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N u m b e r 262

The How-To Magazine

A pr i l 2017 | s i g n s h o m

Wraps Weather the




S i g n B u i l d e r I l l u st r at e d

48 54



WAYFINDing plan


Decorative exterior signage scores big

A p r i l 201 7

assembling your team to find success

S ee Our Ad On Page 33



A “primer� on painting this substrate


How to use designers to increase sales Plus Great marketing ideas to grow your business






BOOTH 2239

SPEED & AUTOMATION WITHOUT EXCEPTION A “WHERE WERE YOU” MOMENT... A paradigm shift in printing technology, manifested in the form of the revolutionary new Océ Colorado 1640! The traditional model of speed and automation has shifted.All preconceptions and understandings about throughput, quality and productivity in the 64” roll-to-roll market will be altered, enlightened, and forever changed. The Océ Colorado 1640 printer, powered by UVgel technology, with sellable production quality up to 1,710 square foot per hour, makes everything else look like it is standing still. For more information, call or visit: 1-800-842-4534 CSA.CANON.COM

See it live at the Canon booth #2068 at ISA, April 20-22

Canon is a registered trademark of Canon Inc. in the United States and elsewhere. Océ and Océ ColorWave are registered trademarks of Océ-Technologies B.V. in the United States and elsewhere. All other referenced product names and marks are trademarks of their respective owners and are hereby acknowledged. © 2017 Canon Solutions America, Inc. All rights reserved.

Contents APRIL 2017

Vol. 31


No. 262

How-To Columns

18 22 24


By Jim Hingst How cross-selling can grow your sign business.


By David Hickey A shop’s to-do list might limit participation in important issues.


By Mark K. Roberts Ten great marketing ideas to increase your sign business.


8 12 75 76


Editor Jeff Wooten relays the inspirational story behind the success of a Florida sign shop.


The world’s first 3D-printed pop-up store; new digital signs spread the message; and a self-identifying sign.



Sign Show


SBI Marketplace


Shop Talk


The newest products and services from sign manufacturers. Advertisements and announcements from the sign trade. Ashley Bray explains how a wholesaler helps to expand the capabilities of sign shops.

54 62

48 2

Sign Builder Illustrated

April 2017

67 71


By Lori Shridhare Installing graphics for every vehicle.


By Jeff Wooten Mathematics and signs add up to a storefront’s identity.


By Jeff Wooten Hitting the mark with a new pylon sign.


By Jeff Wooten The Tampa Bay Rowdies club achieves its goals with awnings and signs.


By Charles Kelly, Jr. Tips for developing your wayfinding team.


By Ashley Bray Everything you need to know to successfully prime and paint HDU.


By Brooke Albring Increase sales through your design department.


By Lori Shridhare Fabrics bring diversity and dimension to signage.

Cover Photo: Rockwall Wraps.


What are you excited for with regard to the ISA Sign Expo this month?

April 2017, Vol. 31, No. 262 Sign Builder Illustrated (ISSN 0895-0555) print, (ISSN 2161-0709) digital is published by Simmons-Boardman Publishing Corporation

Subscriptions: 800-895-4389

executive offices President and Chairman Arthur J. McGinnis, Jr. “It is such a pleasure to connect in person with our loyal readers when they stop by our booth!”

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

“Getting ahead of the curve and geeking out over some of the latest trends that you don’t realize yet will be benefitting your shop!”

Managing Editor Ashley Bray 55 Broad Street, 26th Floor New York, NY 10004 212-620-7220 Contributing Writers Brooke Albring, David Hickey, Jim Hingst, Charles Kelley, Jr., Mark K. Roberts, Lori Shridhare

art Creative Director Wendy Williams Art Director Nicole Cassano Graphic Designer Aleza Leinwand

production Corporate Production Director Mary Conyers

circulation Circulation Director Maureen Cooney

advertising sales “It’s always great to see the creativity and innovation of the industry come to life on the show floor!”

Associate Publisher Jeff Sutley 212-620-7233 Mid-West & West Coast Sales Manager Heather Bonato 212-620-7225

“Not only is the ISA Sign Expo eye-opening with all of the latest technologies being exhibited, but now is the time for industry professionals to collaborate and continue to build stronger relationships, year after year.”

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


Sign Builder Illustrated

April 2017









#5565 TH









* * * * *



P.O. BOX 802050 SANTA CLARITA, CA 91380 P: 661-259-0700/F: 661-259-0900 WWW.YJINC.COM





Editor’s Column By Jeff Wooten

AGENDA April 2017 APRIL 19-22:

The ISA International Sign Expo takes place at the Mandalay Bay Convention Center in Las Vegas, Nevada. (

May 2017 MAY 7-11:

Built from Scratch

The inspirational story behind a Florida sign shop.


irst off, we’d like to acknowledge in the feature story, “An Icy Installation,” that appeared in our February 2017 issue, J. Freeman, Inc., of Dorchester, Massachusetts, was the acrylic vendor who gave Poyant Signs advice on forming the acrylic letters for the Warrior Ice Arena. Second, you’ll notice several projects in this month’s issue from Global Sign & Awning, a full-service sign company in Clearwater, Florida: a “mathematically impossible” illuminated storefront (p. 34), a towering pylon sign (p. 42), and an identity sign/awning package for the Tampa Bay Rowdies soccer club (p. 48). However I was equally intrigued by the backstory of Owner Christopher Wicks (pictured above, right), particularly the moment when he told me how, nine years ago, he was actually homeless and living out of his car. A friend suggested to him that, since he was proficient with Illustrator, he should move into selling signs. “So with Illustrator on my laptop, I went door-todoor to shopping plazas in my area asking store owners if they needed a sign made—a banner, a window graphic, or any type of promotional.” Christopher would save the design to a Flash drive and use his library’s Internet to email the proof to the client. He would then have other shops in his area cut a roll of vinyl for him. “I would then weed and transfer it on the floor of the one-bedroom apartment that belonged to my future wife,” he says. “She sup6

Sign Builder Illustrated

April 2017

ported me from the beginning and even helped me peel vinyl with a hair dryer.” Today Global Sign & Awning services major accounts throughout the state of Florida from its 5,000-squarefoot facility! Christopher is a go-getter, but another trait of his that caught my attention is that he is also an innovative thinker when it comes to keeping his employees engaged—particularly through stressful, “need it yesterday” deadlines. He has really built a sense of camaraderie at Global Sign & Awning, with his team supporting each other professionally and personally. “I always want to have a positive energy inside the business and between team members,” he says. “We don’t accept or tolerate negativity, bad attitudes, demeaning comments toward each other, etc.” Christopher works a little outside the box to keep the health and morale at his company at a high level. “The first Friday of each month, we do a little cookout with each other,” he says. “Without my team, we wouldn’t be anything.” Finally Christopher stresses to never give up. “We’ve faced a lot of challenges, and we’ve always put our heads together,” he says. “We stick together, and we work through it!”

LIGHTFAIR® International (LFI) 2017 will be in full effect at the Pennsylvania Convention Center in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. (

June 2017 JUNE 8-10:

This year’s SEGD Conference, Experience Miami, will be headquartered at the Loews Miami in Miami, Florida. (

JUNE 8-11:

The Texas Sign Association’s Sixty-Fourth Annual Conference happens at the WinStar World Casino in Thackerville, Oklahoma. (

July 2017 July 26-30:

The Mid South Sign Association Annual Meeting and Trade Show takes place at the Sheraton Memphis Downtown in Memphis, Tennessee. (

August 2017 August 11-13:

The Tri-State Sign Expo commences at the Downstream Casino Resort in Joplin, Missouri. (

Jeff Wooten Editor,









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In The Industry

World’s First 3D-printed

Pop-up Store


ydney, Australia—OMUS, Australia’s first dedicated large format 3D printing house, is run by two former leading signage & display professionals who were looking to do something more. “With decades of printing expertise between us, we wanted to differentiate our proposition from other sign and display suppliers and produce applications that go beyond those that can be achieved with 2D large format printing solutions,” says Robert Grosso, co-owner of OMUS along with Matthew Huber. The two business partners invested in a Massivit 1800 3D and provide large format 3D-printed applications within the retail, staging, events, and architec8

Sign Builder Illustrated

April 2017

tural design arenas. “Our customers are always seeking ways to push the boundaries and create promotions with stopping-power,” says Grosso. “From a production perspective, the very nature of building from the ground up not only enables us to exactly replicate our customer’s complex designs, regardless of the scale, it is also an efficient and cost-effective solution.” This boundary-pushing potential is exemplified in a recent project that saw OMUS construct what is believed to be the world’s first 3D-printed pop-up retail store on behalf of luxury fashion brand Louis Vuitton. Open for a month-long campaign in the Westfield shopping centre in Sydney,

the 29.5-foot-by-32.8-foot-by-8.85-foot structure was created using the company’s Massivit 1800 3D Printer in just eighteen days. The project saw OMUS work closely with Louis Vuitton’s design agency, Gold Coast Displays, to build a superstructure that would launch Louis Vuitton’s new menswear collection. According to Grosso, given the complexity of the design and the limited time available (just three weeks from the point at which OMUS received the confirmation to go-ahead until the date of the pop-up store’s grand opening), 3D printing was the only viable manufacturing method. “Utilizing the Massivit 1800’s large build-tray, we were able to 3D print

Sign selfie


Using their 3D printer, OMUS built a 3D pop-up store for Louis Vuitton.

the very nature of building from the ground up is an efficient and costeffective solution.

supersized panels in record time,” says Grosso. “These large-scale parts allowed us to substantially accelerate our production time compared to traditional methods.” In order to meet the project’s stringent deadline, OMUS enlisted the support of another Massivit 3D customer, Sydneybased Composite Images. Utilizing the Massivit 1800’s unparalleled print speed of up to fourteen inches per hour, two printers were deployed around the clock, each using dual print heads to produce two hollow panels simultaneously. This allowed the companies to achieve more than thirty panels that would serve as the walls in a matter of days. To ensure the panels could tolerate

the massive 797-foot structure, OMUS 3D-printed several panels with thicker walls while also inserting support “ribs” into them to ensure they didn’t deform throughout the campaign. The 3D-printed outlet was then covered in chrome mirror self-adhesive vinyl and adorned with distinctive Louis Vuitton-designed animal prints, reflecting the theme of the menswear collection on display. “As this project demonstrates, Massivit 3D printing is fundamental to our business offering,” says Grosso. “With the ability to produce premium threedimensional large format displays at a competitive price and timeframe, we are now working in new markets that were previously unattainable to us.”

ittsburgh, Pennsylvania—After assuming a new identity just over one year ago, Covestro needed to give the signage at its North American sites a makeover. Covestro didn’t have far to look for materials, and the company’s polycarbonate sheet is now giving signage at Covestro sites a new look. At its North American headquarters campus in Pittsburgh, the twenty-foot-diameter Covestro logo made from Makrolon® polycarbonate sheet is clearly visible along the busy airport corridor. The logo also appears on a hillside lawn sign that spans forty-eight feet. The ring portion, which measures more than four feet at its widest point, was formed using transparent Makrolon® Abrasion Resistant polycarbonate sheet, which features protective hardcoat technology. To fabricate the lawn sign, the polycarbonate sheet was first cut and routed into the ring shape. Next the Covestro colors were digitally printed on a vinyl film that is adhered to the backside of the polycarbonate. Extensive testing was done to ensure the material was the appropriate thickness to accommodate the large span. Each Covestro letter stands six feet tall, weighs about 300 pounds, and is formed using Makrolon® SL polycarbonate sheet, which offers advanced UV protection. A total of 3,375 LED lights illuminate the ring and letters of the lawn sign.

