THE HOW-TO MAGAZINE
D E C E M B E R 2021 | S I G N S H O P.CO M
HDU FOAM: A SWEET SCULPTED PROJECT
EXPLORING THE INDOOR MARKET
CONTENTS DECEMBER 2021
PLANS OF ACTION
By Jim Hingst Setting profit-generating goals for your business.
NEC 2023 PREVIEW
By David Hickey Spotlighting some key upcoming issues with the next National Electric Code.
Cover Photo: Humble Sign Company.
10 34 36
Stories about staffing shortages abound, but Editor Jeff Wooten details why employee retention should not be overlooked in your workplace.
IN THE INDUSTRY
Bridging the gap on an innovative art installation, the winner of the 2021 Watchfire Sign Awards, and sculpting a 3D kraken.
The newest products and services from sign manufacturers.
Advertisements and announcements from the sign trade.
Jim Hingst relays how getting strong-willed team members on the same page is akin to herding cats.
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THE SPECS BEHIND SPEC’S
By Jeff Wooten Hare’s the story behind the redesign for a pole sign.
REBRANDING A BANK
By Ashley Bray A sign company deposits value into a local bank branch.
By Maura Keller Scooping up an architectural enhancement design.
By Ashley Bray The case for the indoor digital sign market.
Sign Builder Illustrated
December 2021, Vol. 35, No. 317 Sign Builder Illustrated (ISSN 0895-0555) print, (ISSN 2161-0709) digital is published by Simmons-Boardman Publishing Corporation
President and Chairman Arthur J. McGinnis, Jr. Group Publisher Gary Lynch 88 Pine Street, 23rd Floor, New York, NY 10005 Office: 212-620-7247; Cell 646-637-5206
Editor Jeff Wooten 323 Clifton Street, Suite #7, Greenville, NC 27858 212-620-7244 firstname.lastname@example.org Managing Editor Ashley Bray 212-620-7220 email@example.com Contributing Writers David Hickey, Jim Hingst, Maura Keller
Art Director Nicole D’Antona Graphic Designer Hillary Coleman
Corporate Production Director Mary Conyers
Circulation Director Maureen Cooney firstname.lastname@example.org
ADVERTISING SALES Sales Manager David Harkey 212-620-7223 email@example.com
Sign Builder Illustrated is published monthly. All rights reserved. Nothing herein may be reproduced in whole or in part without written permission of the publisher. To purchase PDF files of cover and layouts or hard copy reprints, please call Gary Lynch at 212-620-7247 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
Sign Builder Illustrated
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BY JEFF WOOTEN
Note: Due to COVID-19 concerns, all events listed below are subject to change. Please check each show’s Web site for any cancellations or reschedulings that may have taken place after press time.
FEBRUARY 2022 FEBRUARY 14-15:
The Inkjet Innovation Academy featuring in-person learning and networking will be taking place at The Florida Hotel & Conference Center in Orlando, Florida. (imiconf.com)
Workforce retention should not be overlooked.
Sign Builder Illustrated
for a new sign cabinet atop a pole sign at a Spec’s Wine, Spirits & Finer Foods in Texas (“The Specs Behind Spec’s,” page 20). He mentioned that his business’s foundation is built on recruiting, retaining, and motivating great employees. Cantrell says to succeed creatively and financially as a company, they always look for a good attitude amongst their employees. “The biggest thing is that we just don’t allow bad attitudes into our culture,” he said. “A lot of companies will have that one sour-attitude employee that feels they are too valuable to be replaced and maybe they’re too experienced or whatever and brings everyone down around them. “So we just don’t allow that to happen here. We all work as a team.” Meanwhile, in this month’s “Shop Talk” (“Coaching Your Employees,” page 36), Jim Hingst advises, “Coaching your employees as they participate in achieving goals is not a part-time activity. To be an effective coach, you need work on it daily.” It’s important that the people you have at your shop not fall victim to feeling their career has stagnated. It’s not unreasonable to think employee management takes as much effort as production. It all makes me think “retaining” could be a key topic to keep an eye on next year and beyond.
JEFF WOOTEN Editor, firstname.lastname@example.org
MAY 2022 MAY 4-6:
The ISA International Sign Expo 2022 is scheduled to take place in Atlanta, Georgia. Registration for the event will start this fall. (signexpo.org)
JULY 2022 JULY 27-30:
SignConnexion 2022, the MidSouth Sign Association’s annual tradeshow, will be happening in Chattanooga, Tennessee. (midsouthsign.org) Photo: Shutterstock/ Vitalii Vodolazskyi.
ere in the midst of the holiday season, I’ve been noticing a glut of story pitches highlighting the staffing shortage crisis that’s going on nationwide with an emphasis on advice for filling job openings—pivoting toward a hybrid model (home-and-work combination), increasing starting pay, getting creative with perks, etc. It’s safe to say that running a business today requires a more evolved effort on the part of owners and managers. It’s no longer just placing an advertisement for resumes. The hiring process is much more expanded and much more proactive—analyzing LinkedIn profiles, promoting via social media, producing short videos to share on platforms, etc. In the sign industry this past October, sixty-one sign and graphics companies took part in the National Association of Manufacturers and International Sign Association’s annual Sign Manufacturing Day, showing students the different career opportunities in the industry. While hiring is an important topic, I feel there’s one key component that shouldn’t be overlooked—retaining employees who are instrumental in making your company profitable. And owners and managers today have to be just as proactive in cultivating this workplace culture and making sure these employees feel valued. I recently spoke with Collin Cantrell, vice president of operations for Humble Sign Company, about his company’s work on the logo redesign they came up with
Digital Signage Expo, presented by Questex, is bringing Digital Signage and Digital-Out-Of-Home buyers and sellers to the Las Vegas Convention Center in Las Vegas, Nevada. This returning event will be taking place concurrently with the Bar & Restaurant Expo. (questex.com)
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IN THE INDUSTRY
BRIDGING THE GAP
ON INNOVATIVE ART INSTALLATION
ichmond, British Columbia— Sometimes a lot of colorful, lively graphics are just what is needed to spruce up appearances. For example, full-service graphics production and installation company Premier Graphics recently used a range of films and laminates from Drytac that were supplied by ND Graphics to produce and install a series of stunning and colorful graphics for an innovative project at the Cambie Street Bridge in Vancouver. The project brought to life a vision by artist Jessica Angel, who came up with the clever idea of mixing colorful graph-
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ics with augmented reality (AR) to “extend” the Cambie Street Bridge into a 19,000-square-foot public art installation for the Vancouver Biennale exhibition. Installed this past June, Angel’s design featured a huge, two-dimensional vinyl mural that wrapped the pedestrian walkway, supporting columns, and underside of the bridge, turning what is usually a relatively dull structure into an eye-catching piece of art. However AR technology took this a step further, with passers-by encouraged to download the Vancouver Biennale app for free and hold up their phone using it while walking through
the walkway. Doing this opened up a whole new dimension, transforming parts of the installation. As a long-term Drytac customer (having used their films for many years), Premier Graphics chose to work with the adhesive science expert’s materials throughout this project. The company selected Drytac Polar Grip white polymeric self-adhesive film for the printed film parts of the installation, while they decided to use Drytac Interlam Pro Emerytex PVC overlaminating film for the floor graphics and Drytac Interlam Pro Matte pressure sensitive overlaminating film for the pilsignshop.com
2021 WATCHFIRE SIGN AWARDS WINNER
lars and ceiling. All the graphics for the Cambie Street Bridge project were printed out using the company’s HP Latex R1000 Plus. “The process consisted of the testing of many materials and, of course balancing a budget that was already stretched thin,” said Taylor Sellinger, partner and general manager of Premier Graphics. “We needed to fit the client’s budget with a material that was likely to last eighteen to twenty-four months and meet the slip-resistance requirements for the safety of the public.” Sellinger said that since the majority of this installation surface was relatively signshop.com
flat, Premier Graphics didn’t require a cast film to conform for this project. “But the nature of the adhesive on the Polar Grip film made it an ideal choice for great adhesion to a rough and unfinished concrete,” he said. Regarding this innovative art installation project itself, Sellinger concluded, “The virtual reality experience that was developed for it is amazing when paired with the graphics. It’s certainly the most impressive piece I’ve been involved with so far.”
