the sign brilliantly at night. (Note: If you are not aware of this classic neon landmark, look for it online.)

Accent. Finally combining neon’s rigidity and vibrant color makes its visual appeal easy to use for an accent. The color of neon can help turn any sign into something quite eye-catching and help define the identity of an establishment.

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May 2014 // Sign Builder Illustrated

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L i g h t i n g / BY LO R I S H R I D H A R E / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / /

An Insight into Merging lighting and signage.

Color, energy, and maintenance should all be considered when choosing a lighting solution.

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Sign Builder Illustrated // May 2014

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Accenting There are plenty of signage companies and a plethora of lighting specialists out there, but very few manage to offer expertise in both areas. Founded twenty-three years ago as a lighting provider that focused primarily on architectural accent lighting appli-

Color-changing purple and gold LEDs are used to accent LSU’s Tiger Stadium.

cations, Insight Lighting (www.insightlighting.com) of Rio Rancho, New Mexico, is today a company that specializes in signage services (about 30 percent of their business) and lighting (about 70 percent), focusing on illuminating façades and vertical building accents. As time went on, the company received inquiries from engineers and lighting designers looking for external lighting solutions for their signs—an evolution that isn’t surprising to Insight’s National Sales Manager Chris Kreuter. “Whether you’re lighting the vertical spaces of buildings or lighting signage, the basic application is often the same. The client is looking for uniform, consistent quality of light to make the building or the sign message ‘pop,’” he says.

ALL PHOTOS: INSIGHT LIGHTING.

Getting Started Recently the company worked with PETCO Park ball field in San Diego to create a high-performance lighting solution for the player profile signs that line the outside of the stadium. They also worked with Louisiana State University (LSU) in Baton Rouge on lighting for its football stadium. Using the purple and gold school colors, Insight provided the color-changing accents for the stadium and also lit the large identity sign. “Once a client trusts the work you can do, many opportunities are created,” says Kreuter. Typically their first step is sitting down with the architects or lighting designer to iron out a lighting solution for the project. signshop.com

Clients want a uniform, consistent quality of light that will make their sign message “pop.”

The design department takes it from there, transferring the vision of the designer on paper and ultimately rendering the lighting blueprint via architectural plans. The team may also provide fixtures to mock up and help sell the idea.

Color Considerations It’s no coincidence that the company is finding universities and stadiums interested in upgrading or refreshing their lighting; Large organizations today seek to infiltrate their brand into every aspect of their identity. “There are many designers involved in this type of ‘branding,’” says Kreuter. “Often it’s a certain color that’s important May 2014 // Sign Builder Illustrated

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The Phoenix Skyharbor Airport project allowed Insight Lighting to educate its officials on lighting integrity—particularly when it comes to wayfinding. to replicate, like in the case of the Holiday Inn refresh program that we did several years ago where the green and blue stripes on their hotels became part of the corporate identity. “With color-changing LEDs, we can match the colors of the corporate logos perfectly, and with the optical packages we provide, we can project light on buildings further than we could before.” As the company continues to utilize the latest light technologies, the designers still experiment with the triedand-true creative element of color. “I think color is still an important design element,” explains Kreuter. “It doesn’t necessarily mean that all projects need to look like the Vegas strip. “The subtle use of color can be important for branding and wayfinding applications. Whether you’re trying to mark the specific floor of the parking garage or identify the pediatric wing of the hospital, the use of color can help guide the visitors to the right location.”

Energy Solutions In addition to color considerations, there’s no shortage of clients

looking for “green” lighting solutions that will reduce their maintenance and operating costs, adds Kreuter. As an early adopter of LED lighting, Kreuter found an opportunity to replace their standard T5HO fluorescent fixtures with LED linear fixtures. “Around that same time, we began to experiment with acrylics and edge lighting with LEDs,” he says. “We found that, with specific laser cuts, we could generate tremendous luminous consistency and create planes of light. “We realized that we could [forge] a higher level of lighting uniformity and replace the traditional sign box with a contemporary, maintenance-free sign enclosure.” Kreuter adds that the use of lighting with controls can produce the perfect energy solution for a space that doesn’t require all lighting on 24/7. “Lighting can be tied to occupancy sensors or ambient light sensors to be more efficient in managing the energy equations,” he says.

Projects In 2010, Insight worked on a wayfinding project for terminal remodels and a sky train expansion at Phoenix Skyharbor Airport. As the team spoke to the client, they learned that the

As an early adoptor of LED lighting, Kreuter found an opportunity to replace their standard T5HO fluorescent fixtures in sign boxes with LED linear fixtures. 30

Sign Builder Illustrated // May 2014

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4.56x4.875 Justin Sign_March014:4.56x4.875 Justin Sign_Dec06 3/10/14 12:21 AM Page 1

airport’s signage was built to an architectural standard but never had a defined lighting standard, which presented an opportunity for Insight to educate them on the importance of lighting integrity. The project required a double-sided wayfinding sign that had to be built 2-3/4 inches deep, edge lit to average luminous intensities of 500 cd/m2 and uniformity levels of 1.7 to 1, and not to exceed 100 watts per eight-foot module. The client also required that the signage be maintenance-friendly, with a surface that would allow for easy replacement of the graphics. A prototype and subsequent presentations were given as part of the bid process, and ultimately, Insight Lighting won the job. Out of this project, the company created its SmartWay product line. “The entire system is engineered for the maintenance staff at the airport,” says Kreuter. “They can print and replace graphics without taking the sign apart, and they can replace light engines without taking the sign down. All electrical components (including power supplies) are plug-and-play.” Kreuter adds that the design of the sign page Vertical had to be1/6 architecturally clean and not display any visible fasteners—an engineering challenge that required some careful planning to meet those requirements. Another challenge the team faced was creating luminous uniformity across an 8-foot-by-30-inch-tall graphic and engineer it so that it’s lit from only one edge. “This required a custom engraving approach to allow light to travel the thirty inches across the graphic and conform available. toBack the issues lighting are uniformity levels that were set,” says Kreuter.