April 2017

Sign Builder Illustrated


In The Industry SGIA & Packaging


Proving the Power

of digital signs


ntario, California—Mayfield Village in Ohio is a residential community that sponsors many public events and provides unparalleled services from the recreational area (soccer fields, softball fields, playground, a 25-acre wetlands park, and The Grove Amphitheatre). The community, which is also a smaller suburb of Cleveland, makes it a priority to communicate with their residents through valuable information that’s posted on their official Web site and social media pages. “It is important to me that the government in Mayfield Village be open and responsive to the needs of all our residents,” says Mayor Brenda T. Bodnar. Now that information will be posted on the community’s new 6mm, fullcolor, high-resolution LED Sign that was installed by local sign company Akers Signs in Canton, Ohio. Akers Signs has been a reliable producer of quality signage since 1972 serving Northeast Ohio, the Midwest, and beyond. The company has greatly expanded their capacities and range of services over the years, and they have recently excelled by specializing in the installation of LED message displays and illuminated signs. Akers Signs, in turn, sourced the 10

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April 2017

LED sign from innovative Californiabased manufacturer Vantage LED. The LED display located in Mayfield Village blends in well with the surrounding environment; it is encased in natural stone with an internally illuminated, routed identification cabinet on top of it. “Our experience working with Akers Sign and the subcontractors hired for this project was very positive,” says Diane Wolgamuth, director of Administration. “Aside from the usual weather delays that are inevitable in Cleveland, installation went smoothly. Working with the Vantage LED Cloud-based software has been easy for our IT coordinator. “Comments from residents have been positive, and I have heard from several Council members that they think selecting the 6mm screen was the right choice, as the clarity [on it] is outstanding.” Although they are slowly learning what works for them in terms of communicating with their residents, Mayfield Village expects the LED sign will be much busier during the summer months when outdoor events and concerts get underway. This is an example of how digital signage can make a difference in advertising or getting a message out, as well as one that proves the power of digital.

airfax, Virginia—SGIA has signed on as a sponsor of Smithers-Pira’s Digital Print for Packaging US 2017 (DPP) Conference (Atlanta, June 6-7, 2017).SGIA President & CEO Ford Bowers has also accepted a spot on the DPP Advisory Board. The DPP sponsorship supports SGIA’s mission to be the foremost resource for information and education within the specialty imaging industry. “SGIA and its members were early adopters and champions of digital printing technology and techniques,” said Bowers. “Our sponsorship of DPP will help expand knowledge and understanding at this critical time of technical change.” DPP is the only U.S. conference focused exclusively on bringing together digital print for packaging insiders to develop the ideas and capitalize on relationships needed to thrive in this fast-moving market. Hailed as the “must-attend” event for brand owners, converters, printing equipment suppliers, and packaging designers, attendees include everyone from International Paper to Target, Procter & Gamble, PepsiCo, and Hewlett Packard. “We’re pleased to play a role in fostering the growth of digital printing in packaging applications and to help packaging printers and converters manage the coming changes,” Bowers said.


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Sign Show ARCHITECTURAL SIGNAGE Gemini Releases a New 2017 U.S. Professional Signage Catalog The 2017 U.S. Professional Signage Catalog from Gemini, Inc., features new dimensional letter, logo, and architectural plaque product platforms. With an easy-to-understand layout, simplified pricing, and new tabs for quick content reference, the catalog provides a comprehensive overview of Gemini’s products and resources. The publication also showcases developments at Gemini, including new UL-certified LEDilluminated products; the new fabricated aluminum letter and logo product line; expanded stainless steel letter and logo height, depth, and narrow stroke fabrication capabilities; new printing technology for custom shapes and logos; and more. (800) 538-8377;; ISA Booth #2739

BANNERS/MATERIALS/EQUIPMENT Banner Ups Makes Sign History with Its New Banner E.L. Hatton Sales Co., the manufacturer of Banner Ups, has made history by creating a banner that withstood winds up to 108 miles per hour in research wind tunnel tests. The banner was constructed using the company’s improved MegaTape product (launched April 1, 2017) and Banner Ups BravoTab adhesive banner tabs. This is the highest survived wind velocity ever documented for a banner. Grommets were added to reinforce corners in the 108 miles per hour banner, but a banner without grommets withstood winds up to 99 miles per hour—also a new record. E. L. Hatton has developed new tape polymers that, as the tests demonstrate, are able to produce greater banner strength at equal or lower costs.; ISA Booth #3880

CUTTERS/PLOTTERS New Cutters from Roland DGA are Uniquely Designed to Maximize Productivity The CAMM-1 GR series from Roland DGA are large format cutters that deliver best-in-class cutting quality and productivity. Every cutter features an “L-shaped” integrated machine-and-stand design that ensures optimum stability even when cutting at speeds of up to 58.5 inches/second. The cutters offer up to 600 gf of down force for the power needed to cut through thicker media. Each model is also equipped with a new dual-position tool carriage that makes the transition from kiss-cutting to perforating seamless. GR series cutters are capable of reading crop marks generated by the most popular industry-wide software. Users can select from sixty-four-, fifty-four-, and forty-two-inch cutting widths.; ISA Booth #1280

DIGITAL PRINTING EQUIPMENT/SUPPLIES Canon’s Océ Colorado 1640 Features New UVgel Technology At the heart of the new sixty-four-inch, roll-to-roll Océ Colorado 1640 printer is Canon U.S.A, Inc.’s UVgel technology, which combines a new UV curable ink that instantly gels on contact with the media. The printer also features a “self-aware” piezoelectric printhead technology; an LED-based UV system that cures without adding any damaging heat to the media; and continuous, on-the-fly printhead nozzle monitoring and performance compensation. Customers will be able to easily handle peak periods with fully automated media loading and cut expenses with low operating costs. The Océ Colorado 1640's top speed is 1,710 square feet per hour with high-quality P-O-P prints at 430 square feet per hour.; ISA Booth #2068

LED MODULES/TUBES/STRIPS International Light Technologies Launches Its LED Border Tube with Endless Color Options The LED Border Tube from International Light Technologies delivers the broadest range of color and graphics capability of any border tube product on the market. Its unique design allows customers to select any specified translucent vinyl color or printed graphic for virtually endless color and design possibilities (including the matching of company colors). Featuring a cutting-edge, IP67-rated extrusion, the product is UL Listed in the U.S. and Canada. It comes in several standard lengths including six, twelve, twenty-four, thirty-six, forty-eight, seventy-two, and ninety-six inches. It is field-cuttable every two inches, and its low power consumption design enables runs up to fifty feet on a 100-watt power supply.; ISA Booth #2283


Sign Builder Illustrated

April 2017





   

Sign Show LED MODULES/TUBES/STRIPS Keystone Technologies Expands Its Product Line with Direct Drive HiCRI LED Tubes Keystone Technologies introduces an LED tube with a Color Rendering Index (CRI) rating greater than 90. DirectDrive HiCRI tubes increase visual acuity by producing brighter, truer colors (especially reds and whites). They are a drastic improvement over both fluorescent tubes and standard LED tubes, which typically have 80 CRI or less. Keystone’s DirectDrive HiCRI LED tubes are 40 percent more energy efficient than equivalent fluorescent tubes. Built with DirectDrive technology, the HiCRI tubes bypass the ballast and connect directly to line voltage. Shatterproof glass construction means the tubes are durable and safety-approved for food service areas.

PANEL SAWS Set Your Browser to Hendrick Manufacturing’s New Web Site The navigation and design of Hendrick Manufacturing Company’s new Web site has improved greatly to allow viewers to easily see product specifications and information on their service and support options. The new Web site displays one of the broadest ranges of panel saws and CNC routers on the market, including vertical panel and beam saws; manual and automatic CNC horizontal panel saws; and three-, four-, and five-axis CNC routers, software, and tooling. The site will also keep you updated on industry news and products, while a weekly blog will cover topics relating to the use, performance, and safety of the Hendrick equipment. There will also be articles on the panel sheet processing industry.

Digital Signage Solutions

The Gallery Advantage:


Sign Builder Illustrated

April 2017

Sign Show SERVICE EQUIPMENT Altec Introduces the LS87 Aerial Platform Altec's LS87 is a non-insulating, four-stage, hydraulically sequenced telescopic aerial device with a working height of eighty-seven feet and a maximum side reach of sixty-two feet. The unit can be equipped with a 5,900-pound-capacity primary winch for lifting materials as well as a 500-pound jib winch in the platform. The working end of the unit features a 60-by-40-inch, two-man, 600-pound-capacity reach through steel platform with 160-degree platform rotation as standard. With the ability to short-jack the outriggers in confined work spaces and the added rotation of the platform, the LS87 is designed to increase productivity in difficult work environments.; ISA Booth #C16

SIGN SUBSTRATES AXYZ International Releases a PANELBuilder iBook AXYZ International releases its second iBook, AXYZ PANELBuilder – The World’s Leading Panel Fabrication System, which delivers information on AXYZ’s PANELBuilder system designed for the aluminum composite and metal composite markets. The iBook illustrates the features and benefits of the PANELBuilder system— including machine configuration, tooling, process of material, functionality, and software—and shows how it can work for customers in their businesses. The optional application PANELTracker is also highlighted, which allows customers to follow their panels through the manufacturing process using wireless barcode readers. The iBook provides live project status and project inventory levels.; ISA Booth #1539



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April 2017

Sign Builder Illustrated


Sign Show SIGN SUBSTRATES New Laminates Line from Trotec Laser is Designed for Engravers and Sign Makers Trotec Laser Inc., launches a new materials range boasting a selection of more than 400 laser and rotary laminates in a range of colors and options, including laminates, panel materials made of acrylic, and coated materials. Trotec engraving materials are available in a range of surface finishes and are suited for both interior and exterior applications. Trotec laminates are two- or three-ply plastics made of a core layer of modified acrylic, which has been coated with a thin top layer. The engraving process reveals the color of the core material. The materials offer efficient engraving with fewer passes required. They produce less residue, no sticky edges, and minimal post-production cleaning.; ISA Booth #746

TOOLS Get Well VERSEd with the New Spike uniVERSE Case System ikeGPS introduces Spike for the OtterBox uniVERSE Case System. This new version of Spike, a laser measuring solution for site surveys and estimates, features new hardware that attaches to the Otterbox uniVERSE Case System through a slotted rail. With this new design, users can attach Spike interchangeably to an iPhone or iPad without removing the case, which makes it quicker and easier to attach Spike in the field. Spike for the OtterBox uniVERSE Case System comes in black and white colors and is compatible with the iPhone 6, 6s, 6 Plus, 6s Plus, 7, and 7 Plus. The system will be available in early April.; ISA Booth #3800

MODERN AND ADJUSTABLE Flexibility and versatility with your signage requirements

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Trade Discounts » Cut Sheets » Unbranded Catalog Customization » Consultations » Superior Solutions 16

Sign Builder Illustrated

April 2017

3 NEW UNIQUE Colors! Join us at ISA Sign Expo and watch Incognito Wraps transform an everyday vehicle with ORACAL® 970RA UNIQUE Colors by Will Castro Designs wrapping film. See them all at ISA Sign Expo booth 1168!

100 sunset shift (pictured)

905 black galactic gold

372M matte imperial red pearl

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3. ORATAPE速 MT80P Pre-masking and precision cuts made easy; transparent application tape & transparent liner with a pre-printed grid pattern.

Sign Show Kett Scissor Shears Seal Edges of Materials When cutting thin-coated metals, the swiping cut action of Kett Tool’s Company’s KD-441 Scissor Shears seals the edges of the cut material, reducing the likelihood of rust or corrosion to provide a higherquality, finished product. Kett’s KD-441 Scissor Shears use a powerful 5-amp pistol grip and a 0-2,500 RPM variable-speed electric motor that quickly cuts through cold-rolled mild steel (up to 24-gauge), wire mesh (up to 18-gauge), spiral pipe, metal studs, plastics, and rubber. The lightweight scissor shears weigh only five pounds and have an adjustable cutting speed that can be tailored for individual cutting needs to achieve optimal results. All shear heads are precision-made in the United States featuring A-2 tool steel blades for prolonged durability. (513) 271-0333;

VINYL GRAPHICS The Trade Group Brings the “Wow” Factor to Branded Spaces with Printed Flooring The Trade Group announces a durable and highly brandable printed flooring, perfect for tradeshow exhibits, retail environments, and more. From branding to wayfinding to product education, this new printed flooring is revolutionizing branded spaces. Thanks to The Trade Group’s VUTEk hybrid, flatbed printer (which prints on materials up to two inches thick), anything can be printed on flooring. The flooring is constructed of a durable vinyl with a slight texture on the surface to help extend the life of the flooring and to hide any scratches and abrasions from foot traffic. Custom-printed flooring can be used wall-to-wall, to accent or highlight points of interest, or it can be cut into custom shapes. (800) 343-2005;

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April 2017

Sign Builder Illustrated




Crossing Paths How cross-selling can grow your sign business.


