Sign Builder March 2020

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M A R C H 2020 | S I G N S H O P.CO M




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VOL. 34

NO. 297


18 22


By Tai Freligh A scale-model hotel for a big-time model train exhibit.


By Bob Egan Don’t get lost when developng wayfinding signs.



By Jim Hingst Characteristics of highly effective salespeople.


4 6

Cover Photo: Mike Kuhn.

10 50 52


Company culture tends to be a trendy topic in general conversation, and Jeff Wooten looks at how workplace harassment fits into this environment.


Lamar lights up airport installs with LED, 3D printing on display at the Smithsonian, OLED Wave mesmerizes convention spectators, and a thirdgeneration owner takes the helm.


The newest products and services from sign manufacturers.


Advertisements and announcements from the sign trade.


Compensation and commission: Jim Hingst talks about rewarding the salespeople at your shop.


30 34 38 42




By Ashley Bray Environmental graphics are now in demand.


By Maura Keller The latest in Wrapabull projects.


By Jeff Wooten Halo-lit letters and signage make a statement.


By Ashley Bray The dynamic capabilities of today’s projectors are pushing the possibilities.


By Jeff Wooten Getting sold on some of the different types of point-of-purchase displays. March 2020

Sign Builder Illustrated


March 2020, Vol. 34, No. 297 Sign Builder Illustrated (ISSN 0895-0555) print, (ISSN 2161-0709) digital is published by Simmons-Boardman Publishing Corporation

Subscriptions: 800-895-4389


President and Chairman Arthur J. McGinnis, Jr. Publisher Arthur J. Sutley 88 Pine Street, 23rd Floor, New York, NY 10005 212-620-7247 ; Fax: 212-633-1863


Editor Jeff Wooten 323 Clifton Street, Suite #7, Greenville, NC 27858 212-620-7244 Managing Editor Ashley Bray 212-620-7220 Contributing Writers Bob Egan, Tai Freligh, Jim Hingst, Maura Keller


Art Director Nicole D’Antona Graphic Designer Hillary Coleman


Corporate Production Director Mary Conyers


Circulation Director Maureen Cooney


Publisher/West Coast Sales Arthur J. Sutley 212-620-7247 Associate Publisher/Mid-West Sales Jeff Sutley 212-620-7233 Integrated Account Manager/East Coast & Canada David Harkey 212-620-7223 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

March 2020



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March 2020 MARCH 31-APRIL 3:

Digital Signage Expo 2020 will be on full display at the Las Vegas Convention Center in Las Vegas, Nevada. (

April 2020 APRIL 1-4:

ISA International Sign Expo is happily headed to the Orange County Convention Center in sunny Orlando, Florida. (

Your Company Culture?

May 2020

The harassment definition is evolving.


Sign Builder Illustrated

March 2020

But in smaller and mid-size sign shops (particularly those outside a corporate structure), how important is the owneremployee dynamic? Radomski posed a quick pop-up survey during her Webinar about what defines the anonymous attendees’ workplace culture. Now this was very unscientific, but it shouldn’t be a surprise that core values, history, industry norms, and family ownership registered at the top while location, hierarchy, and specific attire were stuck at the bottom. Should I be surprised language and celebrations were also options (but as an introvert, maybe I shouldn’t)? You can be forgiven for feeling that the word “culture” has been obnoxiously hijacked and weaponized by social media keyboard warriors set up on extreme opposite sides of the political spectrum. Yet while I feel the Internet doesn’t hold as much sway as it thinks it does, culture does play a role in the real world—particularly in retaining employees. If you feel your work culture is headed down the wrong path to harassment claims, Radomski pointed out U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) recommended training in antiharassment compliance, workplace civility, and bystander intervention.


MAY 3-7:

LightFair International, the world’s largest annual architectural and commercial lighting tradeshow and conference, casts its shine at the Las Vegas Convention Center in Las Vegas, Nevada. (

June 2020 JUNE 11-13:

It’s time for SEGD 2020 Conference Experience Portland to take place at the Hyatt Regency in Portland, Oregon. (

JUNE 11-13:

Shake, rattle, and roll at the Texas Sign Association’s Sixtyseventh annual Conference being held at the Horseshoe Bay Resort in Horseshoe Bay, Texas. (

JUNE 24-25:

Photo: Shutterstock/ Jacob Lund.


hen the words “workplace harassment” are mentioned, many minds probably gravitate toward those of the sexual connotation, particularly with today’s #metoo movement. However some states have opened up the definition of what now constitutes harassment and how companies should address it. The International Sign Association has been hosting a series of Webinars devoted to the different areas of harassment. I wanted to learn more about this topic, so I recently signed up for one hosted by Kelly Radomski, director of Education & Workforce Development at Compass Business Solutions, Inc., devoted to tips and strategies to empower all employees to stop and address harassing behaviors. I was very surprised to learn that a few of the risk factor traits related to harassment now include: a homogenous workforce, a young workforce, the encouragement of alcohol consumption, isolated workspaces, employees not conforming to workplace norms, cultural/language differences, and inappropriate discussions inside and outside of the office. If you recognize any of those at your company, then you might want to pay a little more attention to this subject. It goes without saying that the sign industry is one that’s steeped in history and tradition and, in some corners, one hesitant to change its ways. Sure shop owners adopt new materials and new technologies—as long as they still lead to the same profitable end-results.

The Midwest Sign Association’s MSA Summer Meeting heats up at the Residence Inn and Emerald Event Center, Avon, Ohio. (

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TLANTA, GEORGIA - Commissioned by the Airports Division of Lamar Advertising and integrated by VIA Technology, award-winning LED visualization solutions provider NanoLumens installed four direct-view LED display solutions in San Antonio International Airport in Texas. The project includes a flat-panel display above the B-Side entrance to the baggage claim zone, a column wrap within the baggage claim zone, and a ribbon display above the TSA checkin area. The fourth and final display of the project is a quatrefoil (a four-lobed geometric shape central to the culture and brand of San Antonio) overlooking the TSA check-in area. These locations 6

Sign Builder Illustrated

March 2020

were chosen because they are well lit and highly trafficked. According to Michael Neck, an Airport Project Manager for Lamar, after winning the advertising rights to the airport, Lamar Airports committed to a sweeping overhaul of the location’s signage. “During the acquisition of new airports or renovations on current contracts with our airport partners, Lamar always seeks to find digital advertising opportunities that complement the airport aesthetics, enhance the passenger experience, and deliver great opportunities for local and national advertisers to get their messages to their clients,” said Neck. Michael Villa, Regional Business De-

velopment Manager at project integrator VIA Technology, gives some more insight into the objectives of the project. “The goal was to showcase San Antonio’s ability to move forward into the future with technology and to include advertising along with that,” he said. “The signs that previously filled the space gave an empty and plain feel, but LEDs offer much greater clarity and customization.” Airports typically feature high levels of ambient light, and San Antonio International is no exception. When asked about how such light levels affect signage, NanoLumens Regional Sales Manager Eric Siegler noted, “It’s important for airport passengers and advertisers that passengers have access to clearly visible


Photo (“3D Printing...”): Carolyn Thome/SIE.

Lamar’s digital advertising complements the airport aesthetics, enhances the passenger experience, and delivers great advertising opportunities.

nage so that signage needs to be able to stand out even when an environment is filled with sunlight. LED is really the only solution bright enough to do this, so it was the right technology for what Lamar and the airport were trying to accomplish.” Each of the four displays integrated during the project features a 2.5mm pixel pitch, and all are used almost exclusively for advertising content. The specific locations for each display were chosen because they are high-traffic areas where passengers also exhibit high dwell times. The rectangular flat-panel display measures 14.96 feet wide-by-5.91 feet high and a resolution of 1824-by-720. The column wrap is 6.44 feet tall


with an exterior circumference of 11.86 feet. Its resolution is 1440-by780, though the full surface area of the display is obviously not viewable in its entirety from a single location. The ribbon display is 33.07 feet wide and 2.46 feet high with a resolution of 4032-by-300. The quatrefoil display measures 5.51 feet wide by 5.41 feet high with a resolution of 672-by-660. “These are some of the most complex displays in the city, so VIA Technology was grateful for the opportunity to work on this project and to be included as a premier technology installer in San Antonio,” added Villa.