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no surprise that maintenance is on the top of Kreuter’s list. “Even though LED products can give us tremendous energy savings and reduce the maintenance cost, at some point, they will eventually need to be maintained,” he says. Kreuter adds that an important consideration for the lighting designer is allowing access to the power supplies or the fixtures. Follow Us On: @SBIMag And of course, it’s always helpful to Sign Builder Illustrated fb.com/SBIMag offer a product that can be upgraded at some point in the future. signshop.com

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May 2014 // Sign Builder Illustrated

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“This technology is moving at a lightning-fast pace and it’s possible that in five years the customer might desire a lighting upgrade,” says Kreuter. “Well the product design should take that into account.”

High-performance lighting highlights player profile signs outside San Diego’s PETCO Park.

Moving Forward When looking for a lighting company to partner with, Kreuter advises weeding through all the promotion to find the hidden gems. “There are so many new companies starting up every week offering new LED products, it’s sometimes difficult to sort through the smoke to find the substance. Technology is only as good as the company that backs it,” he says. “Often long-term warranties are being offered by companies who haven’t been around for five years—or who haven’t even been working in LEDs for five years. “I think there needs to be a real understanding about accountability for products in today’s marketplace.” Looking ahead to the next decade, Kreuter believes that energy usage and control of the light source is going to be a continuing area of development. “In-

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tegration of lighting and controls will be a focus as product compatibility will be tested,” he says. “LED adoption is going to continue, as we see many retrofit opportunities for replacement of tradi-

Sign Builder Illustrated // May 2014

tional light sources. “New fixture and sign designs will continue to become smaller, and the trend will be to make them less obtrusive to the working environment.”

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L i g h t i n g / BY F R I T Z M EY N E , J R . / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / /

Make sure you’re informed about all of the different LED options that are available for retrofitting fluorescent sign cabinets.

Successful cabinet lighting swap outs.

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Last issue, I pointed out the considerations that had to be made for channel letters when updating from neon to LED. Now I want to focus on another LED retrofit option—fluorescent sign cabinets. First, as most of you know, fluorescent lamps are powered by a ballast and LED modules by a transformer, so typically the power supplies will have to be changed out as part of your quotation/work.

Sign Builder Illustrated // May 2014

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ALL PHOTOS (UNLESS NOTED): BITRO GROUP.

In-depth with Retrofitting Cabinets

PHOTO: EDDIE KILEE’S FOOTGEAR.

Sign shops typically outsource the fabrication of dimensional letters, but Custom Engraving laser-cuts them in-house and earns greater profits.

Determine if the LED choice meets or exceeds the brightness of fluorescent or if less brightness is acceptable.

Very few direct LED cabinet solutions can offer working depths shallower than five inches on average.

Next the LED options for this type of swap-out are numerous, and I feel obligated to offer the following advice: “Buyer Beware.” Why, you might ask? Well let’s look at the more popular methods using LED for this type of scenario: CLM (channel letter module), LED grid systems, and indirect.

A real need-to-know point is comparing the lumens (lm) rating of actual fluorescent (FL) lamps with LED, as FL is a radial source of illumination. This means there’s a large amount of light bounced off the inside of the cabinet surfaces; thus the lumens are reduced each time they “bounce.” On the other hand, LEDs are typically mounted where the light is direct. Here a majority of the illumination goes directly to the face. Indirect options allow for the light to travel across the face. Care must be given if the face is pan and/or embossed, as indirect light will affect the appearance of both these types of faces. Next you need to understand that sign cabinets are typically single-face (S/F) or double-face (D/F). However the LED solution from different vendors can be S/F, which will require doubling with back-to-back for a D/F application. Or you can opt to use a true D/F LED solution. D/F sign cabinets are typically outside-mounted or center pole-mounted. The center pole has to be taken into consideration for any D/F LED option, as distance from the face to the LED can be critical. You also have to account for its overall dimensions, as the LED light can only travel effectively for certain lengths. You’ll find LED tubes resembling fluorescent lamps. Some use the FL lamp sockets for positioning, but they’re typically not of the LED power.

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Sign Builder Illustrated // May 2014

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Whenever you switch any electrical product for another of a different voltage and type, the burden is on you to check local codes before you offer a quote and/or take an order.

LED grid systems are one way to light a sign cabinet.