Sign Builder Illustrated

April 2017

of an existing fleet graphics customer to sell them graphics for their stores. Cross-selling is more important than just increasing revenues. (Though, that’s not a bad reason to do it.) It gives you an opportunity to build your value to a customer, thereby strengthen-

Cross-selling gives you an opportunity to build your value to a customer. ing the business relationship. A strong bond serves as a barrier from competitive threats. What’s more, servicing one account is often more efficient than servicing several businesses.

Identifying Cross-selling Opportunities In cross-selling, identifying additional opportunities will take a little extra thought and effort, but it’s not that hard. If the account has retail stores, visit a location and conduct an informal survey. Look at the window treatments. What improvements could you suggest? How would these suggestions benefit the customer? Benefits that immediately come to my mind are attracting more attention and building more store traffic. In conducting a store survey, pay attention to the lighting and the paint

Photo: Shutterstock/ Pavel L Photo and Video


f you are unfamiliar with the term “cross-selling,” this means selling a current customer, such as a fleet graphics account, other products and services, such as signs, posters, banners, wall graphics, hanging signage, tradeshow graphics, and window graphics and window displays. I honestly cannot think of another business with as many cross-selling opportunities as sign making. So you would think that cross-selling would be a fairly obvious sales strategy, wouldn’t you? However the embarrassing truth is that many sign shops ignore selling additional products and services to their current customers. Instead of harvesting the low-hanging fruit, many sales people chase after the Holy Grail in hopes of making the big sale. One executive for a very large fleet graphics printer expressed his frustration by complaining that his sales people would drive fifty miles to pitch a prospective truck decal account, but they wouldn’t walk fifty feet down the hall

Cross-selling Differs from Up-selling Many people confuse cross-selling with up-selling. Both are great techniques for increased revenue, but the sales tactics are decidedly different. With cross-selling, you are selling additional products and services to an existing account. Up-selling is a sales technique in which you sell the prospect a higher-end version of what they intend to buy. Butch “Superfrog” Anton is a master of the up-selling technique. Whenever a customer asks Butch to make a simple black-and-white sign, he shows them alternatives. These other options could involve printing or drop shadows or different materials. Each option may cost a little more, but the value-added benefit is greater too. While the customer may have initially expected to spend only twenty-five dollars, more often than not, said customer walks out of Butch’s store with either a fifty- or seventy-five-dollar sign. What’s more, the customer is happy about it because he walks away with a betterlooking sign. Butch is happy too, not just because his revenue increases, but because he now has a client who is likely to be a repeat customer. That’s a true win-win!


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ors as well as the cleanliness of the store and how products are displayed. An attractive store environment enhances the shopping experience. Within the first few minutes of entering a store location, shoppers make judgments about the retailer and the quality of the merchandise based on store graphics and lighting. The first impressions that are generated are not only lasting impressions, but also determine whether the shopper stays or leaves the store. If you have customers who are manufacturers, you should inquire about needs for interior signage and graphics. Fabric banners and wall graphics are a cost-effective way to remodel the appearance of store interiors. On the shop floor, aisle signage helps employees quickly find raw material and finished goods for use in production or for shipping to customers. Factories also have a number of needs for interior signage promoting shop safety programs. When companies attain safety or sales goals, they are also great candidates for banners to announce their achievements to their employees. Equipment manufacturers usually require a variety of safety labels. I once uncovered an opportunity down the street from our factory that generated $125,000 annually in sales business. For more than a year, I had talked to this company about truck graphics before it dawned on me to explore other opportunities. When I worked for RTape, it amazed me that sign companies that we used for exterior signage never once asked us about our needs for tradeshow posters and banners. Compared to the lifetime cost of our building sign, the cost of all of the other graphics over the same period was far greater.

eral buyers are often involved; but it’s certainly easier than selling to a complete stranger. Here’s a sales strategy for these big accounts—ask for help. Start by asking your current contact to introduce you to the other buyers. In the parlance of what is known as strategic selling, your current contact is generally referred to as the sponsor. He can point you in the right direction and identify the key influencers within the account, as well as give you good advice in dealing with the other personalities within the organization. Once the introductions are made, the real work begins. Whether you’re conducting a site survey or conducting a sales discussion, your primary goal should be to identify needs. For most people, this can be the most challenging part of selling because it requires that you carry on a substantive business conversation with your prospect. The Power of Questions One of the best ways to initiate a sales conversation is to ask questions. I know one very successful salesman that prepared his questions well in advance of his sales meeting. Many might

find this approach a bit stilted, but it worked for this person. This technique worked because his questioning was comprehensive and it saved time. By the time the salesman was finished, he had a thorough understanding of the customer’s goals and his problems. Discovering a customer’s needs is vital to making a sale because, if there is no need, there is no opportunity for a sale. Once you determine the problems, then you can propose a solution. The needs analysis/problem-solving sales approach not only is critical in uncovering opportunities, but it also defines you as a valued business consultant versus a peddler. Building Rapport In Dale Carnegie’s book How to Win Friends and Influence People, he suggests that one of the quickest ways to start a relationship is to talk about what the other person wants to talk about and to let him or her do most of the talking. By asking questions, you can discover areas of common interest, which helps in building a rapport with the prospective client. In selling, this is critical because people like doing business with people they like.


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April 2017

Photo: Sawgrass

Selling Larger Businesses Cross-selling to a small business is relatively easy because the business owner or manager often controls all of the purchasing decisions. Selling to large accounts is more complex and challenging because


By David Hickey

Time Enough at Last


oday’s sign, graphics, and visual communications leader already has a busy to-do list. There are new jobs to bid. New products to check out. New expansion opportunities to consider. New employees to hire. Then there are the recurring tasks— designing, fabricating, installing, and managing inventory. And the list goes on and on. So when a sign, graphics, or visual communications company hears about a sign code change being discussed, the natural inclination can be, “I don’t have time for that.” Or maybe there is time to go to the initial meeting, but as the process drags on, participation drops off. And drag on they do. Consider Calvert County, Maryland, where in 2011—no, that’s not a typo—an International Sign Association (ISA) member company contacted ISA and asked us to get involved in a discussion about updating the sign code there.


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April 2017

It was clear that this would be no easy fix. The state Highway Administration had told businesses that directional signs along the main commercial strip violated the law and enforcement was about to begin. So that sent the county into solution mode with a realization that the entire

the isa plays a vital role when it comes to influencing state sign code laws. code would need to be updated. Because ISA got involved in that initial meeting—at the request of the member company—the industry had a place at the table from the start as the

regulations were being drafted. The process they used, which is not an unusual one throughout the country, was that those who participated in the initial meeting would have a role in the revisions. The caveat here was that this would be acknowledged as long as they continued coming to the meetings. So if they missed a meeting, they were off the committee. Flash-forward six years and that code is still in the process of being finalized—but we’re very close. Some of the stops and starts along the way were to be expected. For example, city staff changed, which slowed things down until new staff was up to speed. Other delays were of the once-ina-lifetime variety. When the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in 2015 in the case of Reed v. the Town of Gilbert, the code changes that were already in process were rendered moot. It was back to the drawing board. Through the years, ISA’s involvement and expertise has been welcomed by the county planners. Once they realized that the codes that benefit the sign, graphics, and visual communications industry also benefit businesses and communities, they were receptive to our input. The staff began to see the industry as trustworthy and sought more guidance and expertise. They received names of consultants who could help them overhaul the entire code. Now imagine if that first sign, graphics, and visual communications company leader had tried to keep up with this process throughout the years. It would have been impossible. Some meetings would have been missed, and the opportunity to continue to influence the law would have vanished as well. That’s the vital role that ISA’s

Photo: Shutterstock/Yvonne Navalaney

A shop’s to-do list might limit participation in important issues.

vocacy team plays with our member companies. If we can help with an issue, we will. It’s what we do day in, day out, throughout the country. Some of what we’ve seen happen in California also occurs in Connecticut. Issues that arise in North Carolina may also show up in North Dakota. And often, we encounter issues that we’ve faced before. A sign, graphics, and visual communications company may not have experienced a massive sign code overhaul. We have. Along the way, we bring our expertise to the process while advocating and informing affected members. Sign companies in Virginia and Washington, D.C., also work in Calvert County, Maryland. But they likely don’t subscribe to the local newspaper. And sign code changes rarely make the regional or state papers. So without the input of local members, these issues might be unnoticed— until they take effect and another company comes into the area to complete a job. By then, it is practically too late to un-ring the bell of bad sign codes. In this particular case, we routinely kept members updated and sought their input as changes were discussed. When needed, we also sought their participation. They offered valuable demonstrations to the committee. In other cases, members have been rallied to show up at council meetings as a show of support. Together we’re slowly but surely improving sign codes in Calvert County, Maryland and all across the country. In fact, our association and our members are now considered experts in these issues. But it is up to you to help keep us informed on the front end. If you do that, we’ll keep you informed throughout the many months (and sometimes years!), as the issue winds its way through the legislature. Then you can focus on your business—and seizing the opportunities presented there. David Hickey is vice president, Government Affairs, at the International Sign Association. If you hear about sign code issues and need assistance, contact

April 2017

Sign Builder Illustrated




Increasing Profits Ten great marketing ideas to increase your sign business. that you can send to your intersted clients. Your cost for this newsletter will be minimal, yet your list will continue to grow month by month. You could also offer small discounts if you want to “spread the word” and grow even faster! Step Five: Create a Facebook page for your sign business. This is a fantastic way to get your marketing message out to like-minded businesses that also want to build and grow.

Step One: For immediate marketing exposure, you could upload a company video to YouTube. This unique advertising method could drastically improve your sales and increase your profitability. Of course, your video should be professional quality and not exceed more than five minutes in length. In other words, say it and say it quickly! Step Two: Donate shop-branded prizes to local fundraisers. 24

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April 2017

This is not only a way to get excellent exposure for your sign or graphics company, but you can also show off your products in a comfortable environment—with little or no pressure to potential customers. Step Three: Conisder creating a “Customer of the Month” program. Several of your past customers, as well as some of your newer ones, would be eager to join a “Customer of the Month” program. So just what is a Customer of the Month program? This is a designation applicable to certain customers who buy your products several times a month or regularly throughout the year. When they are chosen as Customer of the Month, they are given an additional discount or a designated freebie (sign, banner, etc.) for the honor. Step Four: Start up a free monthly email newsletter

Step Seven: Update your business cards. Design and create nice business cards with legible copy and a professional layout and printing. If you are not a layout artist, please consult a professional. You will be amazed at the difference they bring.

offer small discounts if you want to “Spread the word” about your business.

Photo: 3M


f your sign business is not what it used to be, perhaps we can turn it around and make it a first-class sign company with record sales. This month, let’s take a look at several items that can easily increase your profits in just a few short days. And the good news is that many of these tactics I’m going to mention can be done without a major upfront investment from you!

Step Six: Rent a booth space for your sign shop at a tradeshow. Most tradeshows last two to three days in length. You will set up a booth and occupy the booth until the tradeshow is over. Face-to-face interaction is the best way to introduce a new product or service, and the closing ratio for tradeshow booths is higher than any other method.

Step Eight: Create a brochure that will sell your product. This is where the rubber meets the road. Design professional brochures that will entice and convince even the most skeptical buyers. You must create the best presentation available for your product—the first time. Second place is still second place! Step Nine: Sell to your client over and over again. Never settle on selling your client a single sign. Look around and see what your customer is lacking. Wall signs? Post signs? Individual molded plastic letters? Make mental notes and discuss the opportunity to enhance your client’s marketing on a grand scale. Step Ten: Always follow up with a current client. If your client buys once, then good for you! But if your client buys two, three, or more signs from you, then you have a client that you must nurture and definitely have to keep on your “satisfied customer” list. And that, ladies and gentlemen, is where the profit is! Mark K. Roberts is a native Houstonian and has been the owner of The InterSign Group in Houston, Texas since 1980.

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wraps By lori Author shridhare

Wrap if by Land;

Wrap if by O

ver the last decade, the advancement of printing capabilities has led to a richness of color previously unachievable. Not surprisingly, small entrepreneurial partnerships established a foothold in the vehicle graphics and wrap industry during this time. 28

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April 2017

Small “mom-and-pop” design and install artists, as well as master crafters, team up as they are inspired by the world of large format—banners, wraps, ads, etc. With Adobe® software at their fingertips, the possibilities for creating dynamic designs are limitless.

