Sign Builder Illustrated July 2018

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Contents July 2018

Vol. 32

No. 277

How-To Columns

14 16


By Dave Miller The advantages of new tax rules are waiting to be applied.


By John Hackley Change is not a four-letter word.


8 12 42 44


Editor Jeff Wooten finds that the stories behind the numbers are most interesting when it comes to trends.


Las Vegas shines even brighter with Touchdown Towers, OSHA removes crane capacity requirement, and a 3D printing snow spectacular.

Sign Show

The newest products and services from sign manufacturers.

SBI Marketplace

Advertisements and announcements from the sign trade.

Shop Talk

ISA Vice President of Government Affairs David Hickey advises how to help communities not get left behind with technology.

8 Features

18 22 26 32 38

32 2

Sign Builder Illustrated

July 2018



By Tim Boxeth Bring your wrap business to the next level.


By Gary Johnson A mechanical past inspired the state-of-the-art present.


By Sharon Toji A one-size-fits-all solution that actually works.


By Jim Cirigliano Entry-level flatbed printers unlock profitable customization and personalization capabilities.


By Chad Bogan Four easy steps to deploying digital signage for corporate communications.


By Jeff Gatzow Hyatt Regency O’Hare upgrades to exterior LED luminaires.

​Cover Photo: 3M.


July 2018, Vol. 32, No. 277 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. 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 Managing Editor Ashley Bray 55 Broad Street, 26th Floor New York, NY 10004 212-620-7220 Contributing Writers Mike Antoniak, Chad Bogan, Tim Boxeth, Jim Cirigliano, Jeff Gatzow, John Hackley, David Hickey, Dan Johansen, Gary Johnson, Dave Miller, Lori Shridhare, Sharon Toji

art Art Director Nicole Cassano Graphic Designer Aleza Leinwand

production Corporate Production Director Mary Conyers

circulation Circulation Director Maureen Cooney

advertising sales Associate Publisher/East Coast Sales Jeff Sutley 212-620-7233 Mid-West & West Coast Sales Monica Boutros 212-620-7225 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

July 2018

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Editor’s Column


By Jeff Wooten

July 2018 JULY 18-21:

The Mid South Sign Association’s Annual Meeting and Tradeshow will take place at the Beau Rivage Resort & Casino located in Biloxi, Mississippi. (

August 2018 AUGUST 9-11:

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

What’s Trending?

AUGUST 29-31:

The WSSC Sign Show/CSA Convention will be held at the Hyatt Regency Orange County in Garden Grove, California. (

The projects behind the facts & figures.


Sign Builder Illustrated

July 2018

“QSRs are constantly changing promotions, and LED displays are the perfect communication vehicle for this industry, especially now with software that allows QSRs to quickly schedule content to one or multiple locations, build tailored campaigns with targeted content for day parts, easily manage large content libraries, and upload one or multiple media types for each LED display size.” We also have an article about dualpurpose ADA signage this month that can be considered an “unofficial” part of our sign trends coverage (just not branded as such). The trend in this field is moving away from the basic and the bland. In fact, Rowmark notes that the biggest trend today with ADA is its incorporation of branding into the overall signage plan for environmental spaces and building décor. “Customers are seeking more architectural aesthetic options to fit their corporate branding and image,” say Rowmark officials. “Gone are the days of utilitarian black-andwhite ADA-compliant signs. “Today’s ADA-compliant signs have style and design and just a touch of flair to create a custom-branded look.” For expanded versions of our sign trends articles this month, be sure to visit our Web site (

Jeff Wooten Editor,

September 2018 SEPTEMBER 13-15:

The Southern States Sign Association Tradeshow takes place at the Great Wolf Lodge in Concord, North Carolina. (


The 2018 NSSA Northeast Sign Expo will occur at the Hartford Connecticut Convention Center. (


The PRINT 18 exhibition and conference returns to McCormick Place South in Chicago, Illinois. (

Photo: Shutterstock/Athitat Shinagowin.


ur theme this month is “sign trends.” While several of our features, columns, and news items touch on this topic, we’ve marked three articles (starting on page 32) with this special branding—custom flatbed and wide format printing, digital signage, and LED lighting retrofits. Sometimes press releases and studies about trends in all sort of fields that come across my inbox can be, well, a little bit on the dry side with their focus solely on data. Some of these reports spend so much time calculating analytics, statistics, and logistics that they sometimes forget about the faces behind the numbers. That’s why we’re focusing on the project aspect—to give you a good idea of the things you can do with these figures and projections. For instance, you’ll learn that the adoption rate for LED digital signage in the hospitality market will surge to 80 percent over the next two years, and in doing so, we highlight one such retrofit project to help explain why to you. Digital signage is a hot trend in general. According to Grand View Research, the global market for digital signage across fifteen industries (such as corporate) is now worth an estimated $16 billion, and by 2025, it’s projected to reach $31 billion. We’ll show how to get involved with digital signage for corporate clients. “Digital signage is a tool being adopted by every one of these industries, particularly quick service restaurants [QSRs],” adds Shawn Klinger, director of sales, Eastern Region for Optec Displays, Inc.

October 2018 OCTOBER 18-20:

SGIA Expo is being held at the Las Vegas Convention Center in Las Vegas, Nevada. (

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In The Industry The Touchdown Towers are located near pedestrian bridges.

Las Vegas shines


as Vegas, Nevada—It takes a special something to create signage that will stand out from the crowd, especially in the busy entertainment zones of Las Vegas. But that’s exactly what one company is determined to do. “To stand out in Las Vegas, we take the approach of stimulating people’s senses,” says Jeremie Watkins, managing partner of Kre8 Media Outdoor Advertising ( “From sound, moving parts, lighting effects, LED screens, and 3D build-outs, we aim to give the public something they just haven’t seen before or that has never been created.” Founded in 2012, Kre8 Media is an 8

Sign Builder Illustrated

July 2018

advertising company based in Las Vegas. The company’s more-than-200 employees work on everything from mobile billboards (including digital) to custom mobile build-outs, street team services, and live events featuring brand “ambassadors.” Watkins and his partner Shaun Habibian met during just the right life circumstances to launch a new company. When Watkins was let go from his previous employer unexpectedly, he started Kre8 Media. A year later, he met Habibian who had introduced the first digital mobile billboards to the market and was working with a talented fabrication team. “The spark that launched our busi-

ness was the combination of my experience in sales and relationships, which aligned with Shaun’s fabrication and operations talent,” says Watkins. “We realized we could create a marketplace that didn’t yet exist.” In addition to mobile billboards and live events, Watkins and Habibian created a concept called “Touchdown Towers,” which they’ve been working on for the last four years. Essentially, these towers are advertising centers located on pedestrian bridges on Las Vegas Boulevard. The ad space on the towers span the length and width of the structures, which is 45 feet tallby-21 feet wide, allowing for a full wrap. “These towers are unique to the market

Photos: Kre8 Media Outdoor Advertising.