ANVILLE, ILLINOIS— Landmark Sign Group in Chesterton, Indiana, has been recognized for their contributions to the sign industry by Watchfire Signs. Their recent work for The Dean and Barbara White Community Center in Merrillville, Indiana, earned them the Grand Prize in the seventh annual 2021 Watchfire LED Sign Awards. The sign provides a timely way to list the variety of events at the community center. Watchfire Signs established the awards program in 2014 to recognize Watchfire dealer partners who best showcase the capabilities of outdoor digital advertising. The awards recognize on-premise signs installed in 2021 that display excellence in design, legibility of digital messages, and advertising effectiveness. The winning sign is a double-face custom pylon featuring a Watchfire 10mm display with a wireless communication connection. The sign also has one-inch-deep pushthrough copy and a channel logo. “Every year...our dealer partners continue to produce high-quality digital sign installations. We are proud to recognize our partners who promote the strengths of digital advertising,” said David Warns, Watchfire’s vice president of On-Premise Sales. “Congratulations to Landmark Sign Group and all of this year’s winners.”
For a complete list of winners, visit watchfiresigns.com/signawards.
Note: To watch a video of this project, visit https://bit.ly/3mGMDGC. December 2021 Sign Builder Illustrated
IN THE INDUSTRY FIELD OF HONOR INSTALLED
A 3D KRAKEN
TERLING, VIRGINIA—When the National Hockey League’s Vegas Golden Knights hosted the Seattle Kraken at the T-Mobile Arena, the VGK Entertainment, Experience and Production Team wanted to ensure it was a larger-than-life experience. Not only did this event make history as the newest rivalry in the NHL, but the opening night match was also each team’s first televised ESPN event. The goal was to take the teams to new heights by making an international splash on broadcast television. Andrew Abrams, senior executive producer of Production & Venue Technology at VGK EEP, led a team of ten people to envision the perfect pre-game opener. As the newest and second-newest teams in the NHL, the anticipation of the live event was a key component in their strategy. “We knew we wanted to make the squid in the ice the big ‘wow’ moment,” stated Abrams. “After that, it was all about execution. We had an ambitious timeline, so we were going to need some help.” Abrams turned to Quince Imaging, an innovative live-experience firm headquartered in the Washington, D.C., metro area that has a twenty-five-year reputation for providing technologically awe-inspiring
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engagement solutions for live and virtual audiences worldwide. “We’ve collaborated with many professional sporting leagues, but [this year], we’ve been able to step out from the ‘collaborator’ role and move into an ‘innovator’ role,” said Eric Gazzillo, director of Innovation at Quince Imaging. “We have a [talented crew of artists, producers, animators, and experience event experts] on our team to create the full live event experience.” Zubair Parkar, art director at Quince Imaging, commended the VGK EEP team for giving creative direction. “I sculpted a 3D model of the Kraken using cinema 4D in collaboration with my team to produce animation capable of displaying a fast-paced visual that created an entire show,” he said. “The Vegas Golden Knights didn’t simply choose to play a video; they also integrated live elements, including choreography and sound cues for an exceptional effect.” Quince Imaging was able to turn this animation around in just under three weeks. “[They] made it really easy to bring our ideas and timing to life,” stated Abrams. “It’s one of the coolest projects our team has ever gotten to be a part of!”
HANDLER, ARIZONA— YESCO has fabricated and installed the Field of Honor at Veterans Oasis Park in Chandler, Arizona. The City of Chandler and YESCO unveiled the Field of Honor this past Ve t e r a n s D a y o n T h u r s d a y, November 11. The project includes a Stars And Stripes level, which was designed to match the exact ratio of the American flag. The Family Plaza overlook, an elevated plaza, replicates the simplicity of the Arizona State flag overlooking the memorial’s Stars And Stripes level. K i m l ey- H o r n d es i g n e d t h e memorial, which is approximately two acres and includes six resonant themes: freedom, recognition, reflection, sacrifice, memories, and family. Composition of the memorial included 121 total RGB LED structures of varying heights to mimic the shape of the flag. Twenty-one LED-lighted plinths are submerged entirely below earth, symbolizing a twenty-one-gun salute for soldiers who have not returned from war. “We are honored to have played a role in bringing this memorial to life,” said Jeff Young, senior vice president of YESCO. “It will provide a tranquil place for reflection on the sacrifices made by our country’s service members for years to come.”
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Are You Virtual? LexJet Opens The LexJet Experience
MUTOH America has released MS41 Orange Ink, a vibrant new color addition to its Eco-Solvent line of inks. Orange MS41 Ink significantly expands the yellow to magenta color gamut. This results in richer, more complex, and more natural skin tones, as well as vivid output of images. It has excellent adhesion and is ideal for wraps, indoor/outdoor signage, banners, window vinyl, decals, and more. MS41 Orange Ink is an available option for MUTOH’s XpertJet 1682SR printer. With the addition of orange ink, the color capabilities of this printer are widened, opening up new product opportunities for customers. MS41 Orange Ink is available in 300ml bags and is GREENGUARD Gold Certified, signifying that this product has low-emitting volatile organic compounds and is safe to use in sensitive areas such as hospitals, schools, and daycare facilities. MS41 Orange Ink has an outdoor durability of up to three years. mutoh.com
LexJet, a division of S-One Holdings Corporation, is dedicated to total convenience and personal customer service as a onestop source for inkjet printing, equipment, materials, and expertise. With this in mind, the company has debuted The LexJet Experience, an immersive virtual environment featuring over three dozen of its major partners. The LexJet Experience is a new way to receive information, as well as the personal attention that one would expect at an in-person industry tradeshow. Visitors can tour virtual booths of brands like Hahnemühle, General Formulations, EFI, HP, Canon, and more. At the same time, they get up close and personal with some of the newest equipment available on the market. LexJet specialists are also on hand to answer questions. Guests can explore the virtual experience anytime, and as LexJet adds new products and partners, the virtual floor space will grow. marketing.lexjet.com/lexjet-experience-registration
LASER ENGRAVERS Best of Both Worlds: Rayjet R400 is Simple to Use and Produces Sophisticated, Precise Designs The R400 laser cutting and engraving machine from Rayjet Laser, a division of Trotec Laser, is the latest addition to the R Series product line and features an ergonomic working area, sophisticated and intuitive workflow software, and the industry's highest safety standards—providing the industry with a reliable, user-friendly, cost-effective, and locally supported solution for cutting and engraving a broad range of materials. Designed to comply with stringent production standards and European manufacturing and design principles, the R400 joins the R500 as the only laser safety Class 2 systems in their price range—meaning that R Series lasers meet U.S. manufacturing safety requirements for use in public spaces and do not require operators to wear protective gear such as safety goggles. The R400 system features an open, ergonomic design with a 40.5-by24.8-inch bed size that fits most standard material sheet sizes and up to 100 Watts DC of laser power, allowing you to easily and efficiently cut and engrave a wide range of materials (such as plastics, paper, textiles, acrylics, wood, and many more). The included Rayjet Manager workflow software provides easy, step-by-step instructions with logical and intuitive functions, permitting you to make a fast transition from job layout to final product. rayjetlaser.com/en-us; engraversnetwork.com
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SIGN SHOW FINISHING
PrintFactory Software Now Tailored for Kongsberg PCS Cutting Tables Kongsberg Precision Cutting Systems (Kongsberg PCS) has announced a new partnership agreement with PrintFactory that involves an integrated production suite comprising workflow software that handles repetitive tasks to increase production speed for the print and finishing industry that is specifically tailored for innovative Kongsberg cutting tables. With the Editor tool, fonts, color corrections, and layout changes can be made without the need for expensive third-party design apps. Access to PrintFactory Layout means that Kongsberg cutting table users can now print and cut, nest, and create doublesided jobs. It handles white generation and specialty colors and includes special tools for various segments—an all-inone tool for preparing jobs. The new integrated software includes several features specific to Kongsberg users: Ability to export files as zipped JDF (Job Definition Format) for cutting, QR code support for automated workflow in Kongsberg’s iPC, and offset to first registration mark for automatic production and correct cut file orientation. kongsbergsystems.com; printfactory.cloud