Introducing Rockwall Wraps Rockwall Wraps (rockwallsignsandwraps. com) of Greenville, Texas, utilizes the same talent in designing vehicle wraps as they do for their own branding. From their logo to the treatment of their business name, which infuses a graffiti style mixed with the elegant

Break through the Installing graphics distractions with for every type unexpected signage. of vehicle.

All Photos: Rockwall Wraps.


script font that displays “Wraps Garage” on their home page, each page of their Web site is infused with fiery colors and a diverse, “hip” scene that uses classic Volkswagen, rough-and-tumble Wranglers, and a flag-studded Humvee set against a dark garage scene, reminiscent of noir film.

as an art director) and Brad Ivey (who worked as the lead installer at Gigantic Color for fifteen years), the two have watched the wrap industry blossom. Partnering as an install/graphic design team, the two decided to move Rockwall Wraps away from what their experience might have dictated—creating just signs and banners—to focus solely on wraps. “The next four years, Rockwall Wraps grew roughly 300 percent,” says Ivey. “We have been to forty-two states and five countries installing everything from small, compact car fleets to large box truck fleets for Fortune 500 companies to interior graphics for AT&T call centers.” The company has expanded to include three designers, who have graduated from the Art Institute of Austin/ Dallas, and a full installation team. The “garage” is a 10,000-square-foot, climate-controlled facility set on a sixacre lot. Inside this busy hub, the designers and installers have their hands full working on wraps split approximately 70 percent for vehicles, 20 percent boats, and 10 percent interior graphics, including wall graphics and murals. Setting Anchor with Marine Graphics Flanked on all sides by Lake Tawakoni, Rockwall also takes on marine graphics to diversify their clientele—and for the pure pleasure of switching gears so they can focus on the often sleek styles that come with boat models. Ivey points out a few reasons why marine wraps are requested: 1. The wrap might be a replacement for the boat’s clear coat if it starts to fade, or it’s used to simply preserve the paint job.

These Web “scenes” set the stage for integrated marketing that showcases some of the signature projects this company has worked on for both local and national clients. Founded as Rockwell Graphics in 2007 by current co-owners Jeff Chambliss (who previously worked at FASTSIGNS

2. Certain types of commercial vessels—from small companies to larger operations—are moving to marine advertising, especially the fishing industry. 3. Some wraps are requested by boat owners who are looking for a custom wrap to give their boat a unique identity. Ivey cautions that it’s important to work with designers and installers who April 2017

Sign Builder Illustrated


70 percent of Rockwall’s work is comprised of vehicle wraps.

Once you can find the right clients that use wraps and change them out regularly, that’s where your business will grow. understand the fine print on working with marine graphics. “No matter what your reason for wrapping a boat, the project has to be done with the right material,” he says. “And the installers better know what they are doing.” Rockwall Wraps relies on 3M™ Controltac™ Wrap Series 180 for these jobs, since it offers three different laminates. Ivey points out that there are some operators who “fish their boat to the limit,” and for them, he has learned that two layers of laminate gives the boat the protection it needs and “doesn’t fail when they drag a tree limb down it.” (To an extent, that is.) 30

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April 2017

To install graphics on boats in a facility built for cars and trucks, the team uses a lift that hoists the boat up, placing it on a dolly. Wraps Over Land, Water...and Walls Rockwall’s recent projects, not surprisingly, spread across land and sea. For vehicle graphics, they are currently working on a Mercedes van for a local plumbing company, a Honda CRV for a paint company, and a Lexus NX 200 T for a prominent car dealership in Dallas. On sea, they’re directing their creative talent to their annual work supporting world-renowned anglers. This year,

they’re wrapping a boat for the angler who can boast the honor of being one of the top 100 anglers in the world, with Cabela’s (hunting and outdoor equipment store) as a sponsor. They also just finished wrapping a bass fishing boat that Rockwall directly sponsors, incorporating reflective overlays and black chrome. Or on any given day, the team might even be out installing custom wall murals for restaurants, in office lobbies or personal offices, and even residences. One recent unique project was designing walls filled with license plate images. The client, an auto insurance company, requested that the license plate panels cover the break rooms, the common areas, and even their office tables. Designs on Success It’s no surprise that the secret to Rockwall’s success is perfecting the design process, which Ivey deems the most important part in the many steps of creating a wrap. “Our design team is trained to ask specific questions to ensure that the

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February 2017

Sign Builder Illustrated


client is totally happy with the finished product,” he says. “They discuss, at length, the client’s branding goals, possible colors, messages, and any specific themes to capture, followed by a discussion of all the services we offer.” He adds that having this information is essential for making the design process easier for both the designer and the client.

To provide a preview of the design, the team uses vehicle templates that demonstrate what the design will look like on the client’s vehicle model. Most importantly, Rockwall Wraps works hard to meet their clients’ needs— and their budgets. “When a client comes in and requests a wrap, they don’t always end up with a full

wrap,” says Ivey. “The sales team prices a full wrap, and if the client doesn’t have it in their budget, then we let them know we can design around their budget and give a proof of the design, which is known as a partial wrap.” Tools of the Trade Last but not least, the installation process demands a precise eye, skilled hands, and expertise in using the right tools at the right time. Ivey and his team are inspired by the many improved tools that are coming out to support their work. “Squeegees have improved with smoother surfaces—they also now have some bend and come ridged,” he says. “For rivets, brushes used to be the way to go, but over the last couple of years, RollePro vinyl applicators have become very popular. They save us tons of time. “There are dozens of different tools, but at the end of the day, what the installer installs best with is what you need to use.” Concluding Thoughts As we discuss his ideas on wrapping trends this year, Ivey foresees colorchanging vinyls, chrome vinyl, and matte/satin finishes as mainstays. He also thinks the industry will see more designers working with layering vinyls to create more dimensional and intricate effects. “I also see companies producing new laminates that will make a wrap look more like a paint job,” he says. “As a 3M-certified facility, we get the opportunity to take a look first at the latest and greatest 3M and other major vendors have to offer. We then relay this information to our customers and try to stay ahead of the game, when it comes to the latest trends in the wrap industry.” While the colors are diverse and the designs vary, one tip that Ivey shares is that revenue builds with repeat clients. “We do such a variety of different projects—from food trucks to boats to wall murals,” he says. “Once you can find the right clients that use wraps and change them out regularly, that’s where your business will grow.”


Sign Builder Illustrated

April 2017

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IMPOSSIBLE U nited World Soccer is a retailer devoted exclusively to soccer apparel, gear, and accessories. However this chain is not some “run-of-the-mill” sports warehouse; instead the retail company bills itself as “a destination for soccer lovers.” Because of this philosophy, they try to make all their locations stand out more than the presentation typically found at a sporting goods store. So when it came time for the soccer retailer to open a new store location at the Westfield Brandon Mall near Tampa, Florida, they knew they were going to need a sign experience outside the store that was just as immersive as inside. (Note: The Westfield Mall brand is seen as a little more cutting-edge and state of the art, compared to other shopping centers.)


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April 2017

Setting the Lineup The innovative solution is an entirely illuminated storefront, and the full-service sign company responsible for it is Global Sign & Awning (globalsignlight. com), located in Clearwater, Florida. “We draw it, we print it, we manufacture it, and we install it,” says Owner Christopher Wicks II. The Clearwater facility totals about 5,500 square feet and covers all the bases. “We have fifteen employees—designers, fabricators, installers, project managers, etc.,” says Wicks. “We also have someone in-house who handles the entire permitting process.” Global Sign & Awning provides signs of all types for corporate, small business, and private group clients throughout the entire state of Florida. “We’re doing a lot of work for clients like Denny’s®

Mathematics and signs add up to a storefront’s identity. and Subway®,” says Wicks, “so we’re very familiar with corporate guidelines and what’s needed on our end.” Wicks credits getting involved with the Westfield Brandon Mall United World Soccer project thanks to his long-time working relationship with local architect Bob Gregg. “[Bob] helped me out when I was first getting started,” says Wicks. (Note: See Editor’s Column on page 6.) “He had finished doing some drawings for another United World Soccer location at another mall when he told me he was going to be doing another location nearby us. “He reached out and asked if we’d be interested in taking this on.” There was a reason for this. Global Sign & Awning employees are absolute experts at crafting high-end, custom projects for clients.

All Photos: Global Sign & Awning.

Mission not-so-

Wicks took a look at what idea the United World Soccer team had drawn up—an LED-illuminated storefront consisting of irregularly cut and shaped triangular panels with extreme peaks and extreme valleys. “We looked at the plans and saw that the whole storefront was three-dimensional,” says Wicks. “These internally illuminated peaks and valleys on the storefront were really going to create a challenge.” And on top of that, the existing storefront façade was not level at all. “For example, there’s an I-beam poking out,” says Wicks. “And then there were all these obstacles we had to consider on the back and the front of the cabinets.” Developing a Game Plan Wicks was eventually referred the job and soon met with Jim Needham, national account coordinator of Westfield Brandon Mall. Needham told him that mall management thought it was going to be physically impossible to precisely manufacture and install this illuminated storefront concept, and they weren’t going to allow his company to proceed if it couldn’t be done correctly. “[Jim] is real blunt and very straightforward,” says Wicks, “and on a project such as this, that is much appreciated. “He told us upfront that the mathematics behind completing the project were unobtainable. “But he gave us his full blessing to take a shot at it.” And take a shot at it Global Sign & Awning did. In fact, Wicks had the feeling that they were being set up for failure, which just provided more motivation for them to accomplish this. “It took weeks of planning to get all the mathematics for the dimensions and the measurements exactly right—the peak highs and the valley lows,” says Wicks, crediting the additional support of Mike St. Pierre, president/CEO of Art-Works Signs & Awnings, and the skills of his friend Clyde Canup. Westfield Brandon Mall also had restrictions on how far the cabinets could project out from the existing storefront.

“And LEDs restricted how shallow we could go with the cabinets to avoid any hot spots,” says Wicks. There was zero room for any flaws or imperfections. “It wasn’t like these pieces were going sixty feet in the air, allowing you to get away with a little bit more in the design and production process,” says Wicks. “People can literally just walk right up and touch it.”

The project was called impossible, but that gave the sign shop greater motivation to accomplish the difficult job. Goals for Design and Build Global Sign & Awning’s solution was to take the behind-the-scenes obstacles and build the five-inch-deep cabinets with certain areas of dimension

added to them in order to slide them over the storefront columns and avoid these obstacles. The specially shaped panels are made out of Lexan® material. “Since we knew they were going to be so low to the ground, people were probably going to be touching it or kicking it,” says Wicks. “We didn’t want to use acrylic, because it would crack. However you can hit Lexan with a baseball bat if you wanted, and it won’t leave a mark.” Every piece of Lexan on the storefront was laid on there and cut by hand so that the mathematics behind it would be correct. “If we draw a triangle, let’s say it’s twenty-four inches wide, but then you turn it forty-five degrees, it’s no longer going to be twenty-four inches,” says Wicks. “It may now be thirty inches or thirty-six inches, in order to hit the other piece of material.” Global Sign & Awning was able to make a custom sub-frame for the cabinets based on the angle of the Lexan. They then laid all the raw sheets of material on there, traced them, cut them all out by hand, and attached green vinyl over the faces. “We then bent custom retainers based on the angle of the peak or the

April 2017

Sign Builder Illustrated


valley so that all the retainers would sit nice and flush on those peaks and valleys,” says Wicks. One hundred percent of the green storefront is illuminated with white LEDs from HanleyLED. “Our challenge was manufacturing the pieces small enough to where we could fit them through the doors of the mall for the installation,” says Wicks, “but also be large enough where we weren’t having to put up 600 or 700 pieces.” The first idea was to make each triangle shape its own cabinet. “However everyone agreed that this would take too long,” says Wicks, noting that the decision was made to make larger cabinets and place the strategically cut faces onto them. The storefront left their shop in six pieces. “The vertical pieces on the left and right of the windows are four cabinets,” says Wicks. “Then the two pieces above the windows are two more cabinets.” Global Sign & Awning also manufac-

tured and installed an aluminum LED halo-illuminated silhouetted soccer player and United World Soccer logo. “They gave us the designs for their