Actual FL-type LED tubes are technically directional more than fully radial, but they’re still point sources, so working depth is critical. Very few direct LED cabinet solutions can offer working depths shallower than 5 inches on average, yet some do offer depths as shallow as 2-1/4 inches. So you need to research your LED partner. Some offer certain depths, but only if the face is pigmented color (not white) or if it has a graphic image. It’s critical that you understand this so you can offer the right solution to your clients. Another quick note is brightness. You have to determine if the LED retrofit choice needs to meet or exceed the brightness or if it’s acceptable with less brightness. Lumen options vary wildly from different vendors, so make sure the lm rating is per face, as some vendors specify the lm number times two if it is for D/F (again, “buyer beware”). In closing, it’s you who has to put everything here into perspective. You have to determine what your goals are and the liability (or lack of liability) you want to have, because there are just so many solutions. After all, you are the one who is on the line with your customer. Fritz Meyne is vice president of Sales at LED lighting solutions provider Bitro Group, Inc. (www.bitrogroup.com). signshop.com

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M o n u m e n t s / B Y A S H L E Y B R AY / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / /

Banking on a New Monument S

A joint effort results in an integrated identity sign. ometimes sign shops can really push the boundaries of what they can produce by partnering with other manufacturers/fabricators. And a joint effort was just what it took when the United Community Bank needed a new sign. After relocating its headquarters, the bank wanted an updated sign and contacted JH Signs & Designs (www.jhsigns.com) of Perham, Minnesota, a company that has worked with the bank on previous projects. The new location already had a single-pole sign onsite with an EMC and an illuminated tenant cabinet. The original plan was to retrofit the sign with United Community Bank’s branding, but JH Signs had other ideas. “They added onto the bank and doubled the size of it, and I thought they should have a sign that matches that,” says Justin Helmke, president of JH Signs. The sign shop submitted a sketch of a whole new sign that incorporated the bank’s name and logo in channel letters, a new illuminated tenant cabinet, the Daktronics EMC from the old sign, and a brick-and-moulding pattern that matched the new building. The bank was sold as soon as it saw the sketch, Expanding neon tubesand JH Signs got to work. help enrich the overall The biggest challenge was to dimension find a wayoftothis incorporate brick on sun-and-moon such a largesign. sign. The cost to work with real brick didn’t make sense,

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Sign Builder Illustrated // May 2014

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PHOTOS (LEFT): JH SIGNS & DESIGNS; (RIGHT) SIGNS BY BENCHMARK.

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PHOTO (OPPOSITE PAGE): SIGNS BY BENCHMARK.

Two steel beams were installed first, and then a week later, installers slid the sign pieces up and over the steel beams to complete the install.

so JH Signs turned to Signs by Benchmark (www.signsbybenchmark.com), which the shop has worked with on previous projects, to create a faux-brick design. Helmke contacted the architects of the bank building to get brick samples and measurements of the moulding radius and then sent them off to Benchmark. He also sent measurements of the cabisignshop.com

net, EMC, and channel letters. (Note: Pascual Signs fabricated the channel letters, which are lit with Samsung LEDs.) When Benchmark received the measurements and the design, they made a few tweaks to the width of the bricks so that the pattern would be even throughout. They also made sure the design allowed for splitting the sign

into multiple sections. Benchmark fabricated the sign in five pieces: a base with a flat stone appearance, two U-shaped pieces to fit around the cabinet and EMC, the top fauxbrick portion where the channel letters would be mounted, and the top moulding piece with a door for maintenance access. “The challenge was to make it

May 2014 // Sign Builder Illustrated

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look like a brick structure while allowing access into the heart of the sign for electrical hook up and maintenance,” says Helmke. Since the sign was double-sided, there was no place on any of the sides for a door; so Benchmark and JH Signs decided to place the door in the very top of the sign, which Benchmark has used as a solution on other projects. “It takes a truck [to access it], but if you have to service a lighted sign, you generally need

the truck anyway,” says Helmke. Benchmark cut the five sign pieces out of expanded polystyrene (EPS) foam using a CNC router. With the measurements JH Signs provided, cutting proved a breeze. “All of our parts are computercut with the CNC, so it makes matching building elements pretty easy,” says Jamie Kakacek, Design and Estimating, Signs by Benchmark. In fact, the biggest challenge was in making sure that the pieces lined up cor-

rectly, since Benchmark didn’t have the cabinet or EMC onsite. Once all of the pieces were cut out, Benchmark added in pass throughs for the channel letter wiring. “Whenever possible, we like to make the pass throughs while we’re making the sign. It’s pretty much like a PVC sleeve,” says Kakacek. “It works out well for our customers too, because then they’re not having to drill anything onsite or in their shop. “It makes it a little bit more userfriendly for [them].” Next Benchmark coated all of the pieces in a polyurea hard coat to protect the EPS from the elements. The shop then started working on the faux-brick pattern that would match the sample JH Signs had sent. “We’ve kind of developed a system over the years to get a decent match for the brick,” says Kakacek.