UWANEE, GEORGIA — Mimaki USA recently worked with the Smithsonian to place its Mimaki 3DUJ-533 full-color 3D printer in the Smithsonian Exhibits’ (SIE) studios, located in Landover, Maryland (and part of the Smithsonian Institution). The 3D printer will be used to aid educational, science, research, art, and cultural exhibits and experiences. “This printer will enable the Smithsonian to use new technologies to produce exhibits in new ways, particularly for creating models and tactile elements [for low-vision or blind visitors] that help bring exhibits to life for all visitors,” said Josh Hope, Senior Manager, 3D Printing & Engineering Projects, at Mimaki USA. The SIE team has embarked on its first project to use the Mimaki 3DUJ553 printer, which is to create fullcolor, 3D-printed models of viruses that are enlarged with great detail for hands-on engagement with visitors in the Outbreak: Epidemics in a Connected World exhibition currently on view at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History. The image below shows the influenza virus model, created using the Mimaki 3DUJ-553 3D printer, in an opened position. The clear disk that contains the eight purple capsids and the eight yellow RNA strands has been removed from the green envelope.

For more information about NanoLumens, visit March 2020

Sign Builder Illustrated


IN THE INDUSTRY The awe-inspiring LG OLED Wave.





AS VEGAS, NEVADA — LG Electronics continued a celebrated tradition at this past January’s Consumer Electronics Show (CES) held annually in Las Vegas. The company’s LG OLED Wave welcomed visitors into their massive CES booth. Awe-inspiring Wave and Fountain installations featured 200-plus flat, curved, and rollable LG OLED screens, demonstrating the company’s innovation. Constructed with an array of flexible openframe commercial displays from LG Business Solutions, the show-stopping installation demonstrated LG OLED’s picture and flexibility. The colossal and captivating LG OLED Wave was made up of 200 55-inch LG OLED digital signage screens (128 convex and concave and 72 flat). Measuring twenty feet high and eightytwo feet wide, the exhibit immersed CES attendees in a breathtaking journey of discovery, displaying the glory of the natural world as it has never been seen before. From the raw power of the oceans to the birth of the Aurora Borealis in the northern sky, LG OLED Wave filled the senses with images and sound that sur-


Sign Builder Illustrated


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round, transporting the audience to some of the most memorable natural events and locations on Earth. Booth visitors even experienced what it was like to walk beneath the ocean’s waves. They also marveled at The Fountain, a hero zone that featured a moving performance from unique sixty-five-inch LG OLED rollable displays. The Fountain wowed visitors with a synchronized performance from twenty of LG’s groundbreaking rollable OLED TVs in an entertaining, choreographed sequence. These LG OLED installations are a testament to the company’s digital signage technology leadership and its power to innovate and amaze. Display experts agree that LG OLED is the most evolved display technology on the planet, delivering stunning pictures with absolute blacks and incredible contrast from any vantage point. Self-lighting pixels, which can be turned on and off individually, help make images incredibly lifelike. Without the need for a backlight, LG OLED displays are extremely lightweight and thin, allowing for TVs that can be mounted perfectly flush to the wall or made flexible enough to be rolled up like a poster.

AT E R TO W N , S O U T H DAKOTA — Founded in 1965, wholesale sign provider ESCO Manufacturing recently embarked on another ownership transition within the Stein Family. Clint Stein started the business and eventually sold it to his son, Mark Stein (below, left). Having owned and operated the business since 1988, Mark retired after a tenure of forty years, and his son Stuart Stein (below, right) is the new owner. When asked what he feels has been his biggest accomplishment over the last forty years, Mark indicated expanding ESCO’s product lines to include steel and aluminum custom shape cabinets, pan and flex faces, and channel letters, among other sign options. One of the biggest challenges Mark sees for the next generation is adapting to the rapid changes in the sign industry as a result of new technology and global competition. Stuart has worked at ESCO for almost six years. “I’m looking forward to the challenge of carrying on the legacy of Clint and Mark,” he says. “ESCO has become a fixture within the sign industry and is known for producing a quality product, thanks in large part to our loyal and tenured staff. Expanding ESCO’s market share will be one of my top priorities.”

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Classic BannerFrame from Lind SignSpring Conquers Metal Siding

Turn to the Hot Shot for Vehicle Wrapping

Are you faced with trying to figure out how to hang a banner onto ribbed metal s i d i n g ? We l l worry no more! Every sign pro knows the challenge and difficulty of installing banners and signage on ribbed metal siding surfaces, but only Lind SignSpring’s BannerFrame, with its lightweight simplicity, enables easy banner installs with durability, perfection, and easy change-outs! Developed and proven on billboards in extreme Great Lakes conditions, the Lind SignSpring BannerFrame is unequalled—from the smallest P-O-P banner displays to the largest urban wallscapes and billboards. Engineered spring and hook technology means that there are no cables, grommets, tracks, or tension rods. Constant and even tension provides a permanent signage solution while enabling easy graphic change-outs. There is really no simpler or better technique for fabric graphic installation.

Speed up the removal and/ or installation of vinyl vehicle wraps, color changes, and restylings thanks to the Hot Shot infrared pre- and post-heating unit from Image One Impact, a manufacturer and supplier of high-quality products for the sign, graphics, and vehicle wrap industries. The company understands its customers’ challenges and helps them by providing cost-saving solutions, such as this infrared heating unit. The Hot Shot lamp is constructed with a 1000-watt short wave halogen bulb, providing instant-on heat. Its eighteen-inch head can be moved vertically or horizontally thanks to a spring-loaded pin. The Hot Shot unit comes with an easy-to-adjust up or down rolling stand. Larger casters are new for enhanced mobility. Meanwhile an adjustable timer can be set up for heating upwards to sixty minutes max. Make your vinyl statements stick to the surfaces that you want with the Hot Shot!

LED MODULES/TUBES/STRIPS Principal LED Shines an (LED) Light on Four New Products LED lighting manufacturer Principal LED, which serves the industry via distributors across North America, started the New Year off strong with four new product launches. These new product offerings consist of Street Wrap Flex Back-Bend and Side-Bend (pictured), as well as Qwik Mod Mini 1 and 2. Street Wrap Flex is a great new border solution with neon appeal and LED savings! It is offered in standard colors (6500K, red, blue, and green) and RGB. Custom colors are available upon request. Flex is covered by Principal LED’s 5&5 warranty (Five-Year Product/Five-Year Limited Labor). Meanwhile Qwik Mod Mini 1 and 2 are the newest additions to Principal’s popular Qwik Mod module series, a line that provides better coverage with a wider optic. These new Qwik Mod module designs provide more versatility for shallow channel letters.


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SIGN SHOW DIGITAL SIGNS/EMCS/VIDEO DISPLAYS Watchfire Signs is Fired Up to Offer a Scholarship Recognizing Graduating High School Seniors Watchfire Signs, a manufacturer of LED virtual scoreboards and video boards, is offering the Fired Up Watchfire Scholarship, which will provide $500 in financial assistance to a graduating high school senior who demonstrates excellence in creating and using digital content on a Watchfire sports video or scoreboard display during a live event. Schools install Watchfire video displays and virtual scoreboards to entertain fans, increase sponsorship revenue, and provide learning experiences for students. Indoor and outdoor display models can be used in any stadium or sports facility to engage fans and deliver a professional-quality sports experience. Eligible content must be created by the applicant and displayed on an indoor or outdoor Watchfire sports display between January 1, 2019 and April 1, 2020. Submissions can be static graphics, animations, videos, crowd prompts, advertisements, or any other content that creates fan engagement. The deadline to apply is April 17, 2020, and the winner will be announced in May. “We are looking for students who make a positive impact on school pride with their ability to 'fire up' players, fans, students, and the community using the school’s video display or virtual scoreboard at events,” said Mary Ellen Fricke, sports marketing lead at Watchfire Signs. “We’ve noticed an increase in schools integrating the displays into the curriculum, enabling students to learn video production, design, and content management skills. This provides real-world experience to students, and we want to recognize that effort.”