Wrapmate Provides a Branding Opportunity for Small Businesses E a r l i e r t h i s y e a r, Wrapmate released the first-ever digital platform for vehicle wrap customers to get exact pricing on their specific vehicle and transact online. Later they successfully added over 5,000 individual vehicles to their platform, giving customers ample selection for pricing and design options. Now Wrapmate has partnered with leading enterprise "Buy Now, Pay Later" solution Uplift to bring monthly payment options to its customers in a first-of-its-kind ecommerce vehicle graphics experience. Wrapmate’s platform allows users to choose their exact vehicle from over 5,600 different options and compare pricing options for different wrap sizes on their exact vehicle year, make, and model, then purchase their project through an online, self-service experience. Additionally Wrapmate supports a nationwide network of over 1,000 top certified graphic professionals known as Wrapmate Pros, providing them with local customer projects and software to help manage their business and receive local installation utilizing 3M vinyl materials. Depending on the customer, monthly payment options will have available terms ranging anywhere from six months to eighteen months. wrapmate.com
VINYL/VINYL FILMS Drytac Weathershield Comes to North America Popular and proven Weathershield polymeric PVC overlaminating film from Drytac has been available in Europe for a number of years, and now—in order to meet customer demand—Drytac is bringing this flagship product to the wider global audience, including the North American market. Drytac Weathershield UV overlaminates are 3.2-mil (80-micron) clear polymeric gloss or matte PVC laminating films that can be used across a whole host of applications including general signage, window graphics, exhibition and event graphics, and P-O-S displays. Also offering excellent levels of versatility with its polymeric qualities, Weathershield can be matched with any Drytac polymeric PVC film— including Polar Premium Clear—to increase the durability and weatherability of graphics. Weathershield has minimal shrinkage and odor due to plasticizer migration resistance and is recommended for outdoor signage or high-end indoor graphic applications where the highest UV protection is needed. The vinyl has UV stabilizers in the face film, plus the adhesive also has UV protection (ensuring the solution provides the very best protection for vibrant-colored inks and media stability). With an outdoor durability of seven years, Weathershield boasts several fire ratings, making it ideal to use in public spaces. drytac.com/product/weathershieldgloss
December 2021 Sign Builder Illustrated
SIGN SHOW DIGITAL PRINTING EQUIPMENT/SUPPLIES Unleash Your UV LED Flatbed Creativity by Helping Clients Stand Out with Innovative Shapes and Sizes The RICOH Pro TF6250 Wide Format UV LED Flatbed Printer helps you drive greater profitability by making it easy to digitally produce a virtually endless range of products on rigid substrates up to 4.3 inches thick. Precise registration lets you create multilayered and textured prints or use tiled printing for oversized images on multiple boards. Wholly designed and developed by Ricoh USA, the system delivers outstanding image quality, productivity, automated daily maintenance, and low-cost operation—giving you the freedom to focus on meeting deadlines and grow your business. The RICOH Pro TF6250 allows you to produce more applications for your customers—from indoor and outdoor signage, backlit displays, P-O-P displays, art reproductions, and event graphics to emerging applications such as promotional items, murals, and short-run specialty packaging. A dual-white ink configuration helps keep production moving faster to speed up critical turnaround times. The system offers up to seven-color printing with CMYK plus Clear, White, and Primer. Ricoh's GREENGUARD-certified UV LED inks offer exceptional image quality up to 635-by-1800-dpi, while variable drop printing enables smooth gradations, grayscale printing, and sharp, accurate text. The RICOH Pro TF6250 utilizes LED curing so you can print on thin materials without any fear of warping. A maximum printing area of 98.4-by-51.2 inches accommodates 4-by-8-foot sheets with full-bleed printing. The RICOH Pro TF6250 comes with user-friendly SAi® Photo Print RIP software, which supports multi-dpi printing and makes tiling, scaling, cropping, and other tasks easier. Additional RIP compatibility to Onyx, Caldera, and ColorGATE is also supported. Automated daily printhead carriage maintenance reduces hands-on time and extends uptime. ricoh-usa.com
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SIGN SHOW DIGITAL PRINTING EQUIPMENT/SUPPLIES Roland DGA Launches a More Affordable CMYK-only Print-and-cut Device Based on its best-selling VersaSTUDIO BN-20, Roland DGA’s new VersaSTUDIO BN-20A desktop printer/cutter delivers the same ease of use, print quality, and versatility of the original, but by removing the recirculating specialty color channel for White and Metallic inks, Roland DGA is able to offer this value-packed “business in a box” at an even lower price. With its combined functionality, reliability, and affordability, the BN-20A is the perfect device for anyone looking to start a home-based business or for existing shops that want to expand by adding print-and-cut applications. The outstanding imaging and integrated contour cutting capabilities of the BN-20A make it ideal for a wide range of applications (signs, posters, decals, labels, customized apparel, etc.). With its ability to produce vibrant graphics and automatically cut around virtually any shape, the BN-20A enables any print provider to stand out from the competition without making a large initial investment. It comes standard with intuitive output software that even beginners can use to easily produce high quality prints from design data such as illustrations and photos. Plus the BN-20A is compact enough to be placed on a desk and can be used safely within any home, office, or retail location without special electrical requirements. The BN-20A also incorporates stateof-the-art features like the True Rich Color preset for vivid, accurate graphics and outstanding detail. The new device also offers users the advantages of reliable, precise integrated contour cutting. With its ability to print and cut in a single operation, the BN-20A maximizes convenience and efficiency, making it perfect for applications like wall graphics and apparel decoration. The BN-20A also enables users to print, remove the print for lamination, and then return that laminated output to the printer for precision contour cutting using Roland DG’s patented Quadralign Optical Registration System. rolanddga.com/bn20series
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December 2021 Sign Builder Illustrated
HOW TO MANAGEMENT MANAGEMENT| BY BYJIM JIMHINGST HINGST
The basic tenets of the SMART Protocol plan.
Plans of Action
Setting profit-generating goals for your business.
Setting SMART Goals The SMART protocol has become a widely accepted business model for establishing concise goals for one’s shop. SMART is an acronym for Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-Bound. Specific. Goals must be specific and 14
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not general. Increasing profit, for example, is so general that it provides no target for employees to aim at and shoot. In contrast, by describing your goals in tangible, quantifiable terms, your employees should have no questions of your expectations. Examples of specific goals include increasing annual sales by $250,000, reducing scrap rate by 10 percent, or generating 50 qualified sales leads each month. Measurable. You’ve probably heard the business maxim that what gets measured gets managed. That is not necessarily so. A more accurate adage might be: If you want to manage something, you need to measure it first. Management requires establishing benchmarks and standards for gauging progress. When you measure results against a performance goal or standard, you impose accountability on your organization. A light is shined on employ-
ees, who are assigned specific tasks. If something doesn’t get done, you can coach your employees on how to improve their performance or take other corrective measures. Achievable. English poet Robert Browning once said, “A man’s reach should exceed his grasp.” This is important because, if the goal isn’t challenging, it won’t be exciting enough to motivate you or your associates. As a manager, involve your employees in setting targets, such as increasing annual sales by 15 percent or reducing shop and administrative costs by 10 percent. At the same time, you should not set the bar so high that you can’t possibly achieve it. Setting unrealistic goals for your associates can be counterproductive. Instead of motivating your workers, you could demoralize them. Relevant. Your goals should be disignshop.com
Photo: Shutterstock/ Artur Szczybylo.
very business has the same ultimate goal—to generate a profit. That prize, though, is contingent upon achieving other goals that focus on key business activities: generating sales leads, increasing revenue (sales), reducing shop and administrative costs, improving productivity, and delivering high-quality products and services. Establishing unambiguous goals and communicating these to your associates provides them with direction and motivation. When workers know what is expected of them, they can concentrate their energy and talents on achieving their goals.