The decision to use faux rather than real brick came down to cost, sign size, and labor. “Physical samples are always the best way of doing it whenever possible.” Benchmark used stucco tinted with Benjamin Moore® and Sherwin-Williams® colors to create the brick pattern. “Then we did some handpainting on the bricks to get some of the shading right. If there’s any aging to the brick, a lot of that can be done with kind of a paintwash,” explains Kakacek. “We rely on our finishing team to get a lot of those elements to bring the whole thing to life.” (Note: Tinted stucco was also used to create the flat stone pattern on the base.) It took about six weeks for Benchmark to fabricate all the sign pieces. They then packed and drove the sign out to JH Signs on one of their own semi trucks. With the sign pieces in-shop, JH Signs mounted the letters and logo to the appropriate sign piece and completed most of the wiring. Benchmark left the bottom of this particular sign piece hollow so that JH Signs had access to make the electrical connections. Before installation day, JH Signs dug the footings for steel beams, set the 40

Sign Builder Illustrated // May 2014

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A New Monument Moves In

PHOTO: PINNACLE SIGNS AND GRAPHICS.

Pinnacle Signs and Graphics (www. pinnacle-signs.com) recently created a double-sided monument sign for Midtown Park Apartments. It took several revisions to iron out a design that matched the client’s vision—a stainless steel finish with a painted look in the apartment community’s signature blue. To realize this vision, Pinnacle Signs turned to Component Signage, Inc. (CSI) (www.componentsignage.com). CSI customized its 1010 - Square Pylon/Low Profile aluminum monument model with a variety of blocked-off square spaces and sent it over to Pinnacle. The sign shop added clear polycarbonate panels that slide into place and then applied graphics printed with the signature blue to the back of the panels. “[Digital printing] is the only way we could really make it so that all the colors would match,” says Abby Ethington, graphic designer/marketing specialist at Pinnacle Signs. The graphics were outsourced to a company that could flood white in between the blue for a more opaque look. The white layer also allows for the graphics to be illuminated later on, if desired. Pinnacle finished up by attaching white acrylic Gemini letters to the sign using 3M™ VHB™ tape and silicone. For the install, Pinnacle dug a footing and poured concrete for the base. Once the base was set, they returned and drilled in the finished monument, which took two installers about an hour. —Ashley Bray

beams in, and poured concrete for the base. They returned a week later and, using their bucket and crane trucks, slid all of the sign pieces over and down the steel beams. They mounted both the new lighted tenant cabinet and the original EMC to the steel poles using brackets and then made the final electrical connections. “We basically welded on some angles and mounted everything to that,” explains Helmke. It took three installers about ten hours

to finish the install. The finished sign fit together perfectly and stands 143-1/4 inches wide-by-308 inches high-by-353/4-inch deep. United Community Bank was very pleased with the final product and even happier with their decision to invest in a new sign.

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A r c h i t e c t u r a l / B Y B R E N D A M U R P H Y- N I E D E R K O R N / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / /

A CNC router is brought in for the finer details.

ARCHITECTS ON DISPLAY

Students in the Pratt Institute’s Graduate Architecture and Urban Design program used Dibond® panels to create the “Bending the Rules” exhibit pieces.

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Sign Builder Illustrated // May 2014

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“Bending the rules” in building an architectural design exhibit.

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ALL PHOTOS: PRATT INSTITUTE GAUD.

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raduate students were “Bending the Rules” in a recent exhibit at the Pratt Institute’s School of Architecture in Brooklyn, New York, with full-scale architectural design pieces fabricated with Dibond® aluminum composite material (ACM) by 3A Composites USA (www.GraphicDisplay.com). The “Bending the Rules” exhibit—displayed January 30 through February 14 in the Hazel and Robert H. Siegel Gallery in Higgins Hall—was the culmination of students’ work in the Fall 2013 “Scripting and Form” seminar of the Pratt Institute’s Graduate Architecture and Urban Design (GAUD) program. Students worked in teams of three to create four large-scale sculptural pavilions, each measuring approximately 30 feet wide-by-20 feet tall and titled: “Gen-Z: Faceted + Furious,” “Bi-Lamina: Peeling Back the Curtain,” “Alluminatis: Hexadeca,” and “Display Facets: Folding Lights.” The seminar—taught by Robert Cervellione, visiting professor and coordinator of digital instructors, Pratt Institute GAUD—focused on the use of computer-based parametric design tools to model and simulate material behavior, specifically adaptive foldable structures. The design and conception of each project blended computational design tools, as well as traditional techniques of paper folding. “By utilizing advanced computational design tools, it allowed for complex fold and cut patterns to be generated and simulated at large scales in order to predict real-world behaviors,” said Cervellione, who has taught this seminar for the past three years utilizing Bentley GenerativeComponents™ software. “The ability to streamline the whole building material fabrication process is a very hot topic by both architectural academic researchers and real-world engineering firms. “We’re moving to a 100 percent digital design process.” While Pratt architectural students expect to incorporate Alucobond® ACM in their future professional building designs, this heavy-duty building product was not a practical choice for construction of these architectural sculptures. (Note: Alucobond

Sign shops typically outsource the fabrication of dimensional letters, but Custom Engraving laser-cuts them in-house and earns greater profits.