Even Brighter

OSHA Updates crane Rule


To stand out in Las Vegas, we take the approach of stimulating people’s senses.

and only exist on the Las Vegas Boulevard,” says Watkins. Lyft was recently featured on the towers. “At Lyft, we are always looking for creative [methods] to reach even more people with the importance of responsible rides, and the placement on Touchdown Towers does just that,” said Yacob Girma, general manager of Lyft Las Vegas. “Our goal is to continuously provide transportation options to our community and make it widely known that there are affordable choices available to get passengers to and from their destination safely.” Reaching for the sky is one way to compete within the busy advertising mecca of Las Vegas. Others include mobile billboard trucks that can display

custom 3D build-outs and wraps. They can also feature unique sensory effects such as audio, simulated weather (fog, snow), and color-changing LEDs. And the casino theme was also tackled when the company worked with Caesars Entertainment to create a moving mobile billboard that replicated The High Roller, a 550-foot-tall observation wheel at Caesars Entertainment’s LINQ Promenade. The secret to Kre8 Media’s success? There are many factors, including acting as a full-service advertising company. “We do everything in-house—from design to fabrication,” says Watkins. “This allows us to bring these exciting builds to life for our clients.” —Lori Shridhare

airfax, Virginia—The National Commission for the Certification of Crane Operators (NCCCO) announced that, on May 21, OSHA has removed from its rule the requirement for crane operators to be certified according to the capacity of the crane, a decision supported by the overwhelming majority of industry stakeholders at meetings hosted by OSHA and others since the rule was first published in 2010. In its Proposed Rule (https://bit. ly/2s1vhaI), OSHA also lays out plans to address the other major issue— that of what, if anything, an employer’s duty should be over and above operator certification. Fully one-fifth of the Federal Register notice is taken up with details of what OSHA is proposing should be the responsibility of employers in addition to having their operators certified (including their ongoing evaluation and training). Other areas OSHA addresses in its Proposed Rule include: qualifications for trainers; who must pay for certification (the employer); whether duty cycle cranes or cranes in the 5,000- to 35,000-pound capacity should be excluded (no); requirements for operators-in-training; and whether there should be (yet) another extension if the Final Rule is not published until after July. OSHA has also announced it will extend the comment period on the proposed rule on crane operator certification through July 5, 2018 to allow stakeholders more time to review the proposed rule and to provide comments.

July 2018

Sign Builder Illustrated


In The Industry Lonsdale Display Mesmerizes


Snow, Sports, & Spectaculars


os Angeles, California—The worlds of large format 3D printing and winter sports merged during this year’s annual Ski Deal Week that was held March 17-24 in Sella Ronda, Italy. Organized by ski-focused travel agency Ski Deal, the goal of the annual weeklong festival is to provide avid skiers and snowboarders with a full-blown European winter sports and entertainment experience. With the event attracting festivalgoers of all age groups, the organizers this year wanted to inject some new levels of creativity and interactive entertainment to boost customers’ engagement with the brand. This saw Ski Deal enlist the help of two European large format print services—Italian advertising agency SismaItalia and French-based METROPOLE, in


Sign Builder Illustrated

July 2018

partnership with Marie 3D, to produce a range of larger-than-life, 3D-printed winter sports accessories. The end-result: These boots were made for selfies! Produced on the companies’ Massivit 1800 3D Printers, the models included a pair of oversized goggles, a helmet, a full-size snowboard, and (the main attraction) a gigantic ski boot that featured prominently on social media after hundreds of visitors chose to climb inside for a selfie or two! Measuring 7.2-by-7.5 feet, the realistic ski boot comprised just two pieces and was produced in only thirtyeight hours. Once the gloss finish was applied, the lifelike boot was then ready to be transported by cable car to its final destination—1.9 miles above ground level—to steal the limelight.

Photo Credit: Shutterstock

3D Printing:

rookings, south dakota— Daktronics partnered with QMS, a leading digital outdoor media company, to continue momentum in Melbourne, Australia, by launching “The Lonsdale,” a new premium landmark digital billboard in the heart of Melbourne’s central business district (CBD). The new digital billboard measures 2.93 meters high-by-10.62 meters wide and features 10-millimeter line spacing to deliver a commanding presence at the major intersection of Lonsdale a n d Ru sse l l St re ets. I t of fe rs extended dwell times to both vehicle and pedestrian traffic, impacting more than 2.2 million viewers per month. Located in a key pedestrian area of the CBD that is open 24/7, The Lonsdale provides advertisers with a unique opportunity to capture a professional working audience during the week and large volumes of visitors on the weekends due to its proximity to key tourist, shopping, and multicultural precincts. “The launch of The Lonsdale marks an impressive milestone for o u r b u si n ess, ex p a n d i n g o u r already extensive Melbourne portfolio to thirty-two landmark digital billboards,” said QMS CEO John O’Neill.

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Sign Show ACRYLICS/PLASTICS Trotec Adds Heavy-duty TroLase Textures to Its Product Line TroLase Textures from Trotec Laser are two-layer, acrylic-based materials designed for applications in demanding environments where extra durability and scratch resistance are required. Available in a number of colors and sizes, the new products have a textured, matte surface that is non-reflective and easy to clean. TroLase Textures are UV- and weather-resistant and suitable for indoor and outdoor applications such as interior signs, exterior signs, safety signs, and more. They can be cut with a laser, saw, or shears. TroLase Textures are available in full, half, and quarter sheets.

ARCHITECTURAL New Plaques Catalog and Online Estimator Tool are Now Available from Gemini The plaques catalog provides an overview of Gemini’s plaque product offerings such as cast, precisiontooled, etched, engraved, ADA, and wayfinding. New additions to the catalog include a new cast bronze donor tree that is available in two options that ships in Gemini’s standard twelve working day lead time and a projected wayfinding mount for the cast plaque product line. Meanwhile the online plaques estimator tool also has a new interface that allows users to generate estimates in sixty seconds, instantly place orders, view plaque quote history, and download a quote with or without pricing. The plaques estimator tool is available to Gemini Authorized Reseller Partners.

CUTTERS/PLOTTERS Easy Cut Studio Compatible with Mutoh ValueCut and Fenta Cutting Plotters Easy Cut Studio has announced the launch of Easy Cut Studio version 4.1.03. This latest version includes many new vinyl cutters supported, like Mutoh ValueCut Series, Fenta, Roland GS, etc. In addition, the new version features enhanced SVG support, text-to-outlines conversion capabilities, and the ability to work on multiple layers at once among its improvements. Equipped with complete layout, design, text, and production features for all of your sign-making needs, Easy Cut Studio is fully compatible with Windows 10 as well as the latest macOS 10.13 systems.

DIGITAL PRINTING EQUIPMENT/SUPPLIES OKI Data Americas Adds Grant Graphics to Its ColorPainter Reseller Program Grant Graphics, a leading supplier of large format printers, media, and support, is now part of OKI Data's ColorPainter Authorized Reseller Program. Located in Saratoga Springs, New York and serving customers in various industries across the northeastern United States, Grant Graphics is a full-service print-and-cut solutions provider with a first-hand understanding of how the products it sells fit into the print operations of its customers. Grant Graphics has established formidable real-time service and support teams through a variety of communication channels (phone, email, video, and on-site) staffed by veteran technicians backed by more than thirty-five years of industry experience.