It took weeks of planning to get the mathematics exactly right. There was zero room for flaws or imperfections. official logos here in EPS format,” says Wicks, “and we manufactured an aluminum cabinet with push-thru copy. We used green LED uplighting behind

the grass portion above the name.” The bottom of that cabinet wraps underneath the entrance of the storefront, and then it extends about twenty-four-inches into the opening of the store’s entrance. “So if you look up underneath it, the sign comes down and wraps around into the entrance of the storefront,” says Wicks. Opening for Business It took about three weeks for Global Sign & Awning to fabricate all the pieces, figures, and panels for this immersive storefront. Wicks laughs that, because of the need for precise measurements to make the “impossible” possible, he visited the site five different times for surveys. “I would go back and check something and check it again,” he says, “because I knew there was going to be zero tolerance. It had to fit perfectly. “If we were unsure about a measurement or the way something worked,

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rather than guessing, we went back and measured again.” Because they had to be a specific shape and fit the exact dimensions of the cabinets, Global Sign & Awning put the finished Lexan pieces inside the custom-made cabinets and transported them out to the mall. However because of these shape and dimension needs, Global Sign & Awning avoided their CNC router here and instead marked out the Lexan pieces and cut them all out by hand. “We weren’t able to make a CNC routing file,” says Wicks, “because once you turn it, the dimension changes. And being under a time crunch, we didn’t want to risk it having a face being one-inch too short or one-inch too big after it comes off the CNC.” All the materials and LEDs were checked out and tested at the shop before making the trip out to Westfield Brandon Mall. “There is never a sign that leaves our

shop that isn’t tested beforehand,” explains Wicks. Installation of all the United World Soccer Lexan and aluminum storefront pieces took place at night, when Westfield Brandon Mall was closed. “We got onsite at eight o’clock Friday night and left at eight o’clock the following morning,” says Wicks. The installation crew used scissor lifts to lift all the pieces into precise place. The power supplies for all the LEDs in the cabinets are located above the drop ceiling. “There are also air vents we had to avoid in those cabinets,” says Wicks. “So we had to make sure the cabinet fit perfectly over the air vents, because the mall didn’t want us to block them.” Customer Care Westfield Brandon Mall is very strict on the level of quality they would accept, so Wicks’s heart sank a bit when he received a call from [Jim] telling him that

his bosses from California were coming in, and they wanted to speak with him in person. “As I’m walking up to the store, I saw [Jim] and two other gentlemen in suits standing there,” he says. “I could tell they were pretty important figures.” Wicks continues, “Like I said earlier, [Jim] doesn’t sugar-coat anything, and he immediately asked to comment first. He told me that when he gave us this project, it was going to be impossible to accomplish it. He said not only did we accomplish it, but this has become the beacon of our mall. Congratulations! It looks incredible! “That moment and that compliment coming from that person, who has really high standards, meant the world to me, and I shared this compliment with my team.” Wicks always credits his team for his company’s successes. “I just go in and help them,” he says. “They’re the ones who make all this magic happen.”

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Shining a Light on LED Trends Ventex Technology, Inc.’s motto, “It’s a new day,” reflects the company’s fresh start after being bought by Principal LED a few years ago. (Note: Transco To Go, LLC was also bought and rolled into Ventex.) The company is boasting more stock on the shelves, an easier return policy, and a commitment to customer service. But you could also say it’s a “new day” for LED lighting too. While LEDs are no longer a novel product in our industry, some of the trends surrounding the lighting type are new. We spoke with Daryl Foreman, national sales manager at Ventex and Prinicipal LED, about a few of these trends.

One of the biggest developments in LED lighting is the move to thinner, shallower channel letters. “We built channel letters five inches,” says Foreman, “because that’s what we had to do for neon. And when LEDs came into the world, we still made them five inches deep for a long time. Now a three-inch-deep channel letter has become the norm in a lot of areas.” To properly light these shallow letters, shops have begun using optic lenses and LEDs with a larger viewing angle. The retrofit business continues to grow, but now that LED options for lighting sign cabinets have hit the market, cabinet retrofits are a big

part of that business as well. “The number of cabinets that are out there is much greater than the number of channel letters,” says Foreman. “The market for replacing the fluorescents with LEDs is huge.” Other lighting trends on the horizon include external and architectural building lighting, such as washing a wall with color. Color itself is becoming a big deal in LED lighting. The color capabilities of LEDs have always been limited when compared to a light source like neon, but thanks to tinted lenses, LEDs are now able to match a wider range of corporate and branding colors. —Ashley Bray


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Feature Name pylon By JEFF Author WOOTEN

Hitting the mark with a new pylon sign.



ast year, Reload Gun Range constructed a 60,000-square-foot indoor shooting range, retail store (complete with firearms, ammunition, accessories, and apparel), and training facility in Tarpon Springs, Florida. The property had once belonged to a motel, but that facility had been demolished to make room for this brand-new complex, which now also happens to be


Sign Builder Illustrated

April 2017

the largest indoor range in Florida. Reload Gun Range management may have built a state-of-the-art facility that relegated the then-out-dated motel to a mere memory, but they still desired to reuse the already-existing fifty-eightfoot-tall pylon that was still standing there. They just needed to remove the rusted, cabinet-less frame from it and install a new illuminated sign there.

Full-service Global Sign & Awning (, located in nearby Clearwater, Florida, was responsible for providing this new vision, but to say it came with a set of sign-making challenges would be an understatement. Creating this towering achievement involved the standard, four-step inhouse process the company uses for all the signs they make: design (utilizing

All Photos: Global Sign & Awning.


this project’s success is not only attributed to delivering the finished pylon sign on time but also in the team believing in themselves and coming together.

industry-standard software to make a sign “simple, elegant, and effective”); pre-press (creating layers, vectors, and cut lines so that the design can be produced as manageable pieces); production (assembling all the pieces together on specification); and installation (using bucket trucks and cranes). Owner Christopher Wicks II has dealt heavily with contractors, developers,

and real estate in working on building signage for shopping centers and their tenants. “I had worked closely with the developer on this project for a number of years,” he says. “In fact, he was actually one of our first clients.” This developer connected Wicks with the management at Reload Gun Range, who agreed to let Global Sign & Awning handle this pylon sign for them. But there was a problem: The height of the sign they wanted (fifty-eight feet) was well over the footage that the municipality would allow (fourteen feet). So Global Sign & Awning designed the sign two different ways—the finished version that you see and a smaller, condensed version that would fit within the municipality’s guidelines. Everyone agreed that the taller version was the way to go (for readability and visibility’s sake). And have we mentioned yet that Reload Gun Range management wanted the new pylon sign ready in time for their grand opening—in two weeks! At this point, Global Sign & Awning didn’t yet have the blessing from the municipality to proceed with this sign. “So we had to go full-force to get approval from them,” says Wicks. The steel poles from the motel’s sign were all that remained by the time

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Global Sign & Awning came onboard. So Wicks told the municipality that, instead of building everything from scratch, they wanted to use poles to refurbish what was already there. “I wanted to add up the square footage of the existing cabinets and reconfigure it into the style of this new cabinet,” he says. The Reload team also worked closely with the mayor of Tarpon Springs on getting a permit to put the new signs onto the steel poles. “It wasn’t an easy fight,” says Wicks, “but the city was very supportive of the gun range, as the municipality does a lot of police training there.” Once they received permit approval, Global Sign & Awning had to get the materials ready in order to build and erect the sign in an “incredible amount

of time.” To solve this time-crunch, the production team scheduled both day and night shifts over a two-week period to produce the sign. “We fabricated all day,” he says, “and then painted the pieces with Matthews Paint all night.” There are several sections of this pylon sign. The top cabinet features a CNC-routed aluminum face with back-lit “Reload” channel letters. Underneath it, the “Quality Indoor Shooting Range” letters are just routed copy backed with red plex. The “Retail Shop Rifle Range” and “Concealed Weapons Courses” sections are actually one internally illuminated aluminum cabinet featuring vinyl lettering on Panaflex faces and a painted aluminum divider separating them. Global Sign & Awning used white

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Global Sign & Awning decided to add cleats on the pole covers to house decorative red LED modules.

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LEDs from HanleyLED inside the cabinets and on the backs of the channel letters. “We used Chanelume trimless channel letters,” says Wicks, ‘because I’ve seen trimcaps fail over the years.” Wicks wanted the entire sign to be attractive, but he felt the new covers created for the pre-existing steel poles were too plain. “I wanted them to really light up,” he says. So Global Sign & Awning made a channel that recessed into the pole cover. They then added red HanleyLED lighting inside of it and attached trimless face over them. Wicks decided it would be wise to add cleats on the pole covers to secure these decorative red acrylic faces. “But rather than a standard cleat, we used a transparent silver vinyl on the top and bottom of those cleats,” he says. This means that, during daytime hours, the cleat appears to be a solid piece (because they painted the return to exactly match the vinyl), and at night, the LED lights turn on and shine out of the top and the bottom of the cleats. The finished sign left their shop for its trip to the gun range in six pieces: the two bottom black bases of the poles, the two pole covers, the lower Panaflex face cabinet, and the upper channel letter-mounted cabinet. In addition to their bucket truck, Global Sign and Awning brought Sims

Crane & Equipment Co., of Tampa to help with the install. They stacked everything one piece at a time, building from the bottom upwards. However the grade that the pylon sign was to be installed upon was on a slope. This required strategic parking of the service trucks and extending the outriggers on the back of the boom truck. “We also had to dig out around the two poles, so that they would be able to sit even with one another,” says Wicks. They arrived on-site at seven o’clock in the morning and didn’t leave the job until midnight. “Generally an install doesn’t take us that long,” says Wicks. “We had to pull an all-nighter to finish everything because of the grand opening the following day.” Wicks says that this project’s success is not only attributed to delivering the finished pylon sign on time, but also in his team believing in themselves and coming together. “I knew they had it in them,” says Wicks, “and they came out of this stronger. They went around-the-clock to make it happen. Some guys were doing eighteen- and nineteen-hour days just to [finish] it. “It was amazing to see how passionate and involved our team became through this project and how they really worked together!”

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during daytime hours, the cleat appears to be a solid piece, but at night, the LED lights turn on and shine out of the top and the bottom of the cleats.

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The Tampa Bay Rowdies soccer club achieves its goals with awnings and signs.

Out of Signage T he Tampa Bay Rowdies is a professional United Soccer League (USL) team based in St. Petersburg, Florida. The owner of the team, Bill Edwards (who also owns a huge development company in the area), was looking to spruce up Rowdies Den, a combination apartment building/ 48

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April 2017

restaurant/parking structure located one block away from the team’s 7,500-seat Al Lang Stadium in the downtown area. He wanted a new main identity sign reflecting the club’s colors, as well as new awnings that would replace the plain, weathered ones then in use. So Edwards called Global Sign & Awn-

ing (, a full-service sign company in Clearwater, Florida. He told Owner Christopher Wicks II that he was in need of signage and awnings—as soon as possible. The first game of the team’s season was right around the corner. Edwards requested if it was possible to remove the old signs and awnings

All Photos: Global Sign & Awning.

Getting Kicks

and replace them with new versions in eighteen days; Wicks responded that he would meet Edwards out at the stadium that day. “We didn’t have a second to waste,” he says. Color-coordinated Awnings The only ones present in the stadium during the initial meeting that morning were Wicks, Edwards, and a few members of Edwards’s entourage. One piece of the total sign package that Edwards wanted was to recover the existing awning frames with striped patterns that precisely matched the team’s color scheme. This proved to be a particular sticking point. Wicks showed him color and vinyl charts of what they could provide with the awnings, but Edwards was not impressed with the options. “He told us that our options were not acceptable,” remembers Wicks. “He pointed at the empty yellow-and-green seats and said that those were the colors he wanted for the awnings.” Wicks respectfully told Edwards that those colors were unavailable. So Edwards had Wicks follow him to the front row stands of the stadium and told him to turn around and look again at all the custom green-colored seats. “He said, ‘You’re going to tell me that you can’t make these awnings this green color, yet I can have these 7,500 seats around us made with this custom green color?’” says Wicks. With that statement, Wicks understood where Edwards was coming from, so he told him that they would immediately figure out how to make them that color! Global Sign & Awning designers researched Pantone® colors and made sure that there were no variables. Another challenge with the awnings is that they’re striped. The green-andyellow pattern had to line up flawlessly when stretched over the existing frames. “Because of the way the frames were split, the pattern and the material had to be divided up,” he says. “When we stretched it, you may have had a seam right in the middle of a green stripe or two-thirds of the way through a green stripe. “We had to split the custom printing accordingly and install it very specifically.”