Lightweight Dibond graphic display board was used to create the architectural sculptures. consists of two sheets of .020-inch aluminum thermo-bonded to a plastic core and is produced in the standard 4mm thickness.) So Dibond—Alucobond’s lightweight graphic display sister product—stepped in. Dibond graphic display board is a rigid, durable aluminum composite material consisting of two prepainted sheets of .012-inch aluminum bonded to a solid polyethylene core—a unique composition that makes it approximately one-half the weight of aluminum. “We wanted to demonstrate how building facades can be constructed with advanced fabrication techniques,” said Cervellione. “The (scored) material is delivered to the job site flat

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Sign Builder Illustrated // May 2014

on pallets and then folded in place.” In addition to computer design, seminar students completed all material fabrication and installation for the exhibit. Before fabricating the large-scale pieces, they constructed lower-cost models with ten sheets of 48-by-96-inch Sintra® graphic display board in the Bright White color and 3mm thickness. The “Bending the Rules” pieces were created from 110 4-by-8-foot, 4mm-thick Dibond panels in the black facer/ black core/black facer color configuration. Students cut the Dibond with a CNC router into 220 1-by-1 meter panels that were scored for folding into the installation designs. The 1-by-

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Students in the Pratt Institute’s Graduate Architecture and Urban Design program install the exhibit.

Dibond graphic display board is CNC-routed for the “Bending the Rules” exhibition.

1 meter Dibond panels were joined together with 3M™ VHB™ Tape—another real-world building construction product. “The finished designs are amazing,” said Cervellione. “You can see both sides of the Dibond panels in the exhibit pieces. “You get a really different look depending on which side was scored. We got two unique looks out of these panels.” Cervellione said the “Bending the Rules” exhibit is of interest not only to building design and construction professionals but also to members of the general public. “Architects and engineers are interested to see how we are moving building skin and fabrication techniques beyond current standards through

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computer design, which also is freeing our designs,” he said. “While this exhibit was definitely focused on how architectural design can deploy these techniques with buildings, architecture is also sculptural art. “We’re not just manipulating the performance of a building. We’re expressing ourselves through art at the building scale. We want to understand this material both structurally and aesthetically.” For more information about the Pratt Institute’s Graduate Architecture and Urban Design program, visit www.pratt.edu.

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B u s i n e s s M a n a g e m e n t / BY M I K E A N T O N I A K / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / /

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Sign Builder Illustrated // May 2014

PHOTO: FASTSIGNS-ARLINGTON, TEXAS.

Successful franchisees bring significant capital, flexibility, and the willingness to invest time and effort. signshop.com

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The Franchise Player Franchising promises success for those who fit the plan.

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(alliancefranchisebrands.com), says independents explore franchising as a way to boost sales and profits. “They’ve reached a plateau they just can’t seem to get beyond and are looking for a way to take their business to the next level,” he observes. (Note: The Alliance Franchise Brands include Signs Now, Signs By Tomorrow, and Image360.) “Sign shop owners usually come to us when their growth has stagnated,” agrees Mark Jameson, executive vice president of franchise support and development for FASTSIGNS® International (www.fastsigns.com). “They might be working hard but not getting the re-

PHOTO: IMAGE 360-WOODBURY, MN.

hen business challenges seem overwhelming, independent sign shop owners may look to franchising as a possible way to alleviate those pressures. While many ultimately dismiss such notions as surrendering their autonomy with unnecessary expense, for a few, franchising makes sense as a way of buying into a proven business model and support network. And with major sign franchisors offering conversion programs for established businesses, it’s an option that may warrant a look. Ramon Palmer, president of the sign division of Alliance Franchise Brands

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Advantages of joining a franchise network are brand-name recognition, marketing support, and equipment discounts. efit from exploring Alliance’s Image 360 franchise program. Developed after two years of market research, Palmer says it’s the company’s response to today’s market and tomorrow’s opportunities. “The industry has changed,” he asserts. “In many cases, people who have been in the sign business for more than ten years

are still operating under a retail business model. They have to reinvent themselves.” Alliance’s market research reveals that business customers want a single point of contact for all their visual communications needs. Signs are just one aspect of that. “We’ve repositioned our brand with this new model,” says Palmer. “It’s

GIVE AND GET Of course, franchising isn’t all gain without any give. Although programs vary, they typically require up-front fees and ongoing royalties. For successful franchisees, it’s the return on investment that matters. “We provide them with on-time saving systems that are already developed, proven, and in place so they can spend more of their time growing their business,” says Palmer. Even those who aren’t interested in entering a franchise program might ben48

Sign Builder Illustrated // May 2014

Franchising promises a framework for success to those who actively participate in the entire program. signshop.com

PHOTOS (TOP): SIGNS BY TOMORROW-ROCKVILLE, MD; (BOTTOM) FASTSIGNS-ARLINGTON, TX.

sults they want.” FASTSIGNS CEO Catherine Monson says independent owners are good candidates for franchising if they value a recognized brand name backed by national marketing programs and a support network of franchisees and company experts in all aspects of the sign business. “Because of our buying power, we get prices on equipment and materials they can’t get as independents,” she adds. “That can bring savings from 5 to 25 percent on hardware and consumables for lower operating costs.”

for someone looking to build business through sales and marketing, who wants to be involved in customers’ business through outbound sales.”