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Sign Builder Illustrated

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SIGN SHOW FABRICS Fisher Textiles Boosts F7 Lineup with Nirvana Purity Innovative Soft Signage Fabric Fisher Textiles has announced the addition of DD 4420 Nirvana PurityŽ to its F7 Certified fabric lineup for direct sublimation printing. DD 4420 Nirvana Purity is a treated version of Fisher’s award-winning GF4020; it is also a breakthrough soft signage fabric with a pigment coated white-back for complete opacity. This premium product gives a two-in-one solution for printable fabric with a built-in liner and a finished back, providing cost savings in material and labor. Nirvana Purity has a wide range of uses for indoor and outdoor retail advertising and tradeshow exhibit environments. It is ideal for hanging banners and is especially advantageous in double-sided SEG applications where one side is intended for backlit and the other frontlit. The opacity of the coated back encloses and reflects the light within the frame to illuminate backlit graphics to a greater extent than other lined SEG fabrics. It has a slight stretch in each direction, which enables a tight, smooth fit in framing systems. The fabric is 126 inches wide, maximizing production efficiency and expanding usage options for large-scale applications. It weighs 9.5 oz/yd2 and is flame retardant.

March 2020

Sign Builder Illustrated


SIGN SHOW SERVICE TRUCKS/CRANES NCCCO: Raising the Bar for Worksite Safety Raising the Bar is a new 165-page hardcover publication from the National Commission for the Certification of Crane Operators (NCCCO) documenting the evolution of the organization from its deep roots in the industry in the mid-1980s to the global leader in certification that it is today. Raising the Bar tells the story of how the vision of a safer workplace through professional credentialing was conceived and nurtured into reality. Most importantly, however, it documents how NCCCO’s relentless commitment to quality is continuously manifested in practice today and what lies behind the organization’s adherence to the highest levels of integrity and professionalism that have led to it being regarded as the Gold Standard of personnel certification. Each of the book’s fifteen chapters focuses on a key element central to the foundation on which NCCCO programs have been built. Born of a vision that worksite safety could be improved through comprehensive training and testing of crane operators, NCCCO has expanded its range of certification programs over the years to embrace the many roles and responsibilities of those working in construction as well as other work environments, and in a variety of industries. Raising the Bar was produced with the generous financial assistance of the following companies and organizations: Manitowoc, Morrow, NationsBuilders Insurance Services (NBIS), Specialized Carriers & Rigging Association (SC&RA), and Terex.

Not just Not just Not just Not just

Not just Not just Not just Not just

All the capabilities, resources and solutions to help your business grow. With one of the industry’s most expansive portfolios of sign solutions, Gemini is more than just a manufacturer. We’re your partner in providing everything you need to deliver quality to your customers while addressing their unique and evolving challenges. Find out more about our products, tools and expertise. 1.800.538.8377 Visit us at ISA Sign Expo® 2020, Booth #4500 ©2020 Gemini Incorporated


Sign Builder Illustrated

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SIGN SHOW DIGITAL SIGN/EMC/VIDEO DISPLAYS Groundbreaking LG 0.44mm Bezel LCD Video Wall is Seamless LG Business Solutions USA has introduced two new 55-inch LCD video wall panels that feature a 0.44mm bezel for virtually seamless video wall installations and a new embedded Smart Calibration tool that drastically reduces both installation and maintenance time. The 55SVH7F Even Bezel Video Wall combines LG’s leading IPS technology with the new automated Smart Calibration tool, while the 55SVH7PF adds an external power box with a 197-foot range and redundant, hot-swappable power supplies ideal for mission-critical environments where absolute stability is required. The panel’s unprecedented razorthin bezels enable depiction of content without any distortions, and each panel features a 178-degree viewing angle for excellent visibility from any direction or distance. The panel also includes an image improvement algorithm that can adjust the appearance of objects on the bezel boundaries to reduce image gaps among tiled displays when playing videos. LG’s Smart Calibration tool, which uses an embedded light sensor and calibration chipset to measure each panel’s brightness and color reproduction, automatically makes adjustments to ensure uniformity across all panels.

March 2020

Sign Builder Illustrated


SIGN SHOW VINYL/VINYL FILMS Get Rewarded with LexJet’s New Online Loyalty Program For over twenty-five years now, LexJet, an S-One company headquartered in Sarasota, Florida, has been dedicated to building long-term relationships with its customers through total convenience and personal customer service for its vast line of digital color imaging products. With this in mind, the company is pleased to announce that it has launched LexJet Edge, its new loyalty rewards program that allows customers to earn points on purchases made online; in turn, those points accumulate and can be redeemed as money off future purchases. Once registered for LexJet Edge, customers will receive one point for every dollar they spend on But the rewards don’t stop there! LexJet Edge members will also receive: Early access to video content and podcasts, early registration for Webinars and events, special promotions and discounts, free ICC Profile Libraries, and unlimited technical support. "LexJet Edge gives us a way to say 'thank you' [to our customers] for their loyalty and offer them some special incentives to stay connected with LexJet," explains Justin Lohman, vice president of S ales at LexJet. (800) 453-9538;

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March 2020

SIGN SHOW VINYL/VINYL FILMS/SUPPLIES FDC Graphic Films Introduces an Ultra-Metallic Cast Vinyl FDC Graphic Films, Inc., has launched LuminaŽ 3710, a new premium cast vinyl film for use in general signage, RV, and marine applications, automotive aftermarket graphics, and striping. This series provides dynamic graphic accents due to its large metal flakes, high surface gloss, and exceptional color depth. Conformability for Lumina 3710 includes compound curves, flat surfaces, and simple curves. The new four-mil film is offered in nine colors (red, white, black, orange, raspberry, teal, royal purple, bubble gum, and onyx) with more on the way. Standard rolls are available in fifteen-inch to sixty-inch widths. Outdoor durability is two years, as is its shelf life. Processing techniques include computer cut, steel rule, thermal die, flatbed, and sheetable, along with cold lamination. Lumina 3710 is also available in 12-by-12-inch standard size sheets as part of FDC’s sheeting program, which is ideal for craft and do-it-yourself projects. Founded in 1988, FDC is one of the sign-making industry's leading converter and suppliers of sign vinyl films, digital media, overlaminates, banners, and heat transfer films with warehouses and converting facilities located in both South Bend, Indiana and Reno, Nevada.

March 2020

Sign Builder Illustrated




All Aboard HDU! A scale-model hotel for a big-time model train exhibit.


Sign Builder Illustrated

March 2020

B&T Model Railroad Building and Design Works is owned and operated by partners Bob Nunn and Tom Pantuso, who are joined by Tom’s son, Jeremy Pantuso (the company’s lead fabricator). Their attention to detail and creative 3D-modeling capabilities has led them to commissions from the Texas State Railroad Society, as well as Texas & Pacific Railroad historian, author, and model railroader Michael Coyne. This latest addition was donated by the Sanders family and made possible by the current hotel owners, G. Brint Ryan and his wife Amanda. After seventy-five years of decay and decline, the couple set about renovating and fully restoring the iconic hotel’s rich history, beautiful nineteenth century Art Deco facade, and interior opulence. The model would fill a void in the layout where the operating controls and transformers used to be located. B&T Model Railroad began the long journey in February 2019, scaling down

the iconic West Texas hotel using the original architecture plans, on-site surveys, and Tom’s skills in creating exact 3D models from sight. The model itself was constructed using SLS 3D printing, mold and resin casting, CNC machining, and old-fashion craftsmanship. Tom and his team first tried out wood

At six feet in height, the Precision Board Hotel Settles stands tall in TrainTopia.