VEHICLE GRAPHICS Avery Dennison Introduces New Colors of Film for Conform Chrome Series Avery Dennison Graphics Solutions has launched three new colors, a new finish, and a larger width for the Conform Chrome Series of vehicle wrapping film. The new vinyl films, intended for accent wraps, are available in fifty-three-inch width, and they include Violet, Rose Gold, and Matte Silver. Similar to previous Conform Chrome films, these new colors can be applied to simple curves, and they feature patented Easy Apply RS™ adhesive. Conform Chrome Matte Silver is the first film from the series to feature a matte finish, and it is recommended for full wrap applications (as well as accent wraps with mirror-like finishes for an authentic chrome look). (800) 282-8379;


Sign Builder Illustrated

July 2018



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How To


Are you Poised to Win?


an you imagine a more exciting and optimistic time to be in the sign-making business? Today emerging technologies are opening new opportunities that can be leveraged to generate profitable lines of revenue. The advantages of new tax rules are waiting to be applied by you. Your business in 2019, 2020, or beyond depends on what you do this week, this month, or this year. It’s up to you to seize the day and move forward with a focus on the future. And right now you have unprecedented potential for growth and success. Sign-making opportunities abound in every new or re-furbished building across North America. New tax laws and enhanced depreciation schedules are especially favorable for sign manufacturers. Now, more than ever before, is the time to be optimistic about where your business can go. Gaining a Competitive Advantage For example, recent changes in the tax 14

Sign Builder Illustrated

July 2018

code can have a major impact on how you can transform the course of your sign or graphics business. You are probably without doubt aware

the advantages of new tax rules are waiting to be applied. It’s up to you to seize the day and move forward. of Section 179 of the tax code, which lets you deduct the expense of various business equipment in the year it is purchased. For 2018, it gets better. Previously the amount deductible

as an expense was $500,000. That has now swelled to $1 million, as long as the property is placed in service during the year for which the expense is claimed. Obviously this has an instant bottom line impact compared to depreciating capital purchases over several years. There are some details you’ll want to cover with your accountant, but the main point is that this presents a terrific opportunity to invest in your company, your people, and the equipment you use every day. Moreover this rule can open the way to having new equipment that can transform the range and quality of the products and services you offer and help differentiate your company from the competition. And there’s more. According to Summit CPA Group, Section 179 offers firstyear bonus depreciation. This is similar to the way Section 179 allows a business to immediately expense capital purchases rather than depreciating them over several years. But now, for 2018, the first-year bonus depreciation will increase to 100 percent of the qualified asset purchase price for the next five tax years. Think of all this as a competitive advantage—straight from the tax code. Still you have to be smart and proactive about this. Your competitors’ accountants and tax lawyers also know about the advantages of Section 179. Those companies may be eyeing new equipment with a gleam in their eye and wondering how they can grab a bigger share of the market—at your expense. So make the first move, because as the old saying goes, “He who hesitates is lost.” Be Smart…and Equipped to Win While this tax code advantage is certainly compelling with respect to your offerings to the tax man, every business still

Photo: Shutterstock/totojang1977.

The advantages of new tax rules are waiting to be applied.

Photo: Shutterstock/RomanR.

runs on its monthly cash flow. We know there are some great months and others you’re probably just glad to get through. To help reduce the stress level of that balancing act, we’ve looked at ways to help you cost effectively grow your business and still be able to take advantage of Section 179. First you need to have the right technology to do what your customers need today and be able to support their future challenges. We believe one of the best ways to accomplish this is with financing. Financing lets you take immediate delivery of new equipment that can give you a competitive edge while taking full advantage of Section 179 because you are buying the equipment. Nova Polymers has partnered with Amur Equipment Finance, a company that’s passionate about providing the best possible financial products for equipment-intensive industries—like sign making, for example. “People buy new equipment to increase revenue or decrease costs,” affirms Ed Testa, vice president of Business Development at Amur Equipment Financing. In doing the due diligence for a new piece of equipment, for example, a sign maker probably already has a pretty good idea of how much new revenue could be expected if that piece of saidequipment were brought online. Similarly a business owner outsourcing some work knows the cost of the work being done outside. In both instances, existing costs can be compared with those of financing a new piece of equipment that could do the same work, quickly showing the ROI of the new equipment Testa, an equipment financing veteran, says smart financing serves as an economic engine for business. “Cash is king, and one big advantage with financing is conservation of capital,” he says. “This can be a benefit for any number of reasons, from easing cash flow to simply preserving resources for

other purposes—such as building improvements or working capital.” For instance, while a company using financing doesn’t pay for its new equipment all at once, it can still take advantage of the deduction and accelerated depreciation schedule available through Section 179. For many businesses, equipment financing can also keep existing bank lines of credit open and allow other business plans to move forward. “Financing lets sign makers add stateof-the-art equipment to their operations, be trained, start making various types of signs, and add revenue—as well as profits—in just a few short weeks,” notes Bob Greenberger, director of Sales at Nova Polymers. Conclusion All of us are presented with challenges on a daily basis. However it’s those companies that are able to understand the challenge completely and address them in a progressive manner that are more apt to turn their challenges into advantages. Dave Miller is managing director for Nova Polymers Inc. (, a manufacturer of materials and equipment used to produce ADA-compliant signage. For more information, you can contact Dave on LinkedIn at @WhoisDaveMiller.

July 2018

Sign Builder Illustrated




Continuous Improvement


can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard the phrase “we don’t change very fast around here” from sign business owners. Usually I take it as a brush-off tactic because it feels like they don’t want to talk about the nasty little six-letter word called change. From what I see looking in with outside eyes, it appears what they really mean to say is “we don’t change at all around here!” This is a big problem with the “old school” owners in our industry and why there is such a disparity between the haves and the have-nots. The progressive companies are laughing all the way to the bank, while the “we don’t change very fast around here” companies are treading water at best. Granted you don’t necessarily have to change anything if it’s not broken, but thinking you are not affected by the world evolving around you or that you are immune to disease in your own company is a false expectation. Furthermore I’ll bet you could make some changes right now that would great16

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July 2018

ly benefit the company, but you don’t know what to change or how to change. At this point, lets shift from the term “change” to its friendlier counterpart called “Continuous Improvement,” a vital tool that ensures long-term success. The Institute of Quality Assurance defines Continuous Improvement (CI) as a gradual, never-ending change that is focused on “increasing the effectiveness and/or efficiency of an organization to fulfill its policy and objectives”—or put simply, “getting better all the time.” When managing a CI company, you are on a constant lookout to improve the things that aren’t working while creating a better environment that makes the customer and employee experience more enjoyable with higher ROIs to stakeholders. A Continuous Improvement company is all about living and breathing improvement in your day-to-day operations and by everyone in the organization as part of the total effort from now until the end. Without a CI mentality, owners start to do “complacent thinking,” assuming things are okay because that’s the way you

have always done it; if it’s not broken it doesn’t need fixing. Doing this sets yourself up for a big surprise. Recent history shows no organization is bulletproof. Successful CI organizations share five things in common. 1. Goal setting. Goals should be set based on the short- and long-term objectives of the organization’s strategic plan with short-term being three to twelve months and long-term two to three years. The two plans work together and are designed as a single strategy that is broken down into monthly and quarterly objectives. This keeps things in focus so teams can be accountable because they can relate better to visible “must outcomes” targets in “now term” action. When written down, tracked, and managed, the chances of success are increased exponentially. Studies by Edwin A. Locke and his colleagues have shown that more specific and ambitious goals lead to more performance improvement—as long as the person accepts the goal, has the ability to attain it, and does not have conflicting goals. 2. Systems. Dependable, well-managed systems and procedures make sure “good work” is performed the same way every time, resulting in a predictable level of quality within predetermined standards. Some desirable traits of systemization are: improved employee morale, management stress reduction, minimized rework and overtime, increased profitability, and improved receivables and cash flow. 3. Monitoring. The main goal of monitoring things like time, materials, quality, and any other activity is to better understand what progress is being made towards a particular objective. The observations provide a basis for problem solving or, if things are going well, the ability to exploit the positive thing you are doing to get even more of a desired result. Key Performance Indicators (KPI)

Photo: Shutterstock/infocus.