The trick, according to Wicks, was section one. “This section wasn’t going to end perfectly,” he says. “It was like half a green stripe. So the beginning of section two had to be the difference of that green stripe. “Then it had to be stretched spot-on or else, where the awnings met, you’d have one stripe too wide or too thin. We credit

being able to achieve this through coaching from my mentor, Mike St. Pierre, owner of Art-Works Signs & Awnings.” Global Sign & Awnings measured the awning frames by taking them down and bringing them back to their shop. They stretched the frames while there and then took these frames back to the site. “We did this because we had to fab- Dedicated to the sign industry Visit us at the ISA Sign Expo in Booth 5496, and see how FASI can provide information for you, your customers and city planners.

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Sign Builder Illustrated


ricate a new, custom bull-nose awning piece too using a frame roller and a welder,” explains Wicks. “So we dry-fitted the whole thing in the shop and then stretched it all. Then we took the frames back to the site and bolted the pieces together and reattached it to the building.” From the frame measurements, they created a print file featuring the stripes.

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Sign Builder Illustrated

April 2017

of the building (extending down to the end of the building on both sides). Close to a hundred feet of awning material in total was printed over three days. Florida Graphic Services delivered the printed awnings to Global Sign & Awning in rolls that were labeled with designations on the back. “The labels helped us cut up the awning material and stretch it around the frames,” says Wicks. Main Identification Sign Global Sign & Awning also built a main identification contour sign featuring pan-formed faces and aluminum retainers with embossed copy that would highlight the entrance to Rowdies Den. For this, the Tampa Bay Rowdies organization sent Global Sign & Awning their team logo (the word “Rowdies”) in an EPS format. Using this file, the sign company fitted the word “Den” under the “Rowdies” in a similar font style, to add balance to the entire layout. This sign is a twelve-inch-deep LEDilluminated cabinet with white LEDs from HanleyLED spaced standard five inches on center. “The power supply is located inside the cabinet,” says Wicks. “The primary wires sneak out the left side of the cabinet and straight through pre-drilled holes in the brickwork and run into the building.” Careful planning was conducted to put the almost-300-pound, pan-formed sign up on the building. Part of its challenge is that there is an eight-foot-wide wall of glass behind where it was to be placed on the building. “Sometimes we can just boom a sign up over a building and slide it right into place. But we had to be extra-careful because of the glass,” says Wicks. “There was zero room for error. If our truck just taps that glass, we would easily break a panel. “This would not only be expensive, but it would also cost us time.” Since the restaurant is located just one block away from the stadium, it had to be open for the first game of the season to welcome fans afterwards. “So we obviously couldn’t have a broken panel of glass on the front of the building for people going to the restaurant to see,” says Wicks. Global Sign & Awning ended up making the finished sign just wider than the

glass. They then used ThunderBolt® anchor bolts to fasten it to the bricks on the left and right of the glass. (Note: Global Sign & Awning also built two non-illuminated, vinyl-covered directional parking signs attached to custom green-painted frames and bolted to one of the corners of the complex.) The Global Sign & Awning installation team, led by Lead Installer Robby Trimble, set up a crane truck, a trailer, and a boom truck on the sidewalks. Because the Rowdies Den building houses a parking garage, apartments, and a restaurant, there were challenges involved with access and parking. “Since that’s the only entrance, we couldn’t put up a barricade,” says Wicks, noting they had foot traffic underneath the sign the entire installation. They installed the pan-formed ID sign, the awnings, and the two wayfinding signs all on the same day. They began at five o’clock in the morning and didn’t leave the premises until nine o’clock that evening.

Tight Time Crunch As you’ve seen throughout this issue, Global Sign & Awning is very good at meeting tight deadlines. Wicks credits his team and stresses their importance and value to the sign shop. “I always tell my team that pres-

sure, while uncomfortable, brings out the greatness in us.” Through focus and organization, Global Sign & Awning was able to finish this project in regulation time and score a winning set of signage and awnings for the Rowdies soccer club.





April 2017

Sign Builder Illustrated



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elling and producing a successful wayfinding package for your customer takes teamwork. The effort needs a team leader, a game-winning strategy, reliable team members, and, sometimes, a coach. You might be thinking to yourself that it takes more time and energy than you have to put into wayfinding; however we 54

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April 2017

encourage you to give it a chance. The first thing to realize is not to tackle it by yourself. Enlist your team and learn together. Or talk to friends in the trade for a little coaching. What Jobs Make Up the Team? Most of the skillsets and positions to fill the roster of this wayfinding dream team

already exist in a sign shop, but if yours is a smaller business, you and one or two others will likely fill them all. Here are examples of what your team might look like: Sales/Point Person makes the sale, gathers the client’s input, and tracks the job in the field. In larger companies, this person turns the day-to-day

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On large-scale projects, it is a good idea to have a Capabilities Statement prepared and ready to go when you need it.

ity over to a staff team leader while staying in touch with the client and others on the project. Accounting/Customer Service prepares a cost analysis, puts together the pricing for the bid/proposal, anticipates cash flow requirements, and works with the staff to keep the job as well as the budget in line. Production Manager sources materials, assures timely availability, guarantees environmental requirements, and times purchases and deliveries to meet manufacturing and installation schedules. They also coordinate shop and client schedules with pre-determined deadlines and logistics for deliverables. Project Manager creates a message schedule outlining what sign types are assigned to each function (i.e., “Department Identification”), what copy is planned for them, and where they are located. This person also prepares all documents, works with designers on drawings (if they are not supplied beforehand), and checks on all related lo56

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April 2017

cal, state, and federal sign regulations. And remember, if you cannot do the whole project because of lack of experience or the staff to handle the job, some wholesale providers can help you gain a leg up by supporting your efforts to win large projects.

most of the skillsets and positions to fill this wayfind dream team already exist in a sign shop. Turn to the providers you trust. Begin with handling the part you know best and, as you learn new phases of the project, take those on the next time, con-

stantly moving toward facilitating the whole process in your own shop. What is the Game Plan? The Request for Proposal (RFP) from the buyer or representative contains the game plan. In it, you will find all the requirements for the sign phase of the project. Follow the RFP to the letter—noting the details requested—and answer their questions completely and clearly when submitting your bid. Not doing so could cause you to lose out. On large-scale or government jobs, you will likely be asked for a Capabilities Statement describing your company, your length of time in business, and any projects you have handled that are similar to the one up for bid as an indication of past performance. If you don’t have one already, it is a good idea to have a Capabilities Statement prepared and ready to go when you need it. And if you are partnering with a vendor that has experience in the related

field, you will want to include their credentials as well. The potential buyer may request information about your team—a list of people who will work on the program and each one’s role (including their skills, qualifications, and work background). Get the Details You have heard it before: “There are no foolish questions.” So ask away—especially before you quote and/or accept the job! No matter how small or large the project is, the more you know, the better you’ll do. On some projects, you may be invited to a bidders’ meeting where the package will be described and questions answered. You particularly will want to know the buyer’s “expectations.” “It all takes careful planning,” says Kevin Wenck, owner/operator of a FASTSIGNS franchise in southeastern Pennsylvania, who recently completed signage for a 10,000-seat arena and ho-

tel complex that takes up an entire city block. “To get it right, you have to have the knowledge of exactly what they want. “Is it a new project or a retrofit? Will the signs be matching or different? Is the artwork provided or are you creating it?” Wenck says there’s a lot to do on a wayfinding project, but in the long run, it is worth it. “Nine times out of ten, things take more time than you think they will,” he says, “because you want to get everything right the first time. Surveying the site is crucial. [Doing this] can make or break the installation. “To eliminate any surprises, you are going to want to be sure you make the needed adjustments before you start the install.” Depending upon the size and quantities of the signs required, Wenck says it is important to set up your shop to make jigs to handle material and have your machines “ready to rock ‘n roll.” These signs are not one-offs, he ac-

knowledges. They require a well thoughtout assembly line process. Wenck tries not to bring in extra workers unless he really needs them, since cash flow is an important consideration in large-scale jobs. “You have to pay for a boatload of material in the process,” he says, advising sign shops to be prepared for that. “Landing [the arena-hotel] was a great

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Sign Builder Illustrated


“When you are working with a construction company, there is more paperwork than one thinks to be filled out,” he says. “They have to consider prevailing wages and union regulations too.”

Collaborate with your team members on activities, schedules, and deadlines.

prize, but we were not in a position to do a job that required 2,000-plus signs and wayfinding coordination on our own. “It was nice to have the back-up of a partner [Clarke Systems] who has gone


Sign Builder Illustrated

April 2017

through this.” Wenck also adds the heads-up that, while it can be very much worth the effort, every large-scale project is time-consuming.

Establish Guidelines and Set Goals You will want to stipulate in your proposal—and initiate when you land the project—that the client names their own team of no more than five people to represent the company’s needs. As the project begins, start with an introductory meeting of both teams to collaborate on activities, schedules, and deadlines. The buyer’s team leader provides all required in-house data, seeks stakeholder input, reviews shop drawings and submittals, negotiates change orders, secures timely approvals, oversees compliance with bid documents and design intent, and signs off on final documents prior to your starting to manufacture signs. (Important: Do not begin manu-

facturing unless the person with final responsibility has signed off on all required documents.) If the job requires it, both teams may become part of a larger taskforce—including the general contractor, architect and/ or designer, other service vendors, etc.— to fully coordinate a large-scale project. In that case, all task force members are responsible for making sure their company completes its role on time and within budget, guaranteeing that approvals are not delayed, change orders are clear and timely, and each element has signed approval from the pre-designated person prior to action being taken. Why All the Players? A project like this cannot rest on one person’s shoulders. Details are crucial. Each person on the team becomes the filter for the next—checking, reminding, recognizing a problem, finding a missing piece, catching a mistake, seeing a new

Additional Considerations A wayfinding project could involve hundreds—or even thousands—of signs, depending upon the size of the facility or job. Special consideration must be given to each sign that falls under the requirements of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), the National Fire Protection Agency (NFPA), the International Building Code (IBC), the American National Signage Institute (ANSI), and other regulations. Certain facilities, like hospitals,

advantage or a better approach, etc. There are six basic phases to a wayfinding signage project, shared by the participants: 1. Discovery: Gather significant data,

also have to deal with categoryrelated requirements. You likely already are doing this for other jobs in your community. The applicable requirements must be met for the client to get a Certificate of Occupancy (CO) before they can open the facility. There are plenty of resources you can turn to if you need more help to determine what is needed: professional sign associations, government departments, and your supplier(s).

do a plan review, and walk- or drive-thru survey. Support all relevant data with photos. Determine the message schedule, location maps, decision points, mounting situations, viewing distances/


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4over. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . C3


Johnson Plastics . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 19


TRC Electronics. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 21


Adams Magnetics . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 72


Johnson Plastics. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 55


Trotec Laser . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 38


AdamsTech. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 41


LIGHTFAIR International . . . . . . . . . . . 70


USSC. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 52


Altec Industries Inc. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 13


LMT Onsrud. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 36


USSC. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 53


ARK Ramos Mfg Company . . . . . . . . . 75


Louis Striar. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 23


Vantage LED. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 40


Biesse America. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 32


Magnum Magnetics Corp. . . . . . . . . . 64


Vantage LED. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 40A


Brooklyn Hardware . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 75


Marabu. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 26


Wilkie Mfg. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 25


Canon . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . C2


Master Magnetics . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 50


YJ Inc. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 5


Clarke Systems. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 43


Multicam Inc.. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 15


Clarke Systems. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 45


Mutoh America. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 58


Clarke Systems. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 47


Nova Polymers . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Flap A


Coastal Enterprises. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 65


Orafol. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 16A-B


Altec. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 15


DUNA-USA Inc. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 7


Orbus. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .51


AXYZ International. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 15


Duxbury Systems Inc. . . . . . . . . . . . . . 75


Orbus. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .75


Canon . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 12


Echod Graphics . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 75


Orbus. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .75


E.L. Hatton Sales Co.. . . . . . . . . . . . . . 12


Elliott Equipment . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 44


Ornamental Post Panel & Traffic.. . . . . 75


Gemini Letters & Logos. . . . . . . . . . . . 12


FASI. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 49


OSRAM. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 33

Fastenation Inc . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 26


Outwater Plastics. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 17


Hendrick Manufacturing. . . . . . . . . . . 14

19 20

FASTSIGNS. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1

Principal LED.. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 39


ikeGPS . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 16



Fisher Textiles. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 73


RDH Supply. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 59


Gallery Digital Signage. . . . . . . . . . . . 14


Reach-All Platforms CraneMate . . . . 57


Gemini Letters & Logos. . . . . . . . . . . . 37



Global Lux. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 11


Gyford Productions . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 48


Hendrick Manufacturing. . . . . . . . . . . 66


Ideal Stitcher Company . . . . . . . . . . . 69


J Freeman Inc. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 23

InfoDirect #



International Light Technologies. . . . 12


Kett Tool Co. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 17

Safety Speed Mfg. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 74


Keystone Technologies . . . . . . . . . . . . 14


ShopBot. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 68


Roland DGA. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 12


Sign Bracket Store. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 16


Trade Group, The. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 17

54 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . C4


Trotec Laser, Inc.. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 16


Sinalite. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 40B


Southern Stud Weld . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 74




Sign Builder Illustrated

April 2017

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obstructions, and room numbering. 2. Design Concept: Define solutions based on the findings. Develop design approaches, recommend materials, and consider budget concerns and regulatory impact. 3. Final Design Approvals: Sign samples are provided, prototypes are tested, designs are approved, and the final budget and timeline are set. Room numbers are also confirmed. Sign schedule and mapping sign-offs are completed. 4. Production and Installation: Written approvals are obtained, deliveries and installation are coordinated by taskforce and internal team, production is begun, temporary signs are provided as needed, and signs are installed on a predetermined schedule. 5. Review and Report: Installed signs are inspected on walk-thru, punch list review is completed, project is assessed, necessary corrections are made, and a summary is provided. 6. Sign Standards: Sign Guide is

completed containing confirmed standards to be used by the client to maintain the continuity and look of the system for future changes or additions. The Guide includes product literature and warran-

a wayfinding project cannot rest on one person’s shoulders. Details are very crucial. tees, the Sign Design manual, message schedule, location map, templates, and directions for the re-ordering and internal permissions processes.