A DECISIVE COMMITMENT Whether any franchise program is a good fit depends on the individual. Franchising is not a step to be taken lightly, especially for an established location. Becoming a franchisee is a longterm commitment to a particular program and approach. Typical franchisees are new to the business. Conversions (less typical) recognize they need help after a candid assessment of their business. Both must bring significant capital, flexibility to embrace and adapt to a prescribed model, and the willingness to invest time and effort to making it work. Martin Izett left the corporate world for a fresh start in the sign business three years ago. He purchased an established Signs Now franchise in Columbia, South Carolina. “I liked the idea I could buy into an existing business,” he says. “It already had good equipment and customers, and the training and support from Signs Now was very professional.” It’s been a profitable venture—but with some surprises. “I’ve had to work a lot harder than I thought, but I also have a chance to do a lot of different things,” says Izett. “It’s definitely not for someone who thinks they can buy a franchise and coast into retirement. “You’ve got to be all involved and willing to put in the hours.” Three years ago, Pat and Stefanie Dacy launched 3V Sign and Graphics (www.3vsigns.com) as a Sign Biz (www. signbiz.com) franchise in Hermosa Beach, California. “We liked the fact that we could use our own name, and they didn’t require monthly fees,” he says. The model has proven so successful that they were able to purchase a competing independent sign shop, in business more than thirty-eight years. “The biggest help of the program has been the support network,” reports Pat. “We can also reach out to other franchise owners to ask questions and share our experiences.”

STRENGTH IN NUMBERS It’s that collaborative network of fransignshop.com

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chise owners that has proven an ongoing benefit of the Signarama (www.signarama. com) program for Joel and Mary Hall, franchisees in Carmel, Indiana for fourteen years. “The part that didn’t hit me in the beginning was the collective ability to call other franchise owners for ideas and support,” says Joel, noting this helped him decide what equipment to buy. Joel Hall says franchising promises a framework for success to those who actively participate in the entire program,

contributing to group marketing funds and regularly attending regional and national meetings. “If you’re not into working in a team environment, you’ll probably be better off as an independent,” he advises. Mike Zaffaroni converted to franchising two years after buying an existing sign shop in Fernandina Beach, Florida. “It was profitable,” he says, “but not extremely profitable, and I was putting in a lot of hours.”

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Eager to grow the business, he rebranded as a FASTSIGNS location in 2011. “They clearly laid out what’s expected, and what they offer in return for that royalty fee,” he says. “I could see the advantages of a proven system and procedures for everything from the point-ofsale system to making sure I have a good workflow and hire the right people.” Since joining FASTSIGNS, sales have doubled. “I rely heavily on my franchise business consultant; the biggest value of the franchise has probably been the breadth of her knowledge and experience,” says Zaffaroni. “For someone who didn’t spend their life in the sign business, I have a wealth of knowledge to draw on and help me grow,” As satisfied as he is with his experience, he says franchising is definitely not for everyone. “It really depends on what you want for your business,” says Zaffaroni. “If you’re head strong and think

Some sign shop owners make the decision to transition to the franchise system when their growth has stagnated and they want to reach the next level.

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you know all you need to know, this is not for you. “But if you’re open-minded, with the mindset the more you put in then the more you get out of the program, then franchising can work.”

INVESTIGATING YOUR OPTIONS Franchising is such a decisive step for an independent sign shop owner that it’s an option that must be fully explored and evaluated before directing your business and its future down this one-way street. You can research and compare programs’ costs and what’s provided for said costs on franchisors’ Web sites. And before converting to any program, contact franchisees for their assessment of the program and where it’s met and missed expectations. signshop.com

Your Direct Source for Sign Information 3 Easy Steps

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1. Choose up to 10 categories of interest and check off on card. 2. Select up to 28 suppliers and record InfoDirect # on card. 3. Mail card to start getting info! InfoDirect #

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32 33 34 35 36 37 52

Company

Page

InfoDirect #

3M Commerical Graphics . . . . . . . 60 Ability Plastics, Inc. . . . . . . . . . . . 18 AdamsTech . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 27 Allwood Signblanks . . . . . . . . . . . 56 Alpina Manufacturing. . . . . . . . . . 58 Alpina Manufacturing . . . . . . . . . . 58 A.R.K. Ramos . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 59 Arris Signs. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 19 AxiomLED, Inc. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 31 Bayer MaterialScience LLC . . . . . . 23 Brooklyn Hardware . . . . . . . . . . . . 59 CAO Group . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 35 Central States Signs . . . . . . . . . . . 59 Coastal Enterprises/Precision Board . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 37 Duxbury Systems . . . . . . . . . . . . . 58 FASTSIGNS International, Inc. . . . 51 Gemini, Inc. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 19 GH Imaging . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 58 Hartlauer Bits, Inc. . . . . . . . . . . . . 58 Howard Industries . . . . . . . . . . . . . 40 J Freeman . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 49 JKL Components . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 30 Justin, Inc. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 36 Matthews Paint . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 57 MBS-Standoffs . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 59 Mimaki USA . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 13 ORAFOL Americas . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 7 Orbus Inc. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 59 Orbus Inc. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 59 Ornamental Post Panel & Traffic . . . . . . . . . . . . . 59 Outwater Plastics . . . . . . . . . . . . . 22 Parker Davis . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 60 Principal LED . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1 Roland DGA Corp. . . . . . . . . . . . . . 15 Scott Sign Systems . . . . . . . . . . . . 58 SEGD . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 21 Sign America . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 58 Sign Builder Illustrated // May 2014