HOW TO MANAGEMENT | BY JIM HINGST
rectly related to the overall objective of your organization. In my opinion, there is only one ultimate goal for any business—to improve the bottom line! All of your other major business goals in sales, marketing, production, and administration should move the needle to this end. Time-Related. Your goal needs to stipulate an end date. Without an end date, there is no sense of urgency. People tend to procrastinate and kick the proverbial can down the road. Importance of the Written Goal If you’re serious about your goals, write them down. The fact is that written goals are more often achieved than those that are spoken. The act of writing forces you to think critically about your objective and ascertain its importance or relevance to your business. It doesn’t matter that you may not have a plan at first; if you’re clear about your destination, your mind tends to move in the direction of the target. If your goal is written, you’re also more likely to review it. That review process encourages you to develop a plan of action and a timetable for achieving the goal. When you write down a goal, you create a destination to focus on. Your mind naturally begins to filter out the extraneous information that doesn’t support your goal. At the same time, you unconsciously accept the information that validates your beliefs. This is why people tend to become what they think about most of the time or achieve the goals that they focus on. When you focus on a destination, you may not initially have a map on how to get there. Developing an Action Plan Some major goals can seem daunting, even unachievable. A large annual sales goal is more manageable and attainable if you break it into monthly targets and divide a team sales budget into individual sales goals. Sales goals are also more acceptable if you include the sales reps in the planning process. Brainstorming sessions are one signshop.com
The Importance of CRM Software A SPREADSHEET or Customer Relationship Management (CRM) program is essential in tracking the activity of your sales people. Today CRM software is relatively inexpensive and can help you in supporting the activities of your sa l es a sso c i a tes, a s we l l a s improving their odds of hitting their targets. CRM software can help you store customer information (past purchases, new opportunities,
way to engage them in planning and creating a list of those actions or tasks that you need to take to achieve your goals. Involving your associates in planning can also serve as a catalysis for bringing individuals together and operating as a team. As you brainstorm with your sales reps, SWOT analysis can stimulate the interchange of ideas. SWOT is an acronym for Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats. This technique is effective in enumerating the strengths that make your shop unique and give you a competitive edge. These strengths comprise your product differential or unique selling proposition, which you should communicate in your sales and marketing messaging. Your SWOT analysis should also identify any weaknesses that put you at a disadvantage. These shortcomings may include outdated equipment, limited machine capacity, or a lack of manpower or technical expertise. The technique also helps uncover opportunities for your business. It can also identify threats (new developments in printer technology, downturns in the economy, changes in local legislation, or new competitors). After your sales and marketing people identify new opportunities, you should generate a target list, which you will work through as you qualify these prospects.
key contacts, etc.) and strengthen the bonds with your account base, which can help you increase repeat sales. Using a CRM program can also make it easier to generate email blasts and direct mail to your sales targets and integrate with social media platforms. It also helps build customer profiles, schedule next-call dates, and generate sales reports.
Your reps should quantify the sales potential for each account. In comprising your target list, be sure to include former customers lost to competitors. Based on a competitive analysis, you can then assess the probability of closing the sale. This is all the information needed to construct a rolling forecast. In developing your plan, detail what actions are required, as well as figure out who is responsible for undertaking those activities and achieving the goal. Also describe how you’ll measure your progress throughout the year. An easy way to outline your plan is to create a spreadsheet—listing the tasks, the person or persons responsible for each task, the deadline for completion, key performance indicators (KPIs), and any associated costs. The spreadsheet provides you with an overview, which allows you to track your progress. As you review your plan each month, you can measure your progress and see what works and what doesn’t work. As conditions change in your business, the spreadsheet is an uncomplicated format to modify. Be sure that you keep your plan simple. You’ll find it impossible to maintain focus, if you have too many goals. If you’re working in a larger shop, you can assign a few goals to either individuals or teams of employees.
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"Prior to converting to FASTSIGNS,we were never able to
achieve the sales goals we wanted. The processes and
MANAGEMENT BY JIM HINGST
procedures allow us to obtain larger goals." - Jeff & Kim Chudoff the implementation of the action step and FASTSIGNS of Maple Shade, NJ (Formerly Arizona Designs)
Setting Sales and Marketing Objectives In helping your sales people manage their sales efforts, you need to set objectives for each of their activities in the sales process. Here are some activities that you might include in your sales plan: Qualify 50 sales leads each week, conduct 25 face-to-face sales meetings each week, quote on $25,000 of new business each week, and/or close $5,000 of new business each week. When selling to your existing customer base, you can establish several strategies for protecting your established accounts and growing sales to these clients: • Contact each current customer once a month on the phone to identify new opportunities, generate referrals, and to promote new product offerings (such as window and wall graphics, safety signage, and floor graphics). • Create an e-newsletter for distribution to customers and prospects each month. Stories could focus on profiles of successful graphics programs. The newsletter should provide links to your website and blog. • Create weekly social media posts showcasing examples of your work. • To protect your business base, your marketing plan could incorporate a variety of forms of communication, such as telemarketing, direct mail, 16
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email blasts, website updates, and social media. Your plan should also include networking with businesses that serve some of the same customers. Activities featured in your marketing action plan might also contain entering 100 prospects into your database each week, making 200 telemarketing calls each week, or generating a report at the beginning of each week recapping the sales and marketing activities of the previous week. Once a quarter, research your competitor’s pricing, increasing your prices to whatever the market will bear thereby improving your bottom line. Small shops typically don’t have a budget for market research. In many cases, your sales people can help provide you with all the information you need. They can help identify market opportunities, target accounts, and note threats. Information harvested through any business connections is also invaluable. With a thorough sales and marketing plan, you can focus the energies of your associates on growing the business. The plan doesn’t need to be too complicated or described in a voluminous theoretical tome. In fact, it’s best if you keep it simple. You can compose all of the details of your plan in a spreadsheet. For each activity, you should describe
The Best Laid Plans The Scottish poet Robert Burns wrote, “The best-laid plans of mice and men often go awry.” While it helps to have a positive attitude in business and expect the best, also prepare for the worst. The key to overcoming problems is remaining flexible. No plan, no matter how thorough and brilliant, should be cast in stone. Things change. Remember that your competitors have plans too. In many cases, they’re planning to grow their businesses by taking your market share. Be prepared for the unexpected. As boxing legend Mike Tyson noted, everyone has a plan when they step into the ring until they get punched in the mouth. When you get punched in the mouth, you better change your plan and change it fast. Better still, always have a backup plan (or “Plan B”) as insurance. Failure to produce a wanted outcome can be caused from an ill-conceived plan or a failure in execution. Of course, some problems, such as an economic downturn or a technology shift in your industry, are difficult, if not impossible, to predict and are beyond your control. Common mistakes in planning include underestimating your competitor’s competencies or overrating your own abilities. Even among the best organizations, this can result in the choke, according to famed basketball coach Pat Riley. To avoid the choke, you and your sales reps need to continually be aware of changes in market conditions, new challenges from competitors, and the introduction of innovative technologies that can put you at a disadvantage. There is no shame when a plan fails. The fault is when you fail to change the plan and continue to do the same thing, expecting to produce a different result. That’s business insanity. What’s important is that, when your plans don’t produce the desired results, you need to identify any problems and modify your plan. signshop.com
a quantifiable target for the step over a specified time period.