Photo: B&T Model Railroad Building and Design Works.


he Hotel Settles opened back in 1930 in Big Spring, Texas. At the time, it was the tallest building between El Paso and Fort Worth. Today a 1:32 G-Scale model of the Hotel Settles stands tall as a part of TrainTopia, a million-dollar permanent, year-round model train exhibit at The Museum of the American Railroad in Frisco, Texas. The TrainTopia set piece is billed as a “railroad odyssey in miniature,” and it incorporates many area landmarks. The combination of creativity, technology, and materials made a fitting “odyssey” in bringing the Hotel Settles replica to life. Designed and built by B&T Model Railroad Building and Design Works, LLC of Keller, Texas, the beautifully detailed, six-foot-tall Hotel Settles model replicates the hotel’s 150 rooms, restaurant, and pharmacy and rises majestically above the busy streetscape of TrainTopia.

HOW TO CNC | BY TAI FRELIGH & JEFF WOOTEN to build the incredibly detailed replica but found it too hard. Plastic and MDF posed their own problems, and hardware store foam didn’t possess a high enough density. He ended up turning to Precision Board HDU because he knew it would be able to handle the intricate details (substrates, walls, and façade) without going through thousands of bits. Tom regularly uses 3D modeling software (SketchUp and Blender) and converts that into 3D printing using SLS machines. But in order for a project of this size to remain cost-effective, he also had to use their BobsCNC router kit to accurately cut out the nearly 500-plus pieces required to duplicate the incredibly detailed Art Deco, brick walls, and ornamental features of the hotel. “Because we had so many intricate pieces to cut, it took us about four months on the CNC alone,” said Tom. “We used several different router bit sizes—including 1/4, 1/2-, and 3/8-inch—on the Precision Board.” They broke the overall model apart into different sections to make it easier to build. The brick work was done using either a 1/64-bit or 1/32-bit. Plexiglas holds the interior together. Jeremy Pantuso likens these long Plexiglas backing rods and beams to the Fortress of Solitude from Superman: The Movie. “It’s like a crystal cave back there,” he laughed. “It’s all held up by Super Glue.” Tom also incorporated the use of mold making and resin casting to create the more than 300 windows and doors that encompass the hotel. He used PBLT-15 Precision Board HDU to make the castings and molds for the door frame and windows. It was also used for the exterior of the building. “I used Precision Board on the CNC machine to make the original casting for the rubber molds that I would then cast the windows and doors from using plastic resins from Smooth Cast,” he said. The Art Deco routing took Tom’s team four to five months to achieve, mostly because of the precision of detail needed (and the fact that Tom didn’t want to rush the cutting process). LED lighting, combined with relays 20

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and independent power supplies, bring life to the Hotel Settles’ interior and exterior windows, floodlights, ceiling lamps, and wall sconces. The model’s 12-volt lighting system works both independently and in conjunction with the exhibits own state-of-the-art lighting

system. A timing system set up inside the model manages their blinking during the day and their continuous use at night. Jeremy created the miniature exterior signs on the model using LED electroluminescent wires looped around framework, creating an old-style neon look. He

HOW TO CNC | BY TAI FRELIGH & JEFF WOOTEN also dipped the glass globe exterior lights in Shellac to give those an amber look. He also made a maintenance hatch on the back side of the hotel out of MDF board held in place with wingnuts. This gives them easy access to service or replace any interior lighting down the road.

Exterior shadow boxes were created for each of the individual rooms featuring various scenery inside. B&T Railroad had a professional photographer take pictures at every possible angle of all the rooms at the actual hotel to help them recreate the look. They modified and

printed each photo out, attaching them to the back of the shadow boxes. Because the museum also hosts scavenger hunts for local schoolchildren, they even placed some surprises in some of the rooms— old comic books, cows, the Ryans, etc. Tom’s team painted the urethane foam using regular primer, while Fort Worth artist Angie Clover provided the handpainted finishing touches, making the Precision Board HDU its own “living, breathing thing.” Clover works for a theater company and is used to larger-scale productions; however this piece was more detailed than she was typically accustomed to, requiring her to bring out reader glasses and a large magnifying glass. Angie used five colors for the bricks (avoiding flat colors altogether). She sent Tom samples to see how they would look in different changing lights. She also lightened up the concrete pieces, figuring they were too dark or gothic looking. “I also painted some aging techniques on some of the windows to make them look dirty,” she said. Even after using the lighter weight Precision Board, the Hotel Settles replica still weighs 250 pounds. So B&T Railroad assembled it off-site and loaded it onto a covered trailer for the trip to Traintopia where a couple of their installers successfully moved it into place without breaking anything. Two MDF boards on the bottom act as the base to give it support. After nearly ten months of research, design, fabrication, and detailing, the creative team at B&T Model Railroad delivered the Hotel Settles in early November. It will remain a permanent feature of the 2,500-square-foot TrainTopia exhibit. In fact, according to Tom, there was an unintended side effect from adding the model of the Hotel Settles to the TrainTopia display. “The hotel looks so good that it’s making the other buildings look like cardboard boxes. So we’ll be going back later and upgrading some of the other buildings using Precision Board,” he said. To view more photos, be sure to visit

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Sign Builder Illustrated



Designing Effective Wayfinding Signage Don’t get lost when developing wayfinding signs.


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March 2020

easy, and seamless. After all, if your wayfinding signage steers your customers, clients, or other visitors in the wrong direction, they may become frustrated enough to totally give up on your business. We’re not making this up—survey data is out there showing that absent or unclear signage may deter up to 60 percent of potential customers from interacting with a company.

Signage should also be consistent in its appearance across multiple physical locations and/or placements within a single location so your client’s customers never question their branding. With wayfinding signage, there are several other design best practices to consider beyond these essential points, as well.

Best Design Practices for Wayfinding Signage The rules for designing effective wayfinding signs—whether located in a business’s interior spaces or in parking areas, along walkways, or other outdoor places—are much the same as they are for designing effective business signage of any type. Great [wayfinding] signs need to use the client’s logo appropriately; be constructed from durable, premium-grade materials; and have high visibility and legibility, above all else.

All Photos: Egan Sign.


deally wayfinding signage does just what its name implies—it helps you find your way. For example, think about road signs that direct us which way to turn off the highway to reach a point of interest. My company recently designed and worked on such an exterior wayfinding sign project to help customers at a nearby First Priority Bank locate different banking services on the property. Careful design goes into creating the most effective wayfinding signs, especially those found in retail, healthcare, financial services, and other customercentric businesses that we love to work with here at Egan Sign. According to the International Sign Association, wayfinding signs need to allow users “to find their way, using information provided along the travel path.” We might add that in customer servicefocused business settings, wayfinding signage should make this process quick,

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Understand Your Customers and Their Needs Going back to our wayfinding signage for First Priority Bank, we wanted to point out, in some of the signage, two of the most important features customers will be seeking at a retail banking location—the ATM and the bank’s lobby. However it’s important to remember when designing wayfinding signage for your client that their customers’ priorities may be drastically different when they visit them—depending on their industry and the physical locations’ primary purposes. Is the business a retail store? Retail wayfinding signage is potentially the most complex type there is. This signage must entice their customers to make purchases, but it cannot overwhelm them with choice overload. At the same time, they need to be able to find the items they came to buy without feeling lost or confused.