Change is not a four-letter word.

How To

business management By john hackley

are a good way to keep focused on the things that matter the most. KPIs evaluate the success of an organization or of a particular activity in which it engages; they can be both tangible and intangible. Choosing the right KPIs relies upon a good understanding of what is important to the organization, which often depends on the department measuring the performance, e.g., the KPIs useful to sales will differ from the KPIs assigned to production. Examples might be: client loyalty and retention, number of rework hours, number of time-loss accidents, rate of securing new customers, or number of customer complaints. As the saying goes, “you can’t hit a target you aren’t aiming for.” In effect, monitoring or measuring is a form of aiming, and if you don’t know how or if you’re getting there, you won’t be able to navigate the obstacles that are surely to

get in your way. 4. Reporting. Keep it simple! I know too many companies that measure everything; they even have staff on the payroll just to count hours and widgets, yet they don’t use the metrics to manage by. You only need enough info to get the job done. Let the majority of your managers’ time be for doing the heavy lifting of working on your company by leading and strategy implementation, not writing reports and long review meetings. Make reporting quick and easy, to the point, and consistent so that people can make good decisions based on what the results are telling you and not by ego, emotion, or personal agendas. 5. Involve the staff. If you keep the data to upper management only, you are leaving out the people who can most likely give you the best results. Often times, it’s the employees who are closest

to the source. You will also find they are as concerned about productivity and quality as you are. They have a deep sense of pride in workmanship and a vested interest called “job security.” Conclusion Leading without a Continuous Improvement culture is like fighting with one hand tied behind your back—it will cost you more pain in the long run and prevent an early arrival to your destination. Why not be transparent and bring your team together? You’ll find more cooperation, better relationships, and more profit in your pocket than you could imagine. John Hackley brings over thirty-five years of small manufacturing business experience. He serves as Chief Efficiency Officer for Oculus Business Coaching (

July 2018

Sign Builder Illustrated





SUCCESS Bring your wrap business to the next level.

Before you agree to any project, it is a good idea to outline the project design time, cost of materials, and installation time.


All Photos: 3M.

he popularity of vehicle graphics today is skyrocketing into a mainstream trend. We regularly hear from shop owners who are reporting steady growth, as more and more people are inspired to wrap their commercial and/ or personal vehicles. Meanwhile improvements in graphic films also now make it easier to install a wrap and create a new design whenever the mood strikes. By developing a growth strategy for your business, you can help ensure that your bottom line benefits from these new trends. It can also help ensure that, when you do bump up your sales by taking on more projects, you are able to manage operations seamlessly amidst the boom in business.

are best suited for your sign or graphics shop will help grow your opportunities with potential clients. Whether your shop is large and has a bigger capacity or is a smaller one better served for niche customers, using your relevant experiences to help garner new business will lead to a roadmap of potential prospects. Consider where your shop will best succeed—whether it be wrapping trailers, luxury vehicles, racecars, buses or custom RVs. Finding an area or niche that fits your unique skill set will best equip you to compete for new business and possibly help you to avoid areas that might already be oversaturated. Embrace Social Media You can increase your shop’s following in the vehicle wraps industry by utilizing a tool that is right in front of you—social media (Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube, etc.). Many shops find that putting in the time and effort to reach their target audiences on social platforms is time well spent. Social media helps you humanize your company, which is a powerful way to create a connection with clients. A popular outlet for professionals in the graphics industry is Facebook. As one of the largest social media plat-

forms, Facebook allows you to set up a business page, while also building a community around your brand. A good rule of thumb to keep in mind is to have 80 percent of your content on social media directed at audience interaction and 20 percent of content reserved for promotional marketing and sales. Manage Your Expanded Operations Developing a growth strategy will also help you improve efficiency and open doors to take on the flow of new customers interested in your services. To keep things running smoothly, outline the logistics for your operational processes, marketing tactics, management, and finances. Quantify the amount of time you and your team should be spending on each wrap or vehicle graphic. Choosing films that install faster and easier is a great way to achieve significant time savings under tight deadlines. While it is tempting to promise a quick turnaround, it is very important to understand your capabilities and the proper materials needed in order to give an accurate timeline projection to each potential customer. Before you agree to any project, it is a good idea to outline the project design time, the cost of materials, and the in-

Identify Your Target Customers To grow any business, reaching new customers is going to be key. Identify your unique market and niche within the industry. Because wrap projects can range from customizing a car’s exterior to installing graphic films on a yacht, it helps to understand who your shop’s target consumer is. While the growth of personalized wraps in recent years has allowed consumers to ramp up their own vehicles, the commercial market also continues to show steady growth. Millions of businesses across the United States use commercial vehicles for branding and promotions. Understanding which target markets

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to happen on occasion, so thorough preparation can help eliminate the hassle that would typically cause stress. Having versatile films in stock can bolster your confidence for tackling car wraps and vehicle graphics. Another investment that can pay off in the long run for your shop is gaining installation accreditation. Earning one or more of these titles will give you a value proposition to promote and many times the organization providing the title will promote your services as well. If you’re not ready for the test, then there are a large variety of installation courses out there to fit various skill levels. Utilizing quality resources like installer training courses can not only save you the headache of redo’s, it can preemptively protect your businesses’ reputation.

Because wrap projects can range from customizing a vehicle’s exterior to installing graphic films on a yacht, it helps to understand your shop’s target consumer.

stallation time. Addressing such wrap details in a contract will help keep you and your customer on the same page throughout the wrap process. Invest in Quality Resources As you grow your business, another way to make sure your shop comes full circle is to take the time to produce quality results the first time around. Choosing the

right films can make a big difference. Reducing wrap redo’s is an important goal to set, no matter the size or scope of your shop. Mishaps can be blamed on a variety of factors. When a business invests in proper training and materials, mishaps can be reduced and the end results will speak for themselves. Unforeseen circumstances are bound

Tim Boxeth is marketing manager at 3M Commercial Solutions (


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A mechanical past inspires the state-ofthe-art present. 22

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All Photos: The Great American Sign Company.

A Moving EXPERIENCE W hen I think of the greatest signs in my lifetime, signage like Vegas Vic with its moving arm welcoming visitors to Las Vegas, or the famous Times Square Camel Cigarettes billboard that blew smoke rings for twentyfive years down Broadway, come to mind. These signs were my inspiration for a mechanical sign I created for this year’s Sign Invitational Competition hosted by MultiCam at the ISA International Sign Expo in Orlando, Florida. For the third year in a row, this competition has brought together award-winning creative sign professionals to show off their talents in front of the 20,000 attendees at the convention. “Marvelous Machines” was this year’s event theme, which gave me the opportunity to create the kind of monumental, awe-inspiring sign I have always wanted to make—just in 1:14 scale. I knew this piece would also make a knockout addition to my showroom. After being invited in October to participate by competition organizers Dan Sawatzky of Imagination Corporation, in Chillawak, British Columbia, and Jim Dawson of Synergy Sign in Canton, Ohio, I was stoked to get started. I had about five months to prepare, and as it turned out, I needed every second of it. It was at this point that I really wish I had paid more attention in physics class because I had no idea how to put together gears, levers, ratchets, pulleys, or cranks to make my idea a reality. I had never worked on a car or repaired a damn thing in my life. Luckily a museum just down the road had a permanent collection of automata (mechanical robots, dolls, toys, and music boxes that can dance, perform tricks, or even draw).