How Did Your Team Perform? Just like any other team, it is important to review your results. How did your team perform? Did having your vendor on your team help or, if you didn’t have outside help, would it have been beneficial if you had? Did you win new fans for your business, including the buyer and other service providers on the task force? Will they recommend you for further work? Have you elevated your company’s image to improve your competitive advantage? Once you have answered these questions, go celebrate your success and show pride in your team! Charles J. Kelly, Jr., is president of Clarke Systems (, specialists in architectural signage and wayfinding. As a wholesale provider to the sign trade for forty years, Clarke Systems supports clients large and small who have more work than their shops can handle and don’t want to turn away a new opportunity.

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HDU/Foam CNC ROUTER By Ashley Bray Brad Burnett

the final word on



igh-density urethane (HDU) is a great material for creating carved, lighter weight dimensional signs. However carving is only half the job; the other half is decorating and finishing the material.

Know Your Products Painting is the most common way to decorate an HDU sign, and shops have a variety of coatings to choose from— 62

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including everything from acrylic to oilbased and even specialty finishes. “Most types of HDU are compatible with almost any type of primer, coating, or paint,” says Brad Burnett, HDU sales representative at DUNA-USA. “These can include hard coats, faux metal finishes, and even customized patinas.” But the process isn’t as easy as brushing or spraying some paint onto HDU. In fact, Mike Szczoczarz, owner of

Countryside Signs in Seekonk, Massachusetts, says the most important thing before getting started is to know your products. “You have to know the products before you can do anything correctly,” he says. “If you have failures, a lot of it is self-inflicted. “People want to blame the material or the paint, but most things are self-inflicted because you haven’t paid attention or you haven’t learned the material.”

All Photos: DUNA-USA.


Everything you need to know to successfully prime and paint HDU.

Szczoczarz recommends contacting your HDU manufacturer for samples and then experimenting with those samples and the different methods of painting. “It’s a matter of knowing how to handle the different types of paint and your end use,” he says. Keep Things Clean It’s critical to know that end use or intended final result before starting, since it will impact the steps and the process you take to get there. No matter what type of result you’re going for, the HDU must be cleaned. It’s important to keep it clean from the start, since it’s a porous material and dirt and contaminants can easily become trapped in the material. “Keep the HDU clean from grease, oils, and contaminants because you can’t really wash the grease or contamination off of HDU very easily,” says David Bly, technical manager at AkzoNobel. From there, it’s important to get any debris from routing and carving off of the material. “The best method is to use an air nozzle and ensure that all dust and debris have been removed prior to finishing,” says Burnett. Applying Primer Once the material is clean, primer is applied next. Not all projects require primer—this is where knowing the final result becomes important. If your sign’s finish doesn’t need to be smooth and will have brushstrokes to achieve an effect like wood grain, then priming the substrate isn’t a necessary step. However if you’re looking to achieve a very smooth finish, then primer is a necessity, in order to fill the porous surface of HDU and give you something to sand down. Bly says two to three coats of primer are typically necessary, but it depends on the weight of the HDU. “In general, going up in density will almost always result in reduced labor for priming and painting,” says Burnett. This is because a higher density HDU has smaller, more tightly packed cells and

less pores. A lighter weight HDU is more porous and will take more primer to fill. To apply primer, Bly strongly recommends using a roller versus spraying. “If you’re trying to spray it with a spray application, you have to, in effect, flood the primer on until it floods into the pores,” he says, noting that 20 to 30 percent of the primer is lost when using a spray gun because it blows out into the air. “With a roller, you’re at a hundred percent of what they call ‘transfer efficiency.’ “So all the primer you use, you’re 100 percent transferring it onto the surface with a roller, and you’re pushing it into

ing, the HDU should be allowed to dry overnight at room temperature, which is 65° to 70°F. It can then be sanded to a smooth finish. Be sure to blow or dust off any resulting dust and debris before beginning the painting process. Brush or Spray Gun? Depending on your intended finish, paint can be brushed or sprayed on. Spraying on the paint will lead to a smoother, high-quality finish. Brushes can also be used for smooth finishes in addition to effects, as mentioned above.

You have to know the products before you can do anything correctly. know how to handle the different types of paint and your end use. the pores instead of trying to flood it into the pores.” Overall rolling on the primer leads to a more consistent application, cost savings, and environmental benefits, since the emissions and waste are much less (if not eliminated entirely). Once you’ve completed the prim-

If using brushes, Szczoczarz recommends consulting the manufacturer’s recommendations for how to brush on the paint and which brushes to use. As a rule, higher-end brushes will give you a smoother finish. “Use the best ones that you can afford and take good care of them,” he says.

Know the intended finish of your sign before you start.

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and color-matching options. However it’s recommended to spray these paints, so sign shops will need to be set up with the capabilities to spray (spray equipment, a dedicated area to spray, etc.). Because of the automotive-like finish, the signs can even be washed just like a car, which further extends their life. Matthews Paint, AkzoNobel, and Sherwin-Williams all offer acrylic polyurethane paints.

Use brushstrokes to achieve certain effects on your finish.

What Paint to Use? As for which paint to use, the choice is again related to the intended result. Szczoczarz goes over the three main types of paints sign shops use:

2. Latex. These water-based paints provide a much more versatile method for sign makers who are entry level or don’t have spray capabilities. The paints provide good color retention and can be brushed or rolled on. However sign makers have less time to work the paint. “Latex can be tricky to master,” ex1. Acrylic Polyurethanes. These types of paints provide a high-quality, plains Szczoczarz. “You don’t want to overwork the paint, because it starts to automotive finish. They are the most durable and offer set quickly. Difference in Printable nce the Magnum Mayou “As the surface is drying, the greatest longevity, Ecolor xperieretention, gnetactu-

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April 2017

ally may be picking up what was starting to stick. So you don’t want to let that happen, becaus that can lead to some failure.” Szczoczarz recommends putting this paint on in heavy strokes with only two or three strokes. These types of paints include house paints like Benjamin Moore and California Paints, and they come in a wide range of prices and quality levels. As with brushes, Szczoczarz recommends using the highest quality paint you can afford. “You can’t use a cheap paint and expect it to do what the best paint will do,” says Szczoczarz. “The thing is, with the lesser grades, you’re not going to get good coverage, so you’re going to be painting more. You’re not going to get good color retention.” 3. Oil-based. Oil-based sign enamels, like 1-Shot and T.J. Ronan Paint Corp., offer a long-lasting, high-gloss finish.

Most HDU is compatible with almost any primer, coating, or paint.

The paint can be applied using brushes or high-quality foam rollers. Since the paint takes longer to set, sign makers can continue to roll or brush it on for up to five to ten minutes.

Ask for Advice There are many finishes and effects possible when painting HDU. If you still have questions, contact your paint or HDU supplier for direction.

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Sign makers have a plethora of paints to choose from, and automotive-grade coatings are being used in more and more shops. Automotive coatings are similar to industrial-grade sign paints in both mixing and application, although cure speeds can be shortened, and they combine color with protection. “We have combined the best of clear coat properties and the color of basecoat properties to provide a single stage where protection and color are delivered in one coating,” says Scott Crosley, global industry director, general industrial products and programs at Sherwin-Williams Product Finishes. The coatings are ideal to use on poles, sign cabinets, LED faces, and more. With the proper primer, they can even be used to coat aluminum, polycarbonate, cold-rolled steel, and stainless steel. “Some primers are

designed only for certain substrates, so pay close attention to your supplier’s recommendation and the technical data sheet,” recommends Crosley. Above all, automotive coatings were designed with three things in mind: color, durability, and the finishing process. Color. Automotive coatings have a vast color space, which is the type and number of colors originating from the combinations of color components of a color model. “Many vibrant and durable reds, yellows, and oranges are possible,” says Crosley, “basically all of the pigments needed to match today’s corporate color schemes and house paint colors, but in a ultra-durable two-component (2K) paint technology. Solids, metallic, pearls, micas, or even Xirallic pigments have found their way into premium sign

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April 2017

coatings.” (Note: 2K paint technology refers to the process of mixing the coating with an activator/catalyst.) “Color formula retrieval today is digitized and at your fingertips, so searching, sorting, and filtering colors ultimately helps improve cycle time, productivity, and profit,” says Crosley. Shops can opt to order from a local supplier’s facility, or if they’re a high-volume company, they can invest in equipment to mix the paint themselves. Those shops mixing in-house should be aware that there is a shelf life to the paint once the coating and activator are mixed. “High-volume shops should investigate plural mixing equipment to reduce waste and cost,” says Crosley. Durability. Automotive coatings have to pass stringent durability requirements set forth by OEMs, and they stand up to wind, sun, rain, and salt. “High levels of chemical and corrosion resistance were designed into them,” says Crosley. Finishing. The paints cure at room temperature, but sign shops can also introduce a bake to speed up the curing process. Shops should consider the range of coating solutions available to choose the one that best fits their current project.

Photo: Sherwin-Williams Product Finishes.

A “Primer” on Automotive Coatings

design By brooke Albring

Photo: Designer Brooke Albring; Toledo Sign Co.; Management, Penn National Gaming.


Increase sales through your design department.

dividends A

re you one of the many sign companies that focus heavily on your sales department when it comes to generating more money? Do you believe your sales staff is the main reason your projects close? If so, consider the possibility that you might be overlooking other key money makers in your company. There’s no doubt about it—sales departments play an important role in our sign companies. They are lead generators—the first and last impressions clients get of your company, the point of contact between customers and businesses, and the ones who make potential buyers feel warm and fuzzy about their decisions.