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and Lattice. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 45 Signs365.com . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . C4 SloanLED . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . C2 Small Balls, Inc. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 59 Southern Stud Weld . . . . . . . . . . . 49 Stamm Mfg. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 41 Sunrise LED . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 32 Sylvania. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 11 TRC Electronics, Inc. . . . . . . . . . . . 33 US LED . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 17 USSC . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 44 Ventex . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 5 VKF Renzel USA Corp. . . . . . . . . . . 58 Vycom . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 3 Wilkie Mfg., LLC . . . . . . . . . . . . . . C3

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Companies in Sign Show

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Company

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3M Commercial Graphics . . . . . . . 14 Corel Software . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 14 Coveris Advanced Coatings. . . . . . 14 Fulham . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 12 Kern Laser Systems . . . . . . . . . . . 12 LaserBits . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 12 Piedmont Plastics . . . . . . . . . . . . . 14 PosterGarden . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 14 Roland DGA . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 12 Ventex . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 12

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Dibond® panels to create Rules” exhibit pieces.

P o s t - a n d - P a n e l / BY J E F F WO OT E N / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / /

Planting the Message!

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ost-and-panel systems are some of the most popular forms of signage today, evidenced by the wide range of clients using them. Applications include primary and secondary site identification, wayfinding/directionals, parking, etc. For sign makers, one of the attractive things about post-andpanel systems is that they’re made from components (wood, acrylic, PVC, etc.) that can be easily assembled, transported, and installed—all while allowing a wide range of creativity in their design. (Note: See “Shop Talk” on page 60.) “They’re also a cost-effective way to get an [end-user’s] message closer to potential customers,” explains Steve McMahon, business unit director of The Sign Bracket Store (www.signbracketstore.com). “They can stand alone away from competing building signage and double as a landmark or as wayfinding for traffic passing by.”

GETTING STARTED Sign design is important, as this can often mimic the appearance of a building or a company’s colors and logo. 54

Sign Builder Illustrated // May 2014

So at the outset of a post-and-panel sign project, a sign maker should first find out from their client what they’re trying to achieve with these signs—is it to simply identify their business or to help people navigate their property? Bill Freeman, vice president of Architectural Sales at Howard Industries (www.howardindustries.com), suggests additional basic questions one should ask during the initial planning stages: + What will be the colors of the sign? + Are there going to be any graphics on the panel? + Will the post-and-panel sign be single- or double-face? + Is this sign going to be illuminated or non-illuminated? + Where will the post-and-panel sign be located? “A lot of this information will also help answer what size of sign is going to be needed,” he says. Another factor to consider is whether the intended audience for the post-and-panel sign will be on foot or in traffic moving at forty miles per hour? “If the latter, then a logo with minimal text may be the way to go,” states McMahon. “Lots of small text will be hard to grasp from a moving car.” signshop.com

ALL PHOTOS (UNLESS CREDITED OTHERWISE): HOWARD INDUSTRIES.

Don’t get buried by post-and-panel sign system work.

reate the “Bending the s.

PHOTO: DIAZ SIGN ART.

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Shops can easily design and make panels using radius, peaked, sloped, and even custom-routed tops and bottoms.

Exterior Design Advice

PHOTO: THE SIGN BRACKET STORE.

Sign makers are usually interested in making post-and-panels stand out even more for their customers (particularly since this is already a very, very popular form of signage). “The panels can easily be fabricated with radius, peaked, sloped, or custom-routed tops and even bottoms,” remarks Freeman. “Our system components are modular allowing all our post-and-panel systems to be mixed and matched to form a wide variety of looks. “The post can also be bent at a number of different angles, and you can use a number of decorative post caps.” Freeman adds that a routed filigree is another great decorative touch. “It can really give your sign’s appearance a step above the rest,” he says. When it comes to additional decorative/fabrication ideas to make post-and-panel sign systems stand out even more, McMahon suggests: + “If you use a standard three-inch-diameter round, smooth, or fluted post, the additions of a decorative base cover is an easy way to add interest and provide a higher end finish.” + “Ground-mounted lights are a good way to make the sign work twenty-four hours a day.” + “With regard to the panel, the addition of trim or a border or possibly dimensional letters will go a long way toward providing a more professional appearance and increase the per-

Single-post systems are popular for high-end real estate listings, doctor/attorney offices, and home-based businesses.

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When installing on a slope, one post may need to be longer than the other to ensure a level panel.

ceived value of the system.” + “You’re not limited to a double-post system. Single- or triple-post configurations should also be considered.” + “Regardless of post type, the addition of trim to the sides or finials (caps) to the top of the posts are easy ways to improve the look.” McMahon points out that posts with grooved slots will help ease the installation of the panels, so you should consider employing them during the fabrication process.