Incorporate Landmarks Placing wayfinding signage where people’s eyes are already naturally drawn may sound obvious, but many businesses miss opportunities to locate signs where they fit best. For instance, consider where a customer or visitor’s attention will be focused as they walk through the front door. Incorporate a directional sign directing them to the reception desk, for instance, right at that point. Consider Dimensionality A newer trend—especially in retail wayfinding—is incorporating signage traditionally used on building exteriors as high-impact, three-dimensional interior features. Channel letters and awnings are examples of popular choices that can actually become wayfinding landmarks in and of themselves.

Conclusion Designing the best and most effective signage for a business or campus can be extremely difficult for graphic artists who are not experienced with large-scale signage design. In fact, choosing an inexperienced sign designer is one of the biggest sign management mistakes business leaders can make. This goes for wayfinding signs, as well as any physical branding assets. Put your client at ease by assuring them your shop has the know-how and is capable of handling the job.

Bob Egan is the founder of Egan Sign (, a sign company in Wyomissing, Pennsylvania. He brings over twenty-five years of experience in the industry for a unique blend of manufacturing, marketing, sales, and management in the company.


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March 2020



Selling Graphics


et’s face it: Finding a topnotch salesman is difficult. Because they are in short supply, the demand is high. If you are running a smaller business, you must compete with larger companies that can offer a generous benefit package, paid expenses, and a comfortable salary. If you want to keep a good salesman, you will need to treat them right and give them the opportunity to make a great living. In conducting an interview, you need to make judgments about the personality of your prospective employee. Fortunately there are some characteristics to look for during this process: Charisma. Some people have a naturally charming, likeable, and charismatic personality. These qualities are difficult to define and certainly cannot be quantified. They are, however, easy to recognize when you encounter someone with these characteristics.


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Confidence. Selling is not for snowflakes. Great salespeople believe in themselves, their company, and their abilities to provide prospective customers with unique business solutions and value. I can instruct salespeople about the technical aspects of vinyl graphics design, manufacturing, and installation. I can teach them how to conduct a fleet graphics survey or needs appraisal. Yet I can’t teach confidence. It is an inherent personality characteristic. The best that you can do is to provide your employees with encouragement. In interviewing sales candidates, the type of personality that you should look for in a salesperson is one that is selfassured without being arrogant, pushy, or obnoxious. Perseverance. Salespeople usually experience a great deal of rejection. Successful salespeople don’t take rejection personally and can get up off the ground after losing a sale to a competitor and

move on to the next opportunity. Great salespeople also discipline themselves to follow up on opportunities. If a candidate hasn’t developed a good follow-up procedure for himself, they’ll likely let several opportunities slip between the cracks. Competitiveness. Successful sales people generally have Type-A personalities versus the laid-back Type-Bs. They usually have a very competitive nature. Generally assertive people have participated in team sports rather than being the type of person that sits in the stands observing. What activities does your sales candidate participate in? What awards has he or she achieved? Successful salespeople are goal-oriented, motivated by commissions, and want to win sales contests. Commitment. Effective salespeople feel that sales is their calling. Too many apply for a sales job because they desperately need a job or view it as a

Photo: Shutterstock/ GaudiLab.

Characteristics of highly effective salespeople.



ping stone in their climb to a management position. These people ultimately want to be someone’s boss rather than being on the streets in the thick of the fray. In their heart of hearts, they’re just going through the motions until something better comes along. On the Job When a salesperson fails, it’s usually as much of your failure as an employer as it is theirs as an employee. In some cases, you may have hired someone who is just not cut out for sales. More likely than not, an employer has not provided a salesperson with the right training, the right guidance, or the right marketing support for them to be successful. When I was hired for my first vinyl graphics sales job, the training was extensive. For three weeks, I worked in each of the departments in the shop.

During the fourth week, my hands-on training continued at a trailer manufacturer, where I installed vinyl graphics. The final phase of training involved joint sales calls with several veteran salesmen. Obviously this initial indoctrination to the business of printed graphics didn’t make me an expert in the field. It did, however, serve as an invaluable foundation upon which I could build on my industry knowledge. Most young salespeople do receive the benefit of this type of education from their employer. Generally, after a few days in the shop, many are set loose on the streets to fend for themselves. Should you be surprised when they fail to make the grade? Whether you hire experienced salespeople or newbies, you must devote a considerable amount of time, early in their employment, travelling with them until they get up and running.

No matter how experienced your salespeople are, you cannot provide any meaningful training or guidance from behind a desk. It just doesn’t work! This holds true even if you form an agreement with an independent rep who has years of experience. Conclusion The graphics market is a business of details. To get new salespeople up and running, you’ll need to spend a significant amount of time with them out in the field. If they have never sold graphics before, they will need to see how to conduct a vehicle or site survey and listen to you as you interview a prospect. If you have hired well, they’ll pick up on the questions that you ask and the words that you use, and eventually they’ll make your sales techniques their own sales techniques.














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All Photos.



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March 2020



Photos (clockwise from top left): Mimaki USA; Mactac; PRINTING United; Mimaki USA.

Environmental graphics are now in demand.


nterior graphic design has grown recently, and more vertical markets are turning to sign companies for environmental graphic design (EGD) solutions. According to the Society for Experiential Graphic Design (SEGD) Web site, EGD “embraces many design disciplines including graphic, architectural, interior, landscape, and industrial design, all concerned with the visual aspects of wayfinding, communicating identity and information, and shaping the idea of creating experiences that connect people to place.” And it’s a growing market. “Interior design elements have increased in popularity,” says Michael Maxwell, senior manager, Mimaki USA. “Improvements in material and adhesive technology have created an opportunity for public spaces to be refreshed more often with digitally printed graphics.” Maxwell says that hotels, office lobbies, and medical treatment areas are spaces that most frequently request interior

graphics. “Creating more inviting spaces are a requirement as people shift more and more to e-commerce,” says Maxwell. “[Environmental graphics] are desirable because they can be tailored to a building, floor, or even a single room.” Jeff Stadelman, marketing manager for Mactac, also sees interior graphics being used in a variety of markets. “We are seeing more custom printing being used in hotels, offices, schools, and even residential spaces,” says Stadelman. “Restaurants, retail stores, libraries, and much more are often upgrading or refreshing their corporate look. “This allows for a much more diverse portfolio offering and more revenue opportunities for printers.” Stadelman also sees open offices using interior graphics. “Businesses still want the light and airy feel in the office but are also looking for privacy,” he says. “A frosted or dusted window film can help provide both benefits.” Ray Weiss, director of Digital Print Programs at SGIA, cited numbers from the association’s Markets and Products Survey, released in quarter one of 2019. “In the question about markets served,

architecture/construction came in at 64.8 percent, and food services (restaurants, bars, cafes, cafeterias) came in at 54.7 percent. So it appears that printers are clearly serving this market space,” says Weiss. “Markets that are seeing growth from those surveyed were architecture/ construction (56.4 percent), interior decorators and designers (55.6 percent), and health care (hospitals, clinics, nursing homes, pharmacies) (52.5 percent).” Weiss says that when looking at products offered, banners/soft signage/flags were offered by 84.3 percent of those surveyed and wall/architectural/building graphics were seen as a growing market by 67.4 percent. “Think back just a few years ago— tradeshow graphics were vinyl or hard surface walls that were expensive to ship and hard to maintain,” he says. “With soft signage, the material is much more forgiving and lighter.” To show off the wide array of possibilities in the EGD space at its inaugural printing expo last October, PRINTING UNITED created an “Experience Zone” on the show floor where everything to do with print was on display. “Some of

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for low- or no- VOC will dictate the type of printing that can be used.” Outgassing and air quality shouldn’t be the only parameters considered. A wide color gamut is also important. “Advances in eco-solvent ink technologies offer digital print service providers the ability to use that same technology for indoor prints,” says Maxwell. “For example, printers that

A setting from PRINTING United’s Experience Zone.