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We’ve made converting to FASTSIGNS® an easy decision • Scaled royalty program • FASTSTART training on efficiencies and procedures • Buying power with vendors, helping lower your costs • Respected and recognized brand • State-of-the-art technology and training programs • Proven effective local and national marketing • Convert your existing business for only $15,000 down!
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fastsigns® is part of the propelled family of brands.
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HOW TO BRANDING| BY ELECTRIC | BYDAVID NARINE HICKEY DAVEYAN
NEC 2023 Preview Spotlighting some key upcoming issues.
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watching and paying close attention to in the 2023 code. For example, all definitions (including those specific to NEC Article 600, which applies to Electric Signs) will be relocated to Article 100, in accordance with the NEC Style Manual. This means that sign industry users of Article 600 must check their cross-references in chapters one to four. For those who have been in the industry awhile, this will be a new process—but it is one that must be done to make sure that the installations meet codes. We also are expecting a new requirement that the indicating means of disconnects can be easily identified in their on-off positions. And we also expect that copper-
Photos: (Top) Shutterstock/Dmitry Rukhlenko; (Bottom) Provis Graphic, LLC.
lectric sign shops may not be thinking about 2023 right now, but there are changes ahead that require attention and planning now. In 2023, the National Electric Code will release a new version, and for many years, the International Sign Association has been making sure that the sign, graphics, and visual communications industry is well represented in it. The NEC is particularly important since many communities adopt it outright; this means that your installers in the field will need to comply. While the 2023 code is still in the process stage, there are key changes that we anticipate making it into the final code. There are some things that we are
ORDINANCES | BY DAVID HICKEY
clad aluminum as a bonding conductor will comply with the code. There is another issue we are opposing, as we believe it would be harmful to the industry. There is a push to remove language from Article 600, claiming that it is repetitive of what’s in Chapters 1 and 2. We, at the International Sign Association, don’t believe that is the case. There are key differences in meaning or application that apply only to electric signs. Removing that language from Article 600 in favor of the general requirement will be confusing and make it more difficult for users to comply to Article 600. While these changes may seem minor at the outset, anything that gives opportunity for confusion makes it more difficult in the field. Since many communities adopt the NEC Code outright, an installer that is working in one town could meet with an interpretation that is different from the next town. Or inspectors may have different interpretations of the same code, causing considerable confusion—and frustration—for installers. Your company wants to install signs with safety in mind. Our industry wants that too. However, when rules become confusing or nebulous, it is harder for installers to do their jobs. The International Sign Association will continue to work throughout the 2023 NEC Code process to represent the industry’s interests and to make sure that the electrical requirements for signs are consistent, enforceable, and easy to understand. And we’ve put together a fun video, available for viewing at signs.org/ technical, that explains just why this work is so important. David Hickey is vice president of Government Affairs at the International Sign Association. If you have a code or regulatory issue that’s concerning you, please email him at David.Hickey@signs.org. signshop.com
HOW TO NAVIGATE A CHANGING SIGN LANDSCAPE SBI’s new webinar series—On the Floor—is your compass to all the challenges sign shops face. Our series provides actionable steps to help your sign shop thrive amidst the expanding digital signage landscape and everyday operational challenges.
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8/18/21 3:40 PM
FEATURE SIGN CABINET NAME BY JEFF AUTHOR WOOTEN
or nearly sixty years, Spec’s Wine, Spirits & Finer Foods has served as a one-stop-shop in Texas. Spec’s is an aggressively growing company across the state with over a hundred locations of various sizes today. In fact, the family-owned chain has even been recognized as the fifth largest retail-
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er of wine in the United States. Spec’s is headquartered in Houston, Texas, and they’re considered to be “more than just a liquor store.” For example, their larger locations also offer cigars, fine wines, and even in-shop delicatessens. No matter the sizes of their stores, they all have one thing in common when
it comes to their signage and branding— a bespectacled rabbit with a red jacket and bowtie waving a flag. Spec’s derives its name and logo from co-founder Carroll B. “Spec” Jackson and his sense of humor. The eyeglasseswearing rabbit has long been instantly recognizable in the neon representation signshop.com
All Photos: Humble Sign Company.
Hare’s the story behind the redesign for a pole sign.
could be used at other Spec’s stores going forward.
of the chain’s logo. However with the ground-up construction of a new store in Weatherford, Texas, Spec’s officials thought it was time to update their logo and rabbit mascot on its pole sign. Over the past several years, Spec’s had updated the font for their store-mounted letters but signshop.com
had yet to do so on their pole signs—that is, until this project. They asked Humble Sign Company to provide a full exterior sign package that included storefront signs and letters, as well as a new sign cabinet for the steel pole. Even more special is that they requested a new logo design for it that
Humble Beginnings Humble Sign Company is located in Humble (pronounced “Um-bull”), Texas, which is a suburb of Houston. The company started out as a bootstrapped two-man vinyl shop located in the attic over a vehicle repair shop, equipped with only a printer, a plotter, and a window unit air conditioner. However Bart Peterschick saw potential in them and, with his forward-thinking and universal sales and management skills, turned the business around after purchasing it eleven years ago (“Bigger in Texas,” June 2018). Business has been booming for them ever since! Today Humble Sign Company has over fifty employees, numerous types of equipment (CNC routers, benders, large format printers, paint booths, etc.), and seven service crane trucks (including a dirt-removing excavator dump truck). In fact, due to their growth, this fullservice sign company is planning to move to an even-larger, brand-new facility that will double their current space, which they had moved into just a few years ago. They have also carved out quite an impressive list of national clients, including Landry’s, Chuy’s, the Houston Astros, and, of course, Spec’s. Collin Cantrell, vice president of Operations, was the first salesperson hired after Peterschick took over and still remains heavily involved in this area. One of his goals for many years was becoming a national signage partner for Spec’s. “As we were developing a relationship with them, they saw our passion and our ingenuity and were impressed,” says Cantrell, noting that they handle all new signage for Spec’s. Humble Sign Company has worked on many sign projects for Spec’s, but this new project in Weatherford was going to be their first for a brand-new construction. Spec’s officials wanted to transition from more-expensive-to-maintain neon and take advantage of LED technology in the new pole sign design, bringing up their interest in faux-neon to Cantrell. At the project’s outset, Spec’s already
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The exterior sign package includes the redesigned branding on a pole sign, as well as store-mounted letters.