Solid Installation Speaking of installation, post-and-panel signs are fortunately very easy to install with the use of standard hand tools and some bags of cement. However Freeman advises to check local city sign codes and zoning issues and to notify utilities to make sure that there aren’t any hidden concerns. It’s important to consider elevations when surveying out at the install location. “If [the sign] is going to be placed on a slope, then one post may need to be longer than the other to ensure a level panel,” says McMahon. When it comes to installation, Freeman states that you need to ask the end-user how and where the signs will be mounted. “Options for mounting include direct embedment, base plate surface-mounted, wall-mounted, flag-mounted, or ceilingmounted, to name a few,” he states. For direct-bury installation, posts are typically buried a minimum of two feet below grade. However in the Northern U.S. and Canada, end-users may need to factor the frost line into that equation. “For colder climates, post depths of three to four feet (or more) are not uncommon,” says McMahon. If the on-site install area experiences snow drifts of a couple of feet deep for some number of months each year, McMahon recommends, “The panel may need to be elevated a little higher than normal.” When it comes to post-and-panel sign system projects that are intended to be semi-permanent, McMahon advises the “good practice” of pouring cement around the below-grade portion of each post. “This will help with the stability and longevity of the system,” he says. Another option to consider, if the post-and-panel system

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isn’t going into a “green belt” location, is figuring out if you’re going to be able to core the concrete or asphalt to bury your posts. “If that’s not an option, then you may have to consider a surface-mount flange that can be bolted to the hardscape in order to support the posts,” he says. A post-and-panel set at the end of a driveway or at the corner of a property near an intersection may be ideal from a customer’s point of view, which according to McMahon, is another reason that you’ll want to check with the local municipality’s engineering department first. “They may have traffic line-of-sight requirements, which will require a set back from the curb or sidewalk,” he explains. “While a nice front-and-center placement is ideal, blocking the view of oncoming traffic can have unintended results.”

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More Possibilities When it comes to post-and-panel signs, the initial reactions by sign shops may be to focus entirely on design, fabrication, and installation. However you should also consider maintenance to make sure the end-users will get the most out of the signs out in the field. The materials you choose and the finish(es) you apply will often determine the need or frequency of any ongoing maintenance. “While weather conditions and sun exposure will have an impact on the post-and-panel sign system performance over time, painting with a quality paint, using a powder coating, or anodizing at the start can help to minimize or eliminate the need for any maintenance,” says McMahon.

The good news (for sign shops) is that a number of postand-panel applications usually end up with an update long before they need replacement or refurbishment. “Tenants move, colors and slogans change, and logos get updated more than people realize,” says McMahon. “A little up-front attention to the fit and finish will go a long way toward Sign shop owners qualify Sign for aPreparation FREE SUBSCRIPTION making yourto every customissue of Sign Builder Illustrated. Guide by ers’ post-and-panel sign Go to www.signshop.com/subscribe to request Matthews Paintaddress. a new subscription or to update your a lasting landmark.”

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The addition of finials (caps) to the top of the posts is an easy way to enhance the sign’s look.

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McMahon points out that when it comes to materials, sign makers are really only limited by their imagination. “We’ve all seen examples of unique post-and-panel systems,” he says, “such as using recycled telephone poles, railroad ties, or reclaimed wood. “We’ve also seen an auto body shop use a car hood with their name painted on it as the panel and a couple of exhaust pipes as the posts.” (Note: Checking sign codes may dictate the sizes and materials that can be used in a post-and-panel project.) But no matter what material is chosen, finishing the panel edges is important, as that is where water ingress is likely to impact your sign first. “Improperly sealed edges will swell and, in no time, cause the panel to bubble and peel,” says McMahon. When it comes to posts, wood is probably the most popular substrate, due to its low cost and ready availability. “[Posts] can easily be modified by adding trim or decorative elements like finials or caps to help increase their perceived value and make them more pleasing to the eye,” says McMahon. PVC, fiberglass, and aluminum are other options that can be incorporated into the post design for a greater sense of style. According to Freeman, “[Steel] posts help us obtain high wind load requirements.” “But steel may require occasional maintenance or refinishing for larger structures,” adds McMahon. —Jeff Wooten

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ubstrates that can be used for panels include laminated sheeting, Sintra®, plywood, acrylic, and PVC. However Bill Freeman, vice president of Architectural Sales at Howard Industries (www.howardindustries. com), favors high-quality aluminum. “It’s very durable and resistant to a variety of weather conditions,” he says. “It also won’t corrode.” He adds that polycarbonate is another ideal substrate for panels (particularly in illuminated systems), because of its high-impact strength. According to Steve McMahon, business unit director of The Sign Bracket Store (www.signbracketstore. com), MDO and composite panels are widely used with wood post(s) systems. “When properly finished, they offer a reasonably long-lasting and modest-cost solution for most post-and-panel applications,” he says. Of course, the application (or customer’s budget) will often determine the materials that can be employed for the panels. “If the application will be a simple commercial real estate ‘For Sale’ or ‘For Lease’ sign, then the lowest cost option usually wins,” says McMahon, “as the hopes are the property will be sold or leased in a short period of time and that the sign will come down sooner than later. “But if the post-and-panel is going to be used to highlight a retail business, then a higher end finish and material choice will make more sense.”

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The Road Ahead   

 

Times have changed, so has  the Sign industry and the way  we do business. With new  government regulations  Wilkie helps you keep ahead  of the curve with the new  Wilkie innovative products  with the sign professional in  mind.  The Wilkie Model 52XLR is a  prime example of this  52’  two man rotating platform  with a storable jib winch in  the basket and a mainline  winch that stores when not in  use mounted on a non CDL  truck, Wilkie helps you keep  ahead of the curves in life  that come your way.   Wilkie Mfg., L.L.C.  405‐235‐0920 Phone  405‐236‐3324 Fax  www.wilkiemfg.com 

 


Sign Builder Illustrated May 2014