I further researched automata on Google and YouTube, discovering a wealth of information from great, modern-day artists in the U.S. and U.K., like Matt Smith, Philip Lowndes, Rob Ives, Michael Croft, and Dug North. I picked their brains, read their blogs, watched their videos, and even bought a few of their mechanical toys/sculptures to understand how they animated their creations. My idea was to animate my logo and place it on top of a building in the style of nineteenth and early twentieth century factories (many of which can still be seen here in New Jersey). Competition guidelines limited the size to two-bytwo-by-six feet, setting the scale of my creation to 1:14. I researched New York City buildings of this era via the Internet. I was looking for something ornate but easy to mimic. I did not want to spend so much time making the building that there would be no time left for the mechanical sign on top. A building I saw on the corner of 6th Avenue and Waverly Place fit the bill. It was decorative, but all the elements were repeatable (the windows, cornices, and ledge details). I just needed to create one

and repeat however many were required. Rather than exposed brick, the surface was plastered, which would be easier and quicker to carve, paint, and age. I originally planned on the first floor store being my shop (The Great American Sign Shop), but I changed my mind when I realized that this building, in fact, housed the famous Waverly Diner in Greenwich Village. The sign for this restaurant was so typical New York and so compatible with the time era that I didn’t have the heart to change it. The building didn’t require any hand carving; it did though require approximately thirty hours of machine carving using a 1/8-inch-round bit with a 90 percent overlap on my MultiCam 3000 CNC. To get the necessary speed to achieve the quality I was aiming for, I used four different CNC software—ArtCAM, OMEGA, EnRoute, and Vectric. Because this project was not going to be a moneymaker, I made it almost entirely from scrap pieces of CORAFOAM®, Precision Board®, and Sign•Foam® HDU. The building is essentially a rectangular box of HDU reinforced with 1/2-inch MDO. The sides of the building slot into the sidewalk baseplate and are further held together with KOMACEL PVC braces on the inside and a PVC cap that forms the roof. The building was painted with Benjamin Moore® exterior latex paints and aged with glazes. The lettering and graffiti on the walls and doors were printed on a Gerber Edge® and cut out with a Gerber enVision™ plotter. (Note: I would have liked

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Sign Builder Illustrated


To see a video of this sign in action, visit XJuZXgChqlU.

to hand-paint everything, but there just was not enough time.) Once the building was completed, I was free to work on the mechanical mode to be placed above it. Due to time constraints, I kept the mechanics simple. I decided to animate only the eagle’s head and wings and the S-I-G-N letters. The logo, like the building, was carved from HDU with a plywood backer. The most difficult parts to carve were the wings and head. I needed to create a double-sided, fully rounded eagle head from a single-sided 3D image. I achieved this by mirroring the original right-facing artwork and adding a wedge of filler HDU in between and blending together the three pieces through hand carving. The wings required a considerable amount of hand carving, since they both pass below and behind the “American/ Company” banner. It took a considerable amount of reconfiguring of the original artwork and a serious amount of hand carving (with some trial and error

thrown in) to make this part operate as I had envisioned. The S-I-G-N letters also proved to be a tremendous challenge. Unlike the eagle head and wings that could be tinkered with, these four moving letters had to be precisely engineered. The logo was primarily painted with Modern Masters® Metallic paints. The scaffolding holding the sign was naturally aged steel angle (which also served as the framework for the mechanics). The logo is animated by the turning of four axles. The first axle is activated with the turning of a simple hand crank. On that axle is a small gear with just seven teeth that turns a larger gear with twenty-one teeth on the second axle above it. This 1:3 (7:21 teeth) ratio serves to gear down the speed of the main axle. Most people (and especially children) tend to turn the crank way too fast, so this was very important to get the speed of operations where I wanted them. This second axle operates the move-

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ment of the wings by pulling a string with the help of a center crank and gravity. On the other end of the axle is a seventeen-tooth gear that rotates a twenty-one-tooth gear on the third axle, slowing down the operations a bit more with another gear reduction. This third axel turns the four cams, which control the forward and back movements of the S-I-G-N letters. A cam is like a gear but has no teeth. The cam is useful for converting rotational force into an upand-down or forward-and-back action. Essentially these four letters are designed to operate like a push button. Each letter has two dowels connecting it to a push button with a spring in between. Oval-shaped cams each offset from the one next to it by 45 degrees and push the button forward, creating the wave-like forward and back action of the four letters. The final axle at the top operates the turning of the eagle’s head with a fantastic device called a Geneva gear, which al-

lows this axle to reduce speed to just a 1/4 rotation for every turn of the third axle, in turn, reducing the continuous rotation of the third axle to an intermittent one. A center crank in the axle with two springs turns the head back and forth. The mechanics required a lot of tinkering and improvising in order to get every part to operate smoothly and in unison. A little grease, oil, and candle wax—as well as a lot of luck—were important components. Participating in this competition was a really fun and challenging learning experience. I came away with a basic knowledge of mechanics that I can apply to future projects and a kick-ass display for my showroom, along with a lot of great memories and people I had the pleasure of meeting along the way.

Gary Johnson is the owner of The Great American Sign Company in Basking Ridge, New Jersey (

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A one-size-fits-all solution that actually works.


Sign Builder Illustrated

February 2017


Photo: Access Communications.


e have all had to deal with a product advertised as “one size fits all.” Usually we find, when it’s too late to get our money back, that it doesn’t. When the federal government wrote the very first rules for accessible signs, they figured they would make it easy on everyone by just having one size for room identification signs—one size for people who couldn’t see different colors very well, one size for older people with diminishing clarity of vision, one size for people who couldn’t see much of anything (maybe a sliver of light), and one size for people who could actually make out some letters on some signs (depending!). And then, they threw in that same size for signs to direct people around buildings and to give them information about what they could or could not do in those buildings and about how to use various parts of the buildings. Of course, we’re not just talking about size, although that is what is most at stake. Sometimes we’re talking about the darkness and lightness of the letters and background, and sometimes it’s about how shiny the surfaces are. Sometimes, too, it’s about where the signs are mounted—high above your head or maybe just a few feet above the floorboards. Now that I have you thoroughly confused about the rules for ADA signs, let me unravel it a bit and then give you the good news. There is a solution—it’s legal, and it will help you offer really interesting and unique ADA-compliant signs to your customers. First, let’s talk about the original set of rules, called ADAAG. They were pretty simple. You had two choices. Room- and floor-level identification signs all had to be readable by touch, with raised characters and Braille. And they had to do dual duty for those who could see; so the characters had to contrast with the background, and all the surfaces had to