what you saw printed were pillows, chair cushions, wall coverings, lamp shades, window treatments and blinds, and of course, prints on canvas,” says Weiss. Interior graphics are most frequently found on windows, walls, and floors. “Examples include floor graphics for advertising and wayfinding, decals on walls and windows to bring color or messaging, tinted or frosted windows for sun filtering or privacy screening. Even applications like countertop graphics to remind customers of the latest sale or marketing message,” says Stadelman. “The biggest benefit is customization. With digital printing, the ultimate customer can design exactly the right message and create just the right ‘feeling’ for their intended audience.” Maxwell agrees. “Wallcovering material that is digitally printed gives businesses an opportunity to customize the space very quickly,” he says. “Digital printing offers a wider range of colors versus cutvinyl, painting, or even screen printing to create environmental graphics. “It’s repeatable, meaning every print will be the same as the first (no variation in quality or color), and enables higher production runs in a shorter period of time versus manual production methods.” The quick change out of temporary graphics has led companies to seek out ecologically friendly products. “Ink manufacturers such as Mimaki understand that air quality is a concern with printed goods, so development of inks to meet high standards such as GREENGUARD are important,” says Maxwell. The concern with air quality has led to aqueous printing being a popular op32

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March 2020

Photo: PRINTING United.

tion in EGD projects. “Aqueous printing (primarily latex) is a big player in this market just because of the lack of offgassing that can take place,” says Weiss. “Eco-solvent or UV typically need to out-gas and then have a laminate applied to avoid any unpleasant odors that a heavy layer of ink offers. As buildings become more air-tight, the requirements

Photo: Mimaki USA.

support orange and light black ink sets offer print shops the option to offer services for traditional interior graphics while serving their existing customer base.” Also take note of how much sunlight the graphics will be exposed to—despite being inside. “In cases where sunlight is prominent, exterior rules apply. In this case, solvent technology provides the

most durability with UV-curable a close second,” says Maxwell. “Aqueous technologies such as dye sublimation and latex offer the least amount of UV durability.” In a market where deadlines seem to get shorter everyday, turnaround time is key. Maxwell says UV-LED curable printers take the lead on production times. Aside from digital printers, sign shops

An example of interior floor graphics.

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also need to choose their media wisely. First consider the type of surface where you’ll be applying the graphics. Then confirm whether the graphics will be temporary or permanent, as this will affect removability and adhesive needs. Lastly consider the power of textiles and textured media to transform a space in addition to color and graphics. “People really can customize a space by their messaging, color choices, and media textures,” says Stadelman. For shops just getting involved in interior design, be sure to stay educated on the trends and printing processes. Turning to resources from sign associations can make a big difference here. Weiss cites SGIA’s digital textile community on its Web site and as well as its PRINTERLink platform as good places to ask questions and connect with other printers. SGIA also offers Webinars and workshops on topics like dye sublimation and color management. It’s also important to make sure your existing customers know you offer EGD solutions. “Start by surveying your own customers. Many will have you pegged as doing a particular type of work, and when they need another service, may not even think of you,” says Weiss. “Get a good understanding of what your customer base is doing and then let your customers know of your new capabilities.” To drum up new business, talk with your local architects, construction firms, office managers, and school business managers. “They may be in the market for interior design options,” says Stadelman, “and the printers can be their perfect resource for choosing the right product.” March 2020

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The latest in Wrapabull projects.

ne of the most profound advertising mediums nowadays is the vehicle. Because of its mobility, a vehicle provides an excellent means of getting a company’s name, product, or event all the attention it deserves. One of the more impactful methods of transportation advertising is vehicle wrapping, which integrates mobile advertising, promotions, and event marketing to deliver high-impact and precisely targeted messages when and where it counts. These “moving” billboards, with wide format-printed, pressure-sensitive films adhered to the body of a car, bus, truck, or van, are playing a key role in the booming global advertising market. 34

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As evidence, just ask Chris Bull, owner of Wrapabull, a car vinyl graphics specialist based in South Carolina. Bull founded his company almost six years ago as a full-service print and sign shop focusing on high-end and highquality vehicle wraps. “I started in this industry in 1994 working for a large national sign shop franchise, and I wrapped my first vehicle back in 1996,” he says. “Today [at Wrapabull], we have five employees and stay booked out about a month-and-ahalf consistently.” Wrapabull is also part of the international Paint is Dead network, and Bull’s shop is both Avery Dennison-certified and Hexis-certified. In fact, Avery Dennison also uses the Wrapabull facility

for their advanced wrap class and certification testing. Designs on Wraps Bull and his team’s process for approaching a wrap design is the same for all types of vehicles—whether it’s a commercial job or a custom job for a race car or show car. “You can never have too much information from the client,” says Bull, who makes sure to ask plenty of questions about colors, styles customers prefer, logos needed, or any information that may need to be displayed on the wrap. He also always asks for inspirational photos of things customers have liked online—everything from a vehicle wrap to a music video to an advertisement.

Photo: Mike Kuhn.



“If it’s a commercial vehicle, I ask for any brand guidelines or specs from the business. This way, I can see what they like and their style,” says Bull. When designing vehicle wraps, Bull uses Adobe Illustrator® and Photoshop® together. “I think each program handles different aspects of the design process better,” he says. “I will also use ‘time and true’ pencil and paper to hand draw elements, if needed, then bring them into Illustrator and vectorize and color them. “We also use techniques like spray paint or texture rubbings on surfaces to create unique elements for a project.” The Wrapabull team also takes photos of the customer’s actual vehicle in order to build their own templates to show the customer exactly what the wrap will look like. “This really helps with boats, trailers, and food trucks, as it’s hard to find templates for them,” according to Bull. “If it’s a standard vehicle, we rely on The

Bull was able to upsell a BMW car dealership from basic lettering to a clean, professional-looking full-coverage wrap.

Project: Michelin McLaren 12C Recently Wrapabull completed a vehicle wrap for the Michelin McLaren 12C. This project involved a Michelin North America-sponsored McLaren build for which they gave Wrapabull full

Bad Wraps™ templates. I’ve never had one to be off size, and they give a photorealistic visual of the finished product. Giving a realistic proof, via a template or actual photos, really helps a person visualize what they’re getting.”

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The Wrapabull facility is large enough to handle Avery Certification training.

creative freedom. As Bull explains, the car consists of about five different body panel colors— but you would never know it. “They wanted to focus on the release of their new PS4S tire, so I recreated a vector drawing of the actual tire tread and used it as a design element,” he says. “The car is full print with luster lamination. The yellow door areas are Gloss Yellow film, and all logos are printed reflective film. “This project landed us a great, longterm relationship, as well as cool projects that we have with Michelin today.”

Project: Wes Spry Drag Car Creativity has also been at the center of the vehicle wrap for Wes Spry Racing’s drag car—one of Wrapabull’s longterm projects. The company has been wrapping this race car for the past four race seasons. “Wes gives us full creative freedom, as we have gained his trust,” says Bull. 36

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Photo: Wrapabull.

Project: BMW Columbia Wrapabull also recently worked on the BMW Columbia—a commercial transit parts vehicle. The dealership came to Wrapabull and wanted basic lettering for their parts van. Bull was able to show them the concept of a very clean, professional design that focused on the BMW brand and managed to upsell them a full coverage wrap. “I think it gives this dealership a great look and really stands out,” Bull says. “After this, we wrapped another vehicle and all the interior doors of their dealership because of the creative approach we took with this design.”

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The Michelin McLaren 12C consists of five different body panel colors.

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“He let’s us do whatever we want—he just gives us a color scheme to go by.” The first year of wrapping the Wes Spry Race Car, Wrapabull created a full-print red grungy/graffiti-style design with Avery Red Diamond series color film to add “pop” to the design. A year later, the company designed an abstract blue-and-silver design, printed on 3M silver metallic film, which gave it a near paint-like finish on the race car. “This year, Wes wanted something dark, so I came up with this black-andgrey abstract design with some red and white pinstripes,” Bull says. “Knowing he sometimes races at night, I knew it needed some ‘pop.’ I had some red reflective pinstripe tape left over that was almost the exact same width of the printed stripe—so we added that and brought this design to life. “He is a great customer, and this shows what a good and proper design style can do for one’s business.”