had their store-approved blues and reds picked out, but Cantrell says they did have some wiggle room with shades of these hues. Cantrell sent a basic scope of some of the elements of Spec’s prior branding to two of his in-house designers and let them have individual free rein at developing a design for this new pole sign on their own. To provide a third consideration, Cantrell also contacted Matt Charboneau, a freelance designer in Colorado that his company has used ever since opening. Cantrell made it a point that the designers not share any of the concepts being developed with each other. “I ended up with three different designs that were original and unique and presented each of them to the Spec’s owners,” he says. It was a close deliberation between Charboneau and the Humble Sign Company designer, with the former narrowly winning design approval. The double-sided cabinet design pays homage to a retro ’50s-style diner with the bespectacled rabbit on a circular center surrounded by “Spec’s” lettering on a bowtie and a curved arrow with marquee-style LED filament bulbs. The Spec’s of the Fabrication The entire cabinet (from the blue skirting bottom to the blue skirting top) measures 193 inches tall and is 133 inches at its widest (part of the bowtie) 22
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The centerpiece rabbit is 101 inches tall, while the “Spec’s” letters stand 34 inches tall and are stud-mounted to the bowtie portion. Humble Sign Company builds all of their signage out of 100 percent aluminum, and this Spec’s cabinet redesign was no different. They built the framing out of twoby-two-inch aluminum tubing and used 0.125-inch aluminum for the face cladding. “We want the aluminum to be thick and sturdy so that it doesn’t have any dimples,” says Cantrell. “That way, we can weld to the backside of it without any worries.” The logo, lettering, and bowtie were all made as channel letters with trim cap and acrylic faces. As mentioned previously, Spec’s officials originally envisioned faux-neon, however Humble Sign Company found a creative way to keep the cost down here. “Faux-neon can be very expensive, so we used blue acrylic on the white letters along with opaque white vinyl to mimic the glow of neon at night,” says Cantrell. “The letters appear white during the day and have a blue outline that illuminates at night. “At a distance, you think that it is, in fact, neon!” The Spec’s rabbit is cast-cut vinyl applied to a white acrylic face. White LEDs are spaced appropriately within the cabinet to illuminate it. “When
we use white LEDs inside the can, we want the reds to be very rich and not appear pink, which can often happen in these situations,” says Cantrell. “So we doubled up on the red vinyl and reversecut it on the backside of the rabbit’s shirt.” The cabinet face, including the arrow, is all flat. In fact, the arrow was cut out with the cabinet faces as just one piece. “The rabbit is a channel letter logo with trimcap and is mounted to the top of it,” explains Cantrell. Humble Sign Company kerf-cut the square tubing for the arrow and the rabbit so that they would bend. “Our fabricators then tap-welded all those curves together to allow the framing for the circle and the arrow,” says Cantrell. “This took hours and was the most time-consuming part.” One challenging part of the project involved cutting the box outside of “Spec’s” to fit the ears. “It was a tight fit,” says Cantrell. “Our pre-press specialist alerted us ahead of time that because the sign is double-sided, the ears of the rabbit would fall on different spots of the bowtie.” Going Down the Rabbit Hole The finished sign was shipped to Weatherford in one piece, standing upright on the back of the company’s flatbed trailer. “We screwed it down into the wood base of the trailer and placed straps over it,” says Cantrell. signshop.com
EVERYTHING YOU NEED TO KNOW TO MANAGE A SUCCESSFUL SIGN BUSINESS To run a successful sign shop, you need to run a successful business. Sign Builder Illustrated can help. Not only do we focus on the work you do on the shop floor, but we also focus on the work you do to improve the success and wellbeing of you and your team.
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Because Weatherford is six hours away from Humble, the sign company did pre-planning to make sure interstate overpasses were tall enough to handle the full upright cabinet. “Before fabrication, we always figure out transportation and if [a sign] needs to be split up so we can carry it or have to get a permit for it because of its size and then decide,” says Cantrell. This ended up being a simple directbury pole sign. Humble Sign Company did their due diligence and called the city before digging so as to avoid any utilities underneath. They used their auger truck to dig the holes, direct bury the steel pole, and then mount the sign to it using steel saddles. “Our auger truck has a grip on it, so it can pick up a pole and stand it in the ground without a problem,” says Cantrell. Humble Sign’s install crew was sent ahead the day before to dig the hole. They then contracted another party to come in and pour the concrete while they held the pole into place until it was level. Once the concrete had settled, Humble Sign Company came back to the site the next day and installed the cabinet to the pole using their eighty-five-foot crane and boom truck. “Because the sign is 100 percent aluminum, it’s really light,” says Cantrell. The power supplies are located inside the sign. “We have an access panel on the side of the sign that they can reach in and change out all the power supplies,” says Cantrell. Conclusion In addition to completing the entire exterior sign package, Cantrell is especially proud that his company was able to help develop further branding for Spec’s. Their design that Spec’s officials had approved will be used on future pole sign installs, where allowed either as a pole sign or a monument sign (to fit into neighborhood surroundings). “Spec’s is growing at a very fast pace, and it’s fun to be part of a successful company’s image like that,” says Cantrell. “It’s great to see something that we, as a team, developed, designed, and built being put up at all of their locations. “In fact, this is one of the things I’m most proud of in my sign industry career at this point!” signshop.com
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ADA/WAYFINDING BRANDING BY ASHLEY SBI STAFF BRAY
A BANK W
ith more and more customers conducting business online, banking, like so many other industries, has undergone many changes over the last few years. To stay relevant and useful to customers, banks have redesigned and repurposed their brick-and-mortar locations into community hubs. FCBank’s branch in Bucyrus, Ohio, wanted to make such a change through its branding and aesthetics. The branch hadn’t updated its interior or exterior in decades, so it was overdue for a makeover. One of the big things the bank wanted to focus its redesign on was its “cardinal rules,” which describe the bank’s values, what it is to the community, and what it offers to customers. In order to make this communityfocused redesign a reality, FCBank
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President Jenny Saunders turned to American Sign Studio of Columbus, Ohio, who she had previously worked with on a holiday window graphics project in the community. American Sign Studio, which is a design-driven company, jumped at the opportunity to help transform FCBank. President Margie Hegg started American Sign Studio three years ago when she was looking for a new career path after being laid off from her job in fashion. The full-service, womenowned sign company is a member of the Signworld network, which provides sign business start-up solutions with a no-royalty structure. Design Deposit For the FCBank project, Hegg started by talking with the bank about its redesign goals and focus on community. “With FCBank, they wanted to fo-
cus for sure on community and their customers,” she says. “We’ve really been listening to their needs, answering their questions, and coming up with solutions that are going to actually lead to an outcome that expresses their corporate values and also speaks to the fact that they’re a community regional bank.” Hegg says she usually goes through at least twenty-five to fifty questions with a customer. Her shop also has a Branding Toolkit™ that they use to help drive decision making with the client, which leads to brand consistency. “We not only get to conceptualize, but then we can fabricate and install, so that gives us a value proposition where we understand how to design it in a way that is going to be cost-effective and not be impossible to manufacture or install,” says Hegg. “We send our design team into the field so they signshop.com
All Photos: American Sign Studio.
A sign company deposits value into a local bank branch.
A blade sign and red awnings transformed the building’s exterior.
Forty-two community photos are featured around a soffit in the lobby.
can see the exact installation and how that happens, so that makes them better at what they do too.” The final design plan included eighteen interior signs, privacy film, three large exterior signs, and exterior awnings. Interior Sign Interest American Sign Studio decided to incorporate design elements that give a nod to the bank’s “cardinal rules.” The cardinal is an original part of the bank’s branding, and it is featured throughout, including at the top of the graphics of the cardinal rules on display in the break room and offices. “Since it’s a cardinal rule, I said, ‘Don’t you think we need a tree?’ So we designed this tree with a little red cardinal in it, and every branch has this now, it’s right when you walk into the bank,” explains Hegg. Photos selected by FCBank of specific attractions and areas of interest around Bucyrus were also used to tie signshop.com
community into the design. Fortytwo community photos are featured around a soffit in the lobby. There are also two large format community photos that were printed out using an HP Latex 365 printer and applied to curved walls in the bank. All of the interior vinyl graphics were printed on Avery Dennison® MPI 2923 Matte Easy Apply™ Vinyl. In addition to the printed graphics, American Sign Studio also installed privacy film on the glass walls of some of the offices and meeting rooms. 3M™ Crystal Glass Finishes 7725SE324, Frosted Crystal was used for the privacy film. The sign company used a combination of dusted crystal dots applied second surface and larger grey and red circles applied first surface to give the glass a dimensional effect. Speaking of dimensional, a few built signs were also included in the interior rebrand such as brushed metal letters that were pin mounted to the wall with
an almost one-inch stand-off. Acrylic letters painted red and spelling out “FCBank” in front of a tile wall proved to be a particularly tricky installation. At first, American Sign Studio considered drilling into the tile to mount the letters, but they were concered about cracking the tile. “I’d say we had fifteen different versions and then finally we had the idea to hang it from the ceiling,” says Hegg. “So we used different ceiling mounts and a cable, and we were able to make it look like it was floating.” Earning Exterior Signs The exterior of the building, which takes up a full city block, also got in on the makeover. Previously a small set of letters spelling out FCBank at the front of the building were all that marked the bank’s location. For the redesign, American Sign Studio completely transformed the building with a num-
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The sign shop suspended these acrylic letters from the ceiling versus drill into the tile wall for mounting.