be non-glare. The only rule for the Braille was that it had to be “shorthand Braille,” otherwise known as Contracted or Grade 2 Braille. Outside of California, which had its own Braille font, there were no rules for the size of the dots or the spacing between the dots or the Braille cells. As for the letters, here’s where the mix-up came in. Visual-only text was supposed to allow “simple” types of serif fonts—meaning

the best thing about the new ada standards for accessible design is that “one size fits all” disappears, if you know where to find the right rules. non-decorative serif fonts. Tactile text was supposed to be sans serif. But somehow, some of the rules got switched. The “simple serif” was born, and thousands of unreadable tactile signs were the result. On top of that, the strict rules about stroke widths and character widths meant tactile characters got added to visual characters instead, and other than the requirement for ALL CAPS, most of the important rules for tactile characters were lost. Tactile character size was 5/8-inch minimum and two inches maximum. The only size mentioned for visual charac-

ters was a three-inch minimum for signs mounted eighty inches above the floor. But the result was that architects specified every single sign with 5/8-inch-high characters unless it was 80 inches above the floor, and then all the letters were three inches high—a ridiculous jump from 5/8 to three inches! But most signs were 5/8 inches. How many of you can read a directional sign with 5/8-inchhigh characters across a room? Way back in about 1996, President Bill Clinton convened a committee to update the ADA Standards—and they obviously needed it. Those of us on the working subcommittees set about correcting mistakes and adding some of the things that had been overlooked. We got rid of “simple serifs” for tactile characters and added in stroke and character width requirements. However we were afraid to change too much. We thought it might cause a mutiny, since people were just getting used to the rules. Everything was ready to go, and public hearings and comments were all in place. However the 2000 election changed the plans, and the new standards languished until 2012. The new rules were finally approved and made legal during the Obama administration. The best thing about the new standards, called the 2010 ADA Standards for Accessible Design, is that “one size fits all” disappears, if you know where to find the right rules. The problem is— most people don’t! It is the best-kept ADA sign secret out there, although it’s hidden right in plain sight. As we talked with many legally blind people, it became clear that they fell into two distinct groups—and those two groups needed completely different signs. One group couldn’t see much at all, and they had to read by touch. A small percentage could read Braille, so the rest needed to have tactile characters that were really easy to read. What they July 2018

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Sign Builder Illustrated

July 2018

Besides that, the signs could use upper and lower case, and non-decorative serif styles. That made them easier for more visual users to read—and often more attractive, to boot.

Two-part, dualpurpose ADA signs are more attractive and aid both the blind and visual users. You might think that the two parts all have to be on one sign blank. However, the rule is clear. The characters can be on one sign blank or separated on two signs. It’s too bad that the government speak used for the ADA Standards is pretty

opaque. If you don’t already know this new rule, you might never discover it. The ANSI Standards are actually written so that it is much easier to understand. However if you can unravel the legalese, you’ll see that visual characters have specific rules for font style and character and stroke width as well as minimum character heights, but more importantly, they require high contrast between the characters and their backgrounds, along with nonglare finishes. On the other hand, tactile characters have even more stringent rules for fonts and sizes but no rules at all for contrast or glare. It means repeating the same message twice, but one of those messages can do dual duty as a decorative part of the sign or it can be virtually hidden by having the sign background match the wall covering. Creative sign designers should be having a field day with this rule, and owners who want to solve problems or save money may also find a solution here. For instance, the designer for a very

Photo: Access Communications.

didn’t need was contrast or non-glare surfaces, since those only affect people who can see. We noticed that they preferred to read rounded or beveled and very thin character strokes. Renowned designer Roger Whitehouse, who was designing a system for the Lighthouse for the Blind in New York City, described the preferred fonts as “wire hanger shapes.” They needed a lot of space between letters, as well, and they liked fairly small-sized characters, so they could feel them all at once (just like Braille) rather than trace them. Those letters weren’t very pretty, so Roger asked himself, “Did sighted people need to see them? With that question, the dual-purpose sign was born! Roger designed the new signs for the Lighthouse with two parts. The tactile section was hidden in a decorative part of the sign and the visual part used much larger, bolder characters. The most important thing was that they had really high contrast with their backgrounds and were non-glare.

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Photo: Nova Polymers.

high-end hotel with individual hideaways on paths wending through the grounds wanted visual signs mounted on rustic posts, planted among flowers at each entrance. The doors had glass side-lights. The matching tactile room numbers with Braille are thermoformed on clear acrylic, which is treated to look like the polished glass of the side-lights, and crystal-clear adhesive means the sign looks like part of the glass. On the other end of the economic spectrum, let’s say a school already has easy-to-read visual numbers stenciled on each classroom door. A small plaque with raised numbers and Braille can be painted all one color to match the wall and mounted adjacent to the door. A hotel with high-contrast brass numerals on the doors just needs to add an unobtrusive tactile sign on the wall. Not only are people with disabilities not being short-changed by these signs, but it means far more people with vision-based disabilities can actually read the signs. It also means that we no longer have to accept white-on-blue uppercase Helvetica as a kind of de facto ADA standard. The ADA asks: How can we make our public buildings more usable by the greatest number of people of all ages and abilities? We think the answer lies in many more beautiful two-part, dualpurpose signs.



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Entry-level flatbed printers unlock profitable customization and personalization capabilities. 32

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ustomers are increasingly looking toward unconventional items that are customized or personalized. And the demand for unique items to capture attention and cut through the marketing noise is only likely to increase. As such, print shops with the capability to customize and personalize a diverse array of items in addition to traditional signage stand to capitalize on this boom-

ing demand. There are a number of smaller, entrylevel flatbed printers on the market today that offer sign shops these types of capabilities in addition to high-quality printing on traditional substrates. This class of printer opens up new possibilities and allows sign shops to diversify their offerings beyond traditional substrate printing. The capabilities of these printers give

Photo: Orafol.


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July 2018

LED technology are now allowing for customizations to thinner and heatsensitive materials that were once more difficult to print. “This means you can use lower-cost substrates, utilize less ink, and enjoy energy savings while running a greener operation,” says Hanulec. High-Margin Jobs Adding the capability to print on a broad range of materials and substrates means new opportunities for sign shops to accept highly profitable customization and personalization jobs instead of outsourcing them. Personalization/ customization jobs can prove extremely profitable, repeat business. “These innovations open up a world of unlimited applications and allow shops to take on premium-margin jobs themselves,” says Hanulec. One clear advantage to bringing jobs in-house, according to Gonzalez, is being able to avoid the need to outsource printing on rigid substrates to third parties. “In-house printing also reduces steps in image processing,” he says. “For example, if the shop is creating indoor signage for a directory or map display, printing on a flatbed allows for direct reverse printing without need for any ad-

ditional laminating or image application. It can come off the printer and be immediately attached to its frame.” “This printer class is interesting for prototyping—printing a run of one to get a hard feel for what a product is going to look like,” says Hanulec. “A lot of wide format customers get involved in this type of application.” A Few Ideas The ability to use an entry-level flatbed to print on just about anything that fits under the printer unlocks a nearlimitless list of interesting personalized products sign shops and graphics providers can offer to their customers. Their versatility is only limited by the users imagination. “Award plaques, trophies, secondsurface printing on clear media, luggage tags, pens, and golf balls are some of the endless possibilities,” says Parsley. “We’re also talking custom wallpapering and clings, wall tiles, ceiling panels— all printed inkjet,” adds Hanulec. Beyond promotional items and printed surfaces, this class of printer lends itself to some highly creative and outsidethe-box ideas. “Every time I go somewhere I see