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Conclusion After more than twenty-four years wrapping vehicles, Bull still enjoys working with vehicle wraps because of the diversity offered in the designs. “I love it when a customer comes in with a concept and they are open to letting me run with it. We literally can create anything,” Bull says. “I enjoy taking their idea and just blowing their minds, expanding the concept, and giving them something they couldn’t even imagine. I also like mixing medias—mixing printed designs with matte, satin, gloss laminates, or color-change films. “When people trust you and are open to new ideas—anything is possible.”

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Sign Builder Illustrated



Halo-lit letters and signage make a statement.



acklit channel letter signs are mounted away from the wall, which causes the LED modules to form a halo effect from behind the sign. These types of letters not only add an elegant look above entrances, in exhibits, or on monument faces, but also avoid unnecessary light pollution. “From our experience, upper-scale store fronts, in particular boutique, premium-positioned restaurants, and


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March 2020

hotels that want a subtle, sophisticated branding look without ‘blaring’ [it] out, are ideal for halo-lit channel letters,” says Kenan Hanhan, president of Provis Graphic LLC, a European company now moving into the North America market. “There are also great applications in interior place-making/experiential environments—from museums to theme parks. “A lot of it also comes down to simple aesthetic preference.”

To achieve the appropriate backlit aesthetic, Hanhan says lighting designers should question their wholesale letter manufacturer-suppliers to find out which way their LEDs point. “The best halo light diffusion quality comes when the diodes point toward the inside of the face of the letter, reflecting the light back to the mounting surface,” he explains. “This increases the light wavelength before it hits the mounting surface and avoids the

All Photos: Provis Gtaphic LLC.


Mounting distance from the surface plays a key role in the backlit effect.

sightly reflection of the diodes off of the mounting surface.” Colin Woodford, marketing associate at LED kits and fixtures manufacturer GE Current, A Daintree Company, agrees that LEDs pointing inward results in an even or diffuse halo effect. “Spacing the modules evenly can also assist in attaining even illumination,” he says. Woodford adds that since each project a lighting designer encounters is

ent, it’s difficult to generalize halo-lit advice for LED placement inside or behind the letter; however his company has made some observations. “Placing LED modules on the back of the letter, recessing them in a channel on the back of the letter, or placing the modules on a clear/ diffuse backing facing into the letter are the most common,” he states. “If it’s a smaller or more challenging application, placing the modules on a clear backing and having them face back into the letter will likely give more uniform results. “You can also play around with how far the modules are positioned from the edge of the letter to change the effect of the halo, as well as modifying the distance between the sign and the surface that it’s mounted onto.” The size of the letter(s) and its distance from the surface will also have an effect on LED placement. “Generally letters deeper than about three to four inches may require two strings of LEDs to achieve uniformity,” says Woodford. “Another option, depending on the letter set, may also be to place the modules on the back of the letter faces, facing the wall/surface the letters are attached [to].” The distance between the letter set and the mounting surface will affect the halo look and the amount of light that must be used, and it’s because of this that Hanhan stresses the importance of optimizing the mounting distance.

“Of course, there are so many variables here—including the size/depth of the letter, the type of mounting surface involved, and whether the sign will be viewed at a close distance or not,” he says. “[But] typically we find that standoff distances ranging from 3/8-inch for small letters viewed up close to up to 2.4 inches for larger, deeper letters work best.” Mounting hardware should be placed in the area the modules are placed and not located along the outside of the letters (as doing so may block light). “Placing the hardware in the middle of the letter will eliminate the possibility of shadows,” says Woodford. “If this cannot be done, the modules will need to be placed strategically to minimize light blockage. “More modules may need to be added to eliminate shadowing.” There are several other things lighting designers can do when playing around with the look of halo illumination. “Colors that contrast with the letter itself, if illuminated, can make the sign stand out,” suggests Woodford. “Changing the mounting distance can influence the look; do you want a tighter halo or a softer, cloudier halo?” If you’re looking for something softer, Woodford says that you can increase the distance of the LEDs away from the mounting surface to do this. “You can even look at the surface material the letter set is mounted to,” he says. “DifferMarch 2020

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The use of colors for halo-lit applications is subjective and often dependent on the end-user’s branding guidelines.

ent surfaces will disperse the light differently, giving different effects. Try to stay away from an extremely reflective surface though; this can act like a mirror and show the LEDs.” So are there differences you need to

consider when designing halo-lit LED channel letters that are going to be installed above the sight line of the public as opposed to eye-level? According to Hanhan, the biggest differences are the type of letterform used

and the length of the standoffs. “When letters are viewed up close, we like the precision look of cast block letters that cast a great halo at short standoff differences, so the standoffs are also not as visible,” he says. “Traditional trimcapped letters or even trim-less fabricated painted aluminum or stainless steel letters don’t look as attractive close-up in our opinion. “Also, when looking at halo-lit letters above the sight of line, you can get away with longer standoffs (to optimize the halo diffusion), because the standoffs are not as noticeable at that distance.” Woodford says that GE Current always recommends testing the design before proceeding too far into the halo-lit fabrication process. “If possible, be sure to view the test sample while standing at least twenty-five feet away in the dark,” he advises. Hopefully the preceding advice gives you some backing to help make your next backlit project a glowing success.

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March 2020





t’s time to rethink projectors. In the last few years, projection technology has greatly advanced, which has allowed for a whole new world of applications. “Laser technology has really reinvigorated the space in terms of less maintenance and general higher quality projection,” says Ramzi Shakra, Product Manager, Large Venue Projectors, Epson. “With laser being the light source instead of a lamp, you get incredible brightness and outstanding image quality. And you can set the projector in such a way where you can get consistent brightness over the life of the projector.


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March 2020

“So it’s really worth looking at the latest laser projectors and what they can do.” Top Technology While projection technology has advanced, it doesn’t necessarily mean that installing or operating the projector has become more difficult. Depending on the application, projector installation should be straightforward. “You have to be thoughtful of where you’re going to mount the projector to achieve the size of image you want,” says Shakra. “But because projectors have zoom lenses (and they can shift the en-

tire image up, down, and sideways), you have a good amount of latitude on placement in your space. “For even wider projector placement latitude, interchangeable lens projectors are a great option.” Epson offers a variety of projectors, including the powerful and bright Pro-L series, which features up to eleven optional lenses and 3LCD technology that utilizes three chips to provide high color accuracy and equal white and color brightness. Epson’s LightScene is ideal for visual displays and immersive environments. Thanks to more robust capabilities and

All Photos: Jasper Mosher.


Eight different projectors were used on the Banko Cantina project.

The dynamic capabilities of today’s projectors are pushing the possibilities.

features, projectors can be used for creative, immersive experiences; pragmatic applications; and to optimize unused space. “[Applications can be] something as pragmatic as a menu, bathroom signs, projecting on the floor to help guide people a certain way,” says Remi Del Mar, Senior Product Manager, Visual Displays, Epson. Projectors also do a better job at cutting through the visual clutter to attract attention. “People are looking at their phone, which is a screen. They go home and look at their TV, which is a screen,” says Shakra. “They almost don’t see the screens anymore. There’s just nothing

interesting or new about them. “But if they see projection on a curved surface, or projection onto a 3D object, suddenly they’re really paying attention.” In addition, projectors allow a client to keep the integrity of their design and space intact when they’re not in use. “You can think of flat panels and LED walls as added furniture to the space,” says Shakra. “While projection actually augments the space. You can turn off the projected image, and then your space goes back to the way it was before.” That’s not to say that flat panels or LED displays don’t have their place, especially in practical, straightforward applications. “A good way to look at technology in this space is it’s not necessarily about using a flat panel or projector but rather how they can complement each other,” says Del Mar. “A flat panel can still do what it does best, which is provide information in a cost-effective way.” The Experience Economy Where projectors really “shine” is in creative applications. “You have cross-over to artistic space design and creating an ambience or mood setting that’s on the creative side of things,” says Del Mar. Businesses are now using projectors for everything from wayfinding to education to interactive experiences. “As you swing the pendulum toward creating these unique experiences—optimizing spaces [like] tabletops, fabric, floors, etc.—this dynamic aspect of projection is very unique,” says Del Mar. “You can’t do that with any other technology today.”