An example of the privacy film installation.
ber of bright red awnings and three large exterior signs. “We worked pretty diligently with the building department and with the government; because it’s a small town, we had to go get zoning approval and that kind of thing,” explains Hegg. “We ended up needing engineering drawings—not just for the awnings but also for the thirty-four-foot signs that we custom built for the front of the building and also for the back. We had to get an engineer involved to come up with how to properly build and then install those, so that we wouldn’t end up with any issues.” The awnings were made from Sunbrella material, and American Sign Studio outsourced some of the structural construction for the framework before installing them on the building. The three large exterior signs included a custom-built façade with channel letters on the front and back of the building and a blade sign on the side. (Note: The flex face sign on the side of the building was fabricated and installed by a billboard company using a Sign Comp frame and flexface material.) For the façade piece in the front of the building, American Sign Studio went through a number of iterations. “We did about fifteen to twenty renderings for FCBank to get this right. There was a conversation that they really wanted that front band to be illu28
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minated. So that took a lot of creativity on our part as to how was this going to be executed,” says Hegg. “The front of the building is actually rounded [and] curved, so we had to build [the façade] in three sections. And each one of those sections is built around a pillar in the front of the building.” The façade is constructed from aluminum channels with a number of access panels built in. The thirty-four-foot face is made from polycarbonate and is painted second surface with Matthews Paint. The face illuminates at night, along with the channel letters attached to it spelling out “FCBank.” The entire thing is illuminated by Zlight LEDs with Allanson power supplies. Exterior lighting also shines up and down onto the pillars. The back façade was constructed in the same way, without the challenges of the curved building front. The blade sign on the side of the building was also constructed from aluminum channels with a polycarbonate face illuminated by Zlight LEDs with Allanson power supplies. To install the three signs, American Sign Studio used a variety of Elliott service trucks. The sign company used bucket trucks for the facades and a crane for installing the blade sign. In total, the project was completed in two phases, with phase one being all of the exterior work and phase two moving on to the interior.
“We took a long time to come up with the exterior signage; I’d say months. But then once we had everything solidified, I’d say everything came together in 90 days,” says Hegg. “We figured out not just the design but also how to project manage it so that it felt like the community was wowed overnight.” Conclusion American Sign Studio wowed FCBank so much with the final result that they’ve secured more work with the bank. “There’s actually a second level to that building that they want to make into communityshared office space, so that will be something we’ll work on in the future,” says Hegg. “And we’ve been invited to do their next branch as well.” Bucyrus Mayor Jeff Reser was also impressed by the bank’s transformation. “At the ribbon cutting and grand opening, we had the opportunity to meet the mayor, and he invited us to sit with him at lunch,” says Hegg. “He went on and on about how impressed he was with the project, that we exceeded expectations, and that we were helping create a new standard for that town in terms of signage and exterior branding,” “People were immediately writing notes to the bank saying, ‘Wow, what a great job,’ ‘how transformative this is,’ [and] ‘you really helped elevate our community.’ Everyone was so pleased, and we were just thrilled.” signshop.com
HELPING YOUR SHOP
Sign Builder Illustrated is the “how-to magazine” of the sign industry. Each issue includes SBI’s signature “how-to” columns and features with detailed, step-by-step instructions covering a wide range of signage. SBI’s website (signshop. com), newsletters, Buyer’s Guide, and digital edition keep you updated with timely news, recent projects, and upcoming industry events.
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FEATURE NAME ARCHITECTURAL BY MAURA AUTHORKELLER
hen you think about company or product branding, what comes to mind? A company logo? The signage used throughout a store’s interior and exterior? Or maybe the branded apparel worn by employees and patrons alike? In fact, all of the above constitutes a company brand, but for many companies, leveraging their corporate or product brand through signage is often paramount to their success. And that’s exactly what Smith’s Waco Market in Canton, Ohio recently did when they worked with Pro Art Signs in Canton for the design and install of an awe-inspiring banana split sign highlighting the store’s handmade ice cream treats. For over thirty-five years, Pro Art Signs has been family-owned-and-operated, specializing in the design, production, and installation of high-quality signs, vinyl graphics, fleet and vehicle wraps, and tradeshow signage. Logo design, large 30
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format printing, and custom banners are a few more of their specialties. The company operates in an 8,400-square-foot facility, which includes a 60-by-100-foot climate-controlled installation bay that allows the Pro Art Signs team to wrap and letter vehicles year-round. “The banana split sign project came about as a hand-in-hand design collaboration with the client,” says Monica Fritchley, designer at Pro Art Signs. “They were undergoing a total store renovation and required something unique and eyecatching as a focal point for their outdoor ice cream section. It would be the ‘cherry on top’ of the renovation.” From the beginning, the Pro Art Signs team knew that Smith’s Waco Market wanted to feature a banana split as it was one of their most iconic menu items, but the style and design still needed to be hammered out and nailed down. “It was imperative that this sign be oneof-a-kind. The customer had very specific
details that they wanted to incorporate (ice cream flavors, certain toppings, etc.), so we knew that a simple Google image search for ‘banana split artwork’ wasn’t going to cut it,” says Fritchley. “[We finetuned the artwork] until we had exactly what the customer was looking for.” Being that the actual production of the banana split was going to be outsourced, most of Pro Art Signs’ time was spent on the artwork. As Fritchley explains, in the beginning, it took several attempts to realize the customer’s vision. However customer satisfaction was paramount, so they kept going back to the drawing board—literally—fine-tuning it until they had a design that was exactly what the customer wanted. “It’s always a great feeling when your client responds with ‘Yes, that’s it!’ and all of the hard work and time spent pays off,” says Fritchley. Pro Art Signs was also working on graphics for many other elements of the store’s renovation—including a thirtysignshop.com
Photos: Pro Art Signs; (Opposite Page, Top) Peachtree City Foamcraft.
Scooping up an architectural enhancement design.
foot slice of pizza installed on the ceiling in their deli—so the banana split design was worked on in conjunction with that. The initial artwork was drawn on the designer’s iPad using the Procreate® digital illustration app and then imported into CorelDRAW® and vectorized. A few elements had to be tweaked, as is usually the case when converting traditionally styled artwork into vector art, but Pro Art Signs made sure to maintain the image that the customer had approved. After receiving a final design approval, Pro Art Signs partnered with Peachtree City Foamcraft in Peachtree, Georgia and sent them the completed artwork for the manufacturing process. Peachtree City Foamcraft brought the flat, two-dimensional image fully to life by employing their stucco-coated foam core for a very lightweight, easy to install, yet sturdy sign that will have no problem surviving the Northeast Ohio elements. “Even we were amazed at how well they were able to translate this particular artsignshop.com
work into three dimensions,” says Fritchley. “They consistently deliver a highquality final product.” The finished banana split measures roughly four-by-eight feet. Upon receiving the finished banana split sign from Peachtree City Foamcraft, Pro Art Signs contacted their friends at nearby Canton Sign Co., who helped with the installation. “One of the nice things about being a small, local, ‘mom and pop’ shop is that the opportunity often arises to collaborate with other small, local shops and help one another out,” says Fritchley. “We’re always happy to work with other businesses in the community.” The sign was manufactured with an aluminum plate built into its backside. “We used an aluminum u-channel to secure it to the building,” says Fritchley. From start to finish, Pro Art Signs spent about two months on the project. No matter how big or small the job may be, customer satisfaction and a job well
done are always the driving force behind what Pro Art Signs does. “As the old saying goes, ‘a good name is better than gold,’ and we never sell a product or send a job out that we wouldn’t be happy paying for ourselves,” says Fritchley. According to Fritchley, the sign exceeded everyone’s expectations and has received many, many kind compliments. “We can’t thank Smith’s Waco Market enough for giving us the opportunity to make their vision a reality, and for trusting us to add the final touch to their total store renovation,” she says. “And we’d also like to thank our partners in the project; both Peachtree City Foamcraft and Canton Sign Co., went above and beyond to assist us with the production and installation of the sign.” At the end of the day, Fritchley says that this was simply one of the most enjoyable and rewarding projects of the year. “We’re so grateful to have been a part of it,” she says.