Photos: (left) Mimaki USA; (right, top and bottom) Mutoh America, Inc.

sign shops the power to print on an exceptionally wide variety of non-standard substrates, allowing them to offer beyond-traditional customized and personalized items. “This class of printers can print on flexible or rigid substrates—including exotic materials and irregularly shaped or heavy objects,” says Ken Hanulec, vice president of Inkjet Marketing at Electronics for Imaging, Inc. (EFI). Ken Parsley, product applications engineer at Mutoh America, Inc., comments that these smaller flatbed machines allow users to create a more diverse shop offering. “Shops can now up-sell from standard signage to specialty items. The versatility of these machines offers the ability to produce a multitude of specialty items their customers may need to complete their projects,” he says. “The versatility of the small flatbed printers is in its ability to print onto a wide variety of materials including pre-manufactured goods,” says Hugo Gonzalez, senior applications specialist at Mimaki USA, also citing the ability to now also print on thicker substrates and products. More recent advances in cool-curing


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something new,” says Hanulec. “We have a customer in Brazil who prints directly onto flip-flops, for example. Meanwhile we have a European customer who offers custom-printed corrugated coffins that biodegrade along with you after you pass away.” Changeover from Traditional to Specialized Media This class of smaller, entry-level flatbed printers is designed to be simple to op-

erate, easy to maintain, and capable of changing over easily between traditional jobs and non-traditional substrates. “There isn’t a lot of setup that’s needed to get printing on our small flatbeds,” says Gonzalez. “All of the customization is processed digitally, so there isn’t much that’s uniquely different that would be needed. The only specific requirement is a PC computer to run RIP software.” “Printing on a flat surface is quite easy, but many smaller objects will require building a jig for more efficient production,” says Parsley. “We offer online videos that show the use how to make the jigs and employ them. Most of these devices include or have the option for a rotary attachment for cylindrical objects.” According to Gonzalez, power requirements for smaller flatbeds are fairly simple with a 1-110V power line. “Depending on the current equipment you’re using, regular maintenance may

be a breeze by comparison with a fiveminute daily cleanup,” he says. Closing Thoughts Adding an entry-level flatbed printer to your print shop gives you the flexibility to keep high-margin customization and personalization jobs in-house while continuing to provide quality printing on traditional substrates for signage and graphics. “Many end-users purchase these machines with a specific purpose in mind,” says Parsley. “It is very important that they work with the manufacturer to test their substrates for ink compatibility and adhesion. “This should be done before they purchase a machine.” As demand increases for personalized items—including attention-grabbing specialty materials—sign shops equipped to handle these requests stand to win these interesting and lucrative jobs.

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July 2018

Wide (Format) Options As the technology that enables wide format and signage printing becomes more affordable and accessible for print providers, the line between the two is blurring. Substrate diversity in the wide format space has massively increased this decade, allowing wide format to edge into traditional signage work, encouraging printers to bring both under the same roof. One popular, major technology driving these changes is UV printing. These devices offer fast, lowtemperature curing that plays a vital role in printing directly to thin, flexible, and low-melting-point substrates. This comes at a time when flatbed, roll-fed, and hybrid devices are all

making advances of their own, similarly driving substrate diversity. These evolutions are influencing the market toward even more convergence and consolidation. In addition to being incredibly discerning, today’s print buyers are looking for a one-stop shop where they can take care of all of their needs in one place. If you’re getting flyers, lawn signs, and window clings all from the same provider, you represent a bigger chunk of that company’s business than you would at three separate specialist shops. That gives print buyers leverage they can use to pursue deals on bulk buys or to put the pressure on to make sure jobs come out with pitch-perfect

consistency across all channels. This doesn’t make print buyers and print providers antagonistic; rather it provides an opportunity for them to develop stronger working relationships and a better understanding of one another’s needs and capabilities. As wide format shops expand their signage capabilities and vice versa, tertiary markets, such as packaging, and décor, open up to them. If you’ve already started adding wide format capabilities, you can knock out both tasks and keep the client entirely in-house. To read more, visit —Dan Johansen, marketing manager, Wide Format Solutions, Ricoh USA, Inc.

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( Digital )CULTURE


orporate customers are a superb market for digital signage. It can serve as a funnel that shapes the employee perception of a company while defining an initial customer experience—from their client, guests, visitors, contractors, partners, suppliers, and employees. The benefits of digital signage for a corporation outweigh the costs, and historically, decent-size organizations have an IT department that understands the technology side of things, which can produce a faster sale! This article looks at the four steps to effectively leveraging digital signage for corporate communications. 38

Sign Builder Illustrated

July 2018

Step 1: Initial Perception. The easiest way to make digital signage work for a company is to make the owner see themselves as an employee or someone that walks through your door. Enter the outside door. Figure out where the eyes will be drawn. Consider the information and messages people might need to see as they enter the lobby. You can also ask visitors directly to find out what they are looking for. Figure out what will work best and write down the guest’s needs and the viewing audience. This list can be used for content creation. Step 2: Proper Location. You can set up a single large display or video walls for the lobby. Using larger displays (such

as a sixty-five-inch) in the lobby will create a “wow” factor that amazes patrons while ensuring their messages are seen. The most popular displays for corporate communications range between fortythree to sixty-five inches. For a conference room, ten-inch Android® or Windows® tablets can be mounted outside the room to display meeting times and information. If a company has a diverse group of people with different needs, then having multiple smaller displays might work best. By installing a series of smaller displays (thirty-two to forty-three inches), content can be customized on each display to visually show different sets of information. For example, one digital

Photo: NoviSign Digital Signage.

Four easy steps to deploying digital signage for corporate communications.

directory could list offices and a second could outline general information about the company and weekly meetings lists. Step 3: Software & Optimized Content. Since the lobby is frequently filled with people, the space you have to display information can get crowded. With digital signage, content can be pre-scheduled days in advance. For example, welcome messages for guests can be scheduled to display and expire at specific times. By outlining weekly events and defining what message is most important to display at an assigned time, one can maximize the screens while ensuring the viewing audience is receiving the right information at the right time. When looking for the right digital signage software to use, make sure to select a vendor that has a platform that is easy to use and supports the functions that your client needs. A Cloud-based digital software is an ideal route to take. With the Cloud, one can access the software from any computer at any time when connected

to the Web. From the Web, content changes can be made then wirelessly sent to a sign. Updates typically occur in minutes. In addition to being Cloud-based, make sure the digital signage software has a straightforward interface that includes drag-and-drop widgets. A widget is a feature and could be Slideshows, Weather, Scrolling Text, etc. Full training and support should also be included. Several good rules of thumbs for vetting a company should be quick response time and exceptional support. If a software vendor doesn’t call you back or takes several days to reply to your email, the odds are they won’t provide you with the answers you need. When it comes to support, you should always ask for a quick start guide or videos series on the software. This support will help you better understand the software and get started. Now if a software vendor does call you back and provides support materials, the next question is: how long does it take to understand the software? If it takes you

less than an hour, then you’ve found an excellent platform. If it takes you more than an hour, keep searching. I say this because the average end-user has no more than an hour to learn software. If it’s too complicated, then the end-user will probably not make a purchase. Step 4: Screen Layout & Design. Make sure that digital signage reflects a company’s branding requirements. Whether you use an existing template or create one from scratch, add the organization’s logo and customize the color theme. Make sure that the digital signage also gives a natural feel to the premises. For instance, you can choose warmer display colors if wood furnishings make up a significant part of the lobby. Alternatively a high-tech company can choose a modern minimalist design that is clean. This way, the screen blends in better. Chad Bogan is marketing director at NoviSign Digital Signage. He can be reached at