While there’s no doubt that these dynamic individuals are clearly crucial to all sign companies and their success, I believe good design has just as much influence over your revenue, if not more. Good Design Sells Itself In most sign industry scenarios, a sales person cannot make a sale without a mock-up of the sign. It doesn’t matter how fair your pricing is or how friendly your staff is—sales will not happen if each mock-up doesn’t appeal to the tastes of each target customer. A strong designer will interpret an array of words, pictures, and ideas into a concept that is visually pleasing for all

to see but still be distinct enough for the purchaser’s preferences to buy. Almost instantly, a good visual will develop an emotional response from the buyer without the help of any person or pitch. That emotion is what keeps them on board, excited, and returning to you. It also, when paired with the right dollar amount, is what gets them to say yes! Speaking of the Right Dollar Amount Design has the power to open your customers up to a larger budget than they had previously planned. Of course, this doesn’t apply to every project that comes to your attention. However you’d be surprised what cusApril 2017

Sign Builder Illustrated


it’s usually the least appealing. Our brain evaluates beauty by looking at many features and their relationship to other objects, space, colors, and placement. Strong designers have an innate ability to maneuver objects into an order that creates a sense of balance that customers did not originally consider. Concept One is the baseline that, when compared to the Second Concept, makes it obvious that the customer may have overlooked some essential components.

tomers will spend to have something that blows them away. This is upselling, and strong designers can do this more easily than many sales people can through their concepts. How does it work? Usually your customer has an idea of what they’re looking for. During early conversations with a salesperson, they share their criteria. The next step is the delivery of this

criteria to your designer who then creates several concepts. Savvy designers use this opportunity to upsell. Try the Three Concept approach here: First Concept: This concept is exactly what the customer, and or sales, have instructed the designer to develop. This rendering is the closest to the customer’s request that the designer can come, and

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Sign Builder Illustrated

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April 2017

Second Concept: This concept alters the First Concept to play with the human brain correctly. This may require adjusting the customer’s logo, changing/adding colors outside of their branding, adjusting the shape of the sign, and many more tweaks to develop a good-looking sign. This is where design can gently play with adding more expensive materials, lighting, and dimensions. Through Concept Two, you usually quicken the overall process by cutting the revision stage under consideration in Concept One. Third Concept: This concept is where your designer should take all creative control of the project and interject something that makes your customer say, “Wow!” This new concept still maintains some integrity to the brand but pushes the customer into a whole new level of thinking. Generally this is the most expensive concept to fabricate, but it is usually the concept that gains the biggest emotional response. Concept Three allows your conceptual designer to do what they do best and gives your customer a reason to spend more money. Good Design Drives More Business In a variety of ways, good design cultivates more business on its own. Whether it’s an impressed customer referral, a pleased returning customer, beautiful designs on your company Web site, traffic passing by a fabricated sign, winning an award, getting featured in a magazine, or other ways to get attention, good design will get your company noticed and continue to drive leads to your doorstep for years to come. This is the power of design, and the brilliance behind a strong designer.

Photo: Designer Brooke Albring; Toledo Sign Co.; Management, Penn National Gaming.

Initial chosen design concept of the Hollywood Gaming Monument.

What Does This Ultimately Mean for You? Designers sell your products with every visual they give. Your company’s concepts are not something to take lightly, so I urge you to rethink your sales strategy and create some opportunities for growth in your design department. Consider giving your designers more time to further develop projects, to add those finishing touches, and to really brainstorm those conceptual ideas. Be upfront with your customers on the deadlines and don’t promise concepts to them so quickly if you want your designers to work their magic. Invest more energy by educating your designers and celebrating their creative and wacky ways of thinking. Be proactive in understanding how to avoid factors that deplete creatives’ drive and fluency of ideas. Never underestimate the potential

Good design cultivates more business on its own.

that excellent designers have for increasing your company’s bottom line. Choose them with the goal of hiring the best talent during your search. You need to have talent you can trust and whose ability to appeal to your clients speaks for itself. Invest more money by incentivizing, creating a bonus plan, or paying more for good talent. Good design isn’t

cheap, but the results from it will astonish you. And you’ll certainly end up with more money in your pocket. Brooke Albring has over ten years of conceptual design experience. She is CEO of BA Innovative, a design firm in St. Petersburg, Florida. For more information, visit or contact her at

Photo: Designer Brooke Albring; Oakhurst Signs; Client, Finlay Management.

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lexibility is a hallmark of display banners, and it’s one of the reasons why the soft signage medium is incorporated into almost every on-site marketing campaign today. There are endless possibilities when it comes to designing and printing on fabric, and the range of soft materials available allows for a flexible palette of options to choose from. Consider hanging fabric banners, for example. These can be used on tables, hung on a wall, or mounted on poles.

Fabrics bring diversity and dimension to signage.

The versatility of this size allows for single- or double-sided banners, using sheer or opaque fabric. Table coverings are the easiest to carry and display, as they simply drape over the table with the design and/or logo facing passers-by. This is a convenient, yet elegant, way to do some “branding on the run.� Soft Signage: Materials Like the banner options for table coverings, polyester banners are easily

maintained and can be machine-washed and dried. In addition to polyester, fabrics used for banners also include mesh and canvas. Mesh is often used for outdoor, windy environments, and canvas can be employed for a rich background effect, particularly with dye sublimation. One hundred percent polyester woven fabric is a durable material that makes for a viable substitute for canvas but with the print performance of vinyl. With so many fabric options to April 2017

Sign Builder Illustrated


Fabrics have been used for projects ranging from theatrical backdrops, retail and P-O-P banners, roll-up banner display stands, theme park attractions, sporting event and concert venues, tradeshow exhibits, stretch frame systems, and outdoor banners and backdrops.) Also when comparing fabrics for use indoors versus outdoors, pay attention to their durability and water- and wind-resistance. In fact, when sorting out the many fabric choices available for your shop, consider consulting first with a fabrics supplier—preferably one that offers a range of choices specifically geared towards displays.

choose from, it’s important to look for fabrics that offer performance based on the specific end use. “For example, the fabric should have a consistent white point to offer the most brilliant graphic when printed, and you

shouldn’t have to constantly re-profile,” says Mike Compton, product manager at supplier Top Value Fabrics (tvfmedia. com). “You want fabric that is properly rolled for printing and loading.” (Note: Banner fabrics from Top Value

Soft Signage: Printing When printing onto fabric banner materials, there are several ink processes that can be utilized. Dye sublimation heat transfer, which is done on polyester, is the top choice among most designers and printers today.

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April 2017

Depending on the banner size, Minimal text and bold, streamlined graphics should be chosen for the content. If a fabric banner requires strong images and colors that must stand out in a large setting, dye sublimation is the preferred method. And unlike vinyl, there is no glare with this elegant format. With the appropriate fabric that has a protective, scratch-resistant coating, latex printing is also on the rise. Compton adds that fabrics are primarily printed with environmentally friendly, water-based dye sublimation and latex inks, which eliminates the need to use solvent inks. And many of the company’s fabrics are recyclable to boot. “In addition, the heightened flexibility of UV inks cured with LED lamps have increased capabilities for printing graphics on certain fabrics using a UV printing process,” says Jaime Herand, vice president of Graphics at wholesale provider Orbus Exhibit & Display Group (

loop with a bar may be installed to add weight, which will stabilize and stretch the fabric.” Two particular fabrics in soft signage and promotional applications are silicone edge graphics (SEG) and pillow-

case graphics. Silicone edge graphics are printed fabric graphics coupled with extrusionbased display hardware. “The extrusion-based frames or perimeter channel bars that hold them

Soft Signage: Installation After putting the final touches on a banner, which can be accomplished by hemming the edges, grommets can be added to stretch the banner, which will allow it to hang from a height or be surface-mounted. The banner can also be mounted between poles or by attaching it to festival fencing or other event structures. “Banner fabrics can also be sewn with pole loops using an inserted bar to suspend it from guide wires,” says Compton. “Depending on the size and weight of the graphic, a bottom

April 2017

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provide a seamless appearance for impressive messaging,” says Herand. “These graphics feature silicone edge beading attached to the edges of the printed graphic, enabling it to push easily into an extrusion channel for a seamless appearance to the graphic.” SEG graphics are perfect for use with backlit LED-illuminated and non-illuminated dye-sublimated fabric graphics. “These types of displays are used in retail environments as wall/standing displays and in tradeshow displays,” says Herand. Meanwhile pillowcase fabric graphics are dye-sublimated fabric graphics that slide over aluminum tube frames and are then zip-closed for a seamless, taut appearance. A benefit of pillowcase fabric graphics is that large-scale, impactful fabric structures of the utmost quality and durability can be created using this method. “The hardware/tube frames used with pillowcase fabric graphics are also very lightweight and easy to assemble,” says Herand. “The versatility and ease of application make them great for exhibits and displays, small to large in size, as well as for semi-permanent or permanent retail or branded environment installations, or for use at events and tradeshows.” Soft Signage: Design When planning for a banner display, it’s important to consider the content. Minimal text is key along with bold, yet streamlined, graphics, depending on the banner size. For indoor banners, the first consideration is the display mode. Will the banner will hang from a height in midair or drape against a wall? A large hanging banner that sits above the flow of traffic might make a central eye-catching display, whereas a vertically hung banner will create a dramatic, streamlined effect, highlighting the content, material, and flow of the fabric. A horizontally oriented fabric banner, which is popular at sporting venues and universities, might have more text and focus less on the fabric and more on the “splash” of the message and the grandiosity of the banner size. —Additional reporting provided by Jeff Wooten.


Sign Builder Illustrated

April 2017

Marketplace For Advertising Options contact: JEFF SUTLEY (212) 620-7233 HEATHER BONATO (212) 620-7225








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3/15/17 12:27 PM

April 2017

Sign Builder Illustrated


Shop Talk

By Ashley Bray

The “Whole” Job

A wholesaler expands the capabilities of sign shops.


ometimes sign shops need a little help to get the job done, but in outsourcing a process or part of a sign project, they don’t want to sacrifice quality. Wholesaler ImageFirst (imagefirstsigns. com) knows this sentiment well. “It’s key in this industry to have quality-built product,” says President Michael McKeag. Operating out of a 30,000-squarefoot facility with twenty-five employees, ImageFirst prides themselves on their creative and quality-built products. The wholesaler specializes in exterior architectural and commercial signage, including custom electric signage, aluminum, fiberglass, and dimensional letters and logos. As a wholesaler, ImageFirst finds that sign shops typically come to them to handle a process that they don’t have in-house. “We help our customers sell a competency that they don’t have to have under their own roof,” explains McK-

eag. “They can look to a reliable, quality wholesaler that will back them up and basically be another factory for them.” For other sign shops, the issue isn’t capability—it’s capacity. Large sign companies may outsell their capacity and need to spill over some of the procurement responsibilities to a wholesaler to make a deadline or get the job done. ImageFirst handles everything from design to fabrication and is able to take on one part of a sign or the entire job. In addition, they can handle packing up and shipping a sign, if needed. Once the customer has signed off on a job, it typically takes three to five weeks to finish a project. However ImageFirst does have flexibility for quick turnaround situations. The wholesaler is also big on educating both its employees and its sign company clients. On the employee side, ImageFirst focuses on cross-training. All production workers have spent time in every depart-

Sign Builder Illustrated (Print ISSN 895-0555, Digital ISSN 2161-4709) (USPS#0015805) (Canada Post Cust. #7204564; Agreement #40612608; IMEX Po Box 25542, London, ON N6C 6B2, Canada) is published monthly by Simmons-Boardman Publ. Corp, 55 Broad St. 26th Floor, New York, NY 10004. Printed in the U.S.A. Periodicals postage paid at New York, NY and Additional mailing offices.

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Sign Builder Illustrated

April 2017

COPYRIGHT © Simmons-Boardman Publishing Corporation 2017. All rights reserved. Contents may not be reproduced without permission. For reprint information, contact: Arthur Sutley, Publisher (212) 620-7247 or

ment. “Cross-education across the whole platform has helped our company grow in the last five to six years,” says McKeag. On the client end, ImageFirst provides detailed production drawings that help a customer understand how a sign will be built, what it’s made of, how to access any electrical in the future, and if necessary, how to articulate and communicate installation outsourcing needs. In addition, ImageFirst often serves a consultative role, and sign shops will contact them prior to starting a design for advice on things like material limitations. “We can help push them down the right path to a better, more cost-effective, and quality product,” says McKeag. Their experience with materials comes from working with architects and designers who need high-quality built exterior signage that fits into a specific environment. This often leads to working with odd or out-of-the-ordinary materials in order to mimic or match a part of the built environment. The work has not only taught ImageFirst about the constraints and parameters of certain materials, but also how to communicate and educate clients on how those materials relate to factors like price and longevity on a job. “We pride ourselves on being open, honest, and legitimate with our potential customer,” says McKeag.

We help our customers sell a competency that they don’t have to have under their own roof.

POSTMASTER: Send address changes to Sign Builder Illustrated, PO Box 3135, Northbrook , IL 60062-3135. 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.

Photo: ImageFirst.


April 2017 Sign Builder Illustrated  

This issue features stories on wraps, business management, awnings, identity signs, pylon signs, HDU, paint, wayfinding, design, fabrics, an...

April 2017 Sign Builder Illustrated  

This issue features stories on wraps, business management, awnings, identity signs, pylon signs, HDU, paint, wayfinding, design, fabrics, an...