Sign Builder Illustrated
FEATURESIGNAGE DIGITAL NAME BY ASHLEY AUTHORBRAY
Brick-and-mortar retailers need to create a unique experience to attract customers, and digital signs fulfill that need.
INSIDE VIEW Sign companies sitting back and thinking that indoor digital signage isn’t for them may get edged out of projects.
Business owners are becoming more savvy and recognizing the opportunity to have a fully integrated system that uses both outdoor and indoor digital signage. 32
Sign Builder Illustrated
All photos: Daktronics, Inc.
ccording to Visix, a digital signage solutions provider, 70 percent of Americans say they have seen a digital display in the past month. That same site also says 52 percent of Americans have seen a digital sign in the past week. Many of these digital signs are most likely outdoor displays, but as digital communications increase around the world, it only makes sense that the use of indoor digital displays will increase as well. “I think that we’re going to find that end customers—the business owners— are going to become more savvy in the next five years, and they’re going to recognize the opportunity to have a fully integrated system that uses both outdoor and indoor signage,” says Taylor Nilson, market manager, OnPremise – Commercial Reseller & National Accounts, for Daktronics. “They want a control system that will control both seamlessly, and they want to be able to use similar messaging. They want that experience to be seamless. “So the colors, the background, and the content they see on the outdoor signage—they want to see those same things on the indoor signage. Then they’re going to try to blend that with their traditional marketing as well. Whether there’s TV advertising or print or radio, they want all those messages to coordinate and align.” And who better to handle that coordination and alignment than sign companies? Despite the opportunities, however, many sign shops have been hesitant to get involved with indoor digital signage. “There are a lot of sign companies that are sitting back out there and thinking, ‘Well I’m just not that interested in indoor applications. I’ve got my outdoor static signage, and I’ve got my outdoor digital signage. I’m pretty good in those areas, and that’s all I really need to do,’” says Nilson. But settling for the status quo is the wrong mindset to take if sign companies want to stay competitive. Nilson cautions, “For those sign companies sitting back and thinking that indoor signage really isn’t their thing, they may get edged out of projects where the signshop.com
end customer says, ‘Yeah, well, I want it, and I want to work with a partner that can help me do it all and not just the outdoor stuff. We have to help sign companies understand that this is a huge opportunity for upscales and for larger projects, to increase the basket size for projects. “If they sit on the sidelines for some of these indoor applications, they may lose out on some projects.” Nilson says the need and demand for indoor digital signage is greater now than ever before. Retail businesses especially need to give customers a reason to visit them, or consumers will just do all of their busi-
The case for the indoor digital sign market. ness online. In fact, Visix cited a statistic that found 80 percent of shoppers say they have entered a store because a digital sign caught their interest. “We’ve been saying for a long time that brick-and-mortar retailers need to create a unique experience for customers to want to come to their location instead of just shopping online,” says Nilson. “Well now with COVID-19, and the pandemic, that is even more true than ever.” From the client side, the need and the demand for indoor digital signage is there, but there may also be a reason within your own sign company to get involved with this market, aside from your bottom line—and that’s the need to attract talented and younger workers. “When I talk to sign companies and I ask, ‘What’s the biggest problem facing you today?’ the answers I get are about staffing, they’re about turnover, and they’re about [getting] good, qualified people that want to work in the signage industry,” says Nilson. “I think digital signage, and especially the indoor and more technologically complex applications, is a way to attract that younger workforce and show that sign compa-
nies aren’t just this stodgy welding and electrical company—they do fun and exciting and sophisticated technological things.” Of course, a long list of reasons for why you should start offering interior digital signs doesn’t negate the challenges and hurdles to market entry that your sign company is surely aware of. For one, the technology can be harder to understand and install on indoor projects—but not impossible. Aside from partnering with digital sign manufacturers to learn the ropes, Nilson recommends learning the best questions to ask a customer to find out how they will utilize the digital signage: • How are they going to use the product? What are they going to do with it? • What kind of sources of data do they want to hook up to (menu, streaming data, live feed, scheduled content, etc.)? • Will there be any kind of audio integration? “[It’s about] asking the right questions and understanding how the customer is going to utilize the equipment and then being able to understand what that means, especially from the control equipment side of things,” says Nilson. “We’re finding that there’s a fairly small percentage of sign companies today that are capable of asking the right questions and figuring the system correctly for the indoor applications.” This is where competition from A/V integrators—another hurdle—comes into play. But Nilson believes he is seeing the start of collaboration versus competition between sign shops and integrators. “There’s this interplay between the A/V integrator niche and the sign company niche,” he says, “and it will be interesting to see how this shakes out over the next five years because I think that both business areas are starting to kind of encroach and cross over into each other’s territories. There’s plenty of business out there to be had. “We all need to find a way to positively work together and to either grow our respective skill set into areas we want to be in or to work together collaboratively on projects.”
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SHOP TALK WORKPLACE
BY JIM HINGST
want your team to focus on the business’s goals and take ownership of their role in achieving them, you need to involve them in the process. One way to do that is to solicit their input on all aspects of your strategy—including the plans for achieving those goals, their responsibilities in executing the plan, and what metrics you will use to measure the performance of the team. Preparing the Plan. Based on the input from the workers in your shop and other business associates, formulate your plan of execution. Leave nothing to chance or interpretation. Divide each major action step into its principal activities that you need to complete or accomplish.
Or learning how to herd cats.
n working with teams at a sign shop, getting everyone on the same page is often times difficult, especially when it comes to working with creative people. Focusing the attention of strong-willed individuals is akin to herding cats. Some feel that you shouldn’t even try. Just give your cats an assignment and a deadline and let them do their own thing. If you are independent by nature (a cat, so to speak), it’s hard to disagree with this approach—that is, if you achieve the results that you want. Teams are often more effective in following through on a plan, if allowed some degree of autonomy in how tasks are accomplished. Often some associates assume leadership roles. Team members can exert pressure on their peers to take responsibility for an assignment and get the job done. What’s more, peer pressure provides more motivation and less resentment than having a
boss micromanage his or her employees. Not everyone can work independently. Some require a little more structure. That’s not to say that you should micromanage your employees; instead, as a shop owner or manager, you need to act as a coach and mentor to them. Coaching your employees as they participate in achieving goals is not a parttime activity. To be an effective coach, you need work on it daily. As a manager and a coach, here are the steps that you need to take:
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Define the Goals. As a manager, you need to explain the company goals and describe what you are doing in each phase of the plan.
Not everyone can work independently. Some people require a little more structure.
Listen. Remember the advice of Dr. Stephen Covey, the author of 7 Habits of Highly Effective People: “Seek first to understand, then to be understood.” If you
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POSTMASTER: Send address changes to Sign Builder Illustrated, PO Box 239, Lincolnshire IL 60069-0239 USA. Instructional information provided in this magazine should only be performed by skilled crafts people with the proper equipment. The publisher and authors of information provided herein advise all readers to exercise care when engaging in any of the how-to-activities published in the magazine. Further, the publisher and authors assume no liability for damages or injuries resulting from projects contained herein.
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Coaching Your Employees
Specificity is critical in describing tasks. The plan should outline what needs to be done, when the task must be completed, and who is responsible. Also explain how you will monitor performance. Your plan of execution should also identify any resources or any changes in your shop’s operations that are needed to accomplish your business objectives. To achieve the best results, managers need to listen to the input from their employees and then provide them with positive reinforcement. Words of encouragement usually work better than criticism and intimidation.
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