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July 2018

11/16/16 12:56 PM

Sign Builder Illustrated






he first opportunity to present a positive impression about the relative safety of a hotel or motel property is at the perimeter. Balanced and even exterior lighting—designed to fill the gap between the property boundary and the hotel entrance—is the most important nighttime security feature. Public areas, when bathed in light, are both inviting to the guest and a powerful deterrent to crime. Exterior lighting has three primary functions—safety, security, and ambiance. With sustainability and design now complementing each other, LED luminaires for outdoor general lighting provide a win for everyone. Excluding labor, energy is typically the highest cost that hoteliers face and is the single fastest-growing operating cost in the hospitality industry (source: https://


Sign Builder Illustrated

July 2018 The hospitality industry spends approximately $4 billion a year on energy, with electricity accounting for 60 to 70 percent of the utility costs (source: In the hotel sector, reducing energy costs while continuing to meet the diverse needs of guests, owners, and corporate requirements is challenging but by no means impossible. A large portion of a property’s energy costs is for lighting, representing almost a quarter of all electricity consumed [in a typical hotel]. But it doesn’t have to be that way. Upgrading outdated technology with LED luminaires can reduce electricity use by 50 percent or more (source: According to the Department of Energy (DOE), outdoor area lighting is a major contributor to nationwide energy

Hyatt Regency O’Hare upgrades to exterior LED luminaires.

use, and the market segment has been an important player in the transition to solid-state lighting. Having a parking lot properly illuminated—without dim areas between lamp poles—is key to providing an increased level of security and safety. Better control of light distribution with LED luminaires greatly improves uniformity while minimizing hot spots, glare, and light trespass. In a report by global management consulting firm McKinsey & Company, the LED adoption rate is expected to surge in the hospitality sector to about 80 percent in 2020 (source: As a leading global hospitality company, Hyatt is in the business of caring for people so they can be their best. The company’s purpose defines practices and inspires engagement with guests, colleagues, owners, and neighbors to

Photo: Optec LED Lighting.

Checking In with

build strong communities and foster sustainable environmental practices. In an effort to reduce maintenance and energy costs and provide more uniform exterior illumination, Hyatt Regency O’Hare in Rosemont, Illinois recently completed an LED luminaire upgrade. In a one-for-one replacement, forty-one 120-watt pole-mounted LED luminaires replaced 400-watt metal halide (MH) fixtures in the hotel’s parking lot. Sixteen 30-watt LED wall pack luminaires replaced 100-watt MH fixtures around the exterior of the property. Above the front entrance exterior glass overhang, eight new 80-watt LED luminaires upgraded the 250-watt MH fixtures. The previous MH fixtures would regularly burn out. However, at the cost of $50 to $70 each light plus labor hours, the hotel delayed replacing them until sections were poorly illuminated because they needed to rent a bucket truck to change lights. Unfortunately, as soon as a group of lights were repaired, other fixtures would burn out—the hotel rarely experienced all fixtures working at the same time. Also, as the lights aged, the quality of light decreased causing different color lighting in various areas. “The new LED luminaires deliver consistent illumination and effective color rendering across the property that is inviting and secure for guests,” said Tony Fiore, director of engineering, Hyatt Regency O’Hare. A desire to create a safe environment in the parking lot and around the property, as well as reduce energy costs and consumption, drove the decision to upgrade the exterior lighting. The LED retrofit will reduce energy consumption from 19,795 kWh to 5,160 kWh and is anticipated to achieve a payback in under four years. The hotel also received a $6,000 incentive rebate from ComED®. The parking lot and hotel perimeter are now all evenly illuminated, providing a welcoming and safe environment for guests and employees.

Jeff Gatzow ( is an active member of the Illuminating Engineering Society of North America (IESN) and vice president of Optec LED Lighting.

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July 2018

Sign Builder Illustrated


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Sign Builder Illustrated


Shop Talk


Catching Up with the Times Can technology pass communities by?


ne doesn’t have to look too far to see how technology has changed the face of cities. Ridesharing companies like Uber and Lyft now share space at many airports with taxi cabs, while communities have grappled with regulating Airbnb as it has brought commerce into neighborhoods. Just recently, California announced plans to test a digital license plate, which displays the car tags when the vehicle is in motion. When the car is stopped, the license can display any sort of message— perhaps even advertising. How will this be regulated, compared to, say, vehicle wraps—who knows? Voice-activated technology is already in our homes. Comscore anticipates that, by 2020, half of all online searches will be initiated by voice. So it isn’t too much of a stretch to envision a day when we expect our signs to be voice-

activated. This might be extremely useful in wayfinding, when a person in need of caffeine asks the sign for the nearest coffee shop. Along the way, planners and other local officials will continue to be challenged as our industry and technology changes. Not that long ago, electronic message centers used incandescent bulbs to display time, temperature, and maybe gas prices. Now they use the latest in LED technologies and have the potential to host full-blown video. These sorts of changes can frustrate local officials, who must attempt to write codes that are flexible enough to respond to technology innovations. Communities may tweak codes, but significant overhauls don’t happen very often—and technology can bypass them. That’s why we now see a lot of communities throughout the United States working on revising codes to allow elec-

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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Pricing, Qualified individual working in the sign industry may request a free subscription. Non-qualified subscriptions Print version, Digital version, Both Print & Digital versions: 1 year US/Canada/Mexico $50.00; foreign $99.00. Single Copies are $15.00 ea. Subscriptions must be paid for in U.S. funds only.

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Sign Builder Illustrated

July 2018

COPYRIGHT © Simmons-Boardman Publishing Corporation 2018. All rights reserved. Contents may not be reproduced without permission. For reprint information, contact: Arthur Sutley, Publisher (212) 620-7247 or

tronic message centers. Communities that already have allowed them may be easing restrictions. There are a couple of reasons for this: businesses and community groups see the value in this type of signage, and ISA-produced research helps guide the way. The ISA’s Night-time Brightness Level Recommendations for On-Premise Electronic Message Centers provides guidance to help communities understand how to properly regulate these signs and includes sample legislative language. It also helps them know how to measure sign brightness, ensuring that everyone is abiding by the rules. To date, more than 200 communities and several states have adopted these recommendations in whole or in part. The ISA works closely with the Sign Research Foundation to develop projects that help communities understand the importance of our industry’s products, the technological changes, and how to navigate them, as well as produce research that helps you understand how these changes in technology may impact your company and the industry. We team up to provide education for planners and local officials throughout the country. Change can be hard to get a handle on. But when we work together, we can help reduce some of the bumps that change inevitably brings.

As technology grows, it’s important to help communities navigate these changes.

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: Indigo Signworks.




SIGNAGE MAGAZINE! 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 (, newsletters, Buyer’s Guide, and digital edition keep you updated with timely news, recent projects, and upcoming industry events.





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