Because of these capabilities, projectors are uniquely positioned to meet the demands of consumers. Del Mar cited the idea of the “Experience Economy,” which says that the next economy will be one where businesses must provide a memorable event or experience for customers where the memory of the time spent becomes the product—the “experience.” Banko Cantina Banko Cantina, a Mexican restaurant and tequila bar in West Palm Beach, Florida, understands the importance of cultivating an experience for its patrons. The bar/restaurant stretches across three floors in a 1921 landmark building that was the former home of the American National Bank. On the first floor is an authentic Mexican restaurant, on the second a lounge with dancing, and on the third a rooftop bar with a DJ and dance floor.

Projection mapping was also included on the exterior of the building. March 2020

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Eyes were projected onto 106 ping-pong “eyeballs” on a wall of skulls.

When Owner Tom Murray took over the establishment in 2018, the second and third floor lounge and rooftop bar were doing well, but he was looking to do


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March 2020

something new that would bring more attention to the Mexican restaurant on the first floor. Hailing from Chicago, Murray remembered the way bars in the city

would go over the top with their holiday decorations, and he decided to do something similar with Banko Cantina. He contacted The Event Group, which has experience decorating large-scale organizations, and the company brought in The Electric Dream Machine to plan out projection mapping for the space. “Banko Cantina wanted to go all out and do something really big,” says Jasper Mosher, co-founder of The Electric Dream Machine. Mosher walked around the venue and chose artwork and existing structures to animate. “One of the great things about Banko is how much unique artwork is already painted throughout the venue,” says Mosher. “Existing structures and artwork are our favorite mediums to work with. Our process can leave a building, sculpture, or painting looking like a cartoon misplaced into a real life setting. This effect is so impactful that you just want to reach out and touch it to see if what you are experiencing is real.”

Together with a variety of real, tangible Christmas decorations, the projection mapping included images of elves and Christmas scenes on the windows, a roaring fireplace on a wall, and a painting of a woman that was brought to life with moving eyes and various Christmas imagery projected around her. Mosher thought the outside needed some projection mapping as well. “After we had finished the inside, we proposed the outside, and the owner loved it. So we went ahead and mapped it out, and it seemed to be a pretty big hit,” says Mosher. “There was an abandoned building across the street that had the perfect empty window space to put the projectors in.” The exterior projection mapping includes images of falling snow, colorful backgrounds, and elves in the windows. Banko Cantina has since used projection mapping to transform the bar for Halloween, St. Patrick’s Day, and to show NFL’s biggest game of the year. For this past 2019 holiday season, Murray wanted to go even bigger. In 2018, the content ran for about three to four weeks. In 2019, it was extended to just over seven weeks. “With permanent installations or situations like Banko Cantina where everything is going to be up for five or six weeks, we can really justify digging in and putting the time into the content creation because it’s not going anywhere,” says Mosher. “We’re very artistically motivated, so digging into a project in such a fashion is really our favorite thing to do.” For the 2019 installation, The Electric Dream Machine reused the indoor and outdoor content from the previous year and added on new effects and content. “One of the new projects inside was a painting of a woman that we were able to bring to life with our self-crafted animation techniques,” says Mosher. “We digitally painted textures on her skin, made her hair blow in the wind, inserted colorful backgrounds, and added a ‘sugar layer’ of different magical effects on top of the entire composition. “The second addition was a section behind the bar where fifty-three golden skulls had previously been fastened to the wall. We took the time to paint and attach 106 ping-pong balls as eyeballs. We then

used the Resolume software to projection map a different set of eyeballs to look around independently on each one of the skulls and added Santa hats for some additional Christmas flare.” The Electric Dream Machine used a total of eight Epson projectors at the venue, ranging from a 4000-lumen short throw all the way up to a 15,000-lumen laser.

“This was the first opportunity we’ve had to play with the 15K laser projector, and the results were amazing,” says Mosher. Over the last two years, projection mapping led to more exposure for Banko Cantina and also a large spike in traffic. “It’s a great way to pull attention to the establishment,” says Mosher. “It just really makes it stand out from all the others.”


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ignage plays an important role in retail environments—particularly in capturing customers’ attention and convincing them to make a purchase. The good news when it comes to point-of-purchase (P-O-P) signage is that there are a lot of creative options that can be installed to create a true selling point. Let’s put a little “P-O-P” into your workflow and speak with some industry experts about a few of the components that you can offer through design, build, or installation—in this case, displays, floor graphics, and magnets. Displays We’ll go ahead and skip the lengthy fine


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March 2020

print often found at the bottom of promotional materials and instead make something crystal clear: There are a lot of options when it comes to P-O-P displays. Branding and promotional items include vinyl-applied graphics, banners, portable sign stands, collapsible displays, fabric hanging structures, standing light boxes, back wall graphics, kiosks, and poster frames. Natalie Whited, vice president of Marketing for supplier Orbus Exhibit & Display Group, says that any type of display featuring easily interchangeable graphics are ideal for the point-of-purchase because of their versatility, especially when one considers the need for retailers changing messages from time to time. It really

depends on the length of the campaign. “This is most important with standing and wall displays that are accessible,” she says. “Given the space regulations, hanging structures will likely utilize the same massage for a longer time period and not be swapped out as regularly.” The versatility of fabrics and soft-type signage is making them an attractive option in the display field (wall art, banners, table-throws, etc.). Soft signage is durable and machine washable and can also be used time and time again, if properly stored. “Soft signage offers a high-end appearance without a high price tag,” says Whited. Advancements in fabric materials, according to Whited, are allowing print

Photo: Orbus Exhibit & Display Group.

Getting sold on the different types of point-of-purchase displays.

Precision Cut Letters

Photo: Mactac.

Floor graphics can enhance the environment—and the promotional campaign.

providers and retail shops to give a fresh take on something that has already been done, such as illuminated displays or “completely opaque fabrics printed with white ink.” Dye-sublimated fabric graphics, according to Whited, create rich, vibrant color that really gets noticed in stores. “Collapsible fabric and modular banners and back walls all serve as fantastic instore advertisements for dye sublimation,” she says. “Lightweight, portable, and easy to move around the store, collapsible displays offer the ability to promote where the most traffic is located. “The added benefit of these portable fabric displays is that they can be easily moved if there is a merchandise positioning change or if the display needs to be put away for a period of time.” Light boxes (where the surface of display is internally illuminated from behind) are another popular option. However to make the most of a light box, Whited says you should utilize a combination of dark colors and backgrounds with light, bright, colored text and images. “A bright, vibrant (even neon!) color approach helps images, logos, and messages really ‘pop!’” says Whited. “If the background color or graphic is too light, it will become washed out when it’s illuminated, in turn, maybe making less of an impact on the consumer.” Floor Graphics Wall and window graphics may be a more prevalent form of P-O-P advertisement,

but if you look down, you’ll see that floor graphics are also an ideal option to enhance the shopping experience. The good news: These graphics are generating even more creative design ideas. “Sometimes the floor graphic can be something like a finish line with information on a sporting events sponsors; other times, it’s announcing a grand opening or purely used for informational messages or directing customers to certain areas of a store,” says Jeff Stadelman, marketing manager at Mactac. “And don’t think strictly interior. I’ve seen outdoor floor graphics being used as branded sidewalkposted stop signs for people who walk and text to prevent them from stepping into a busy street without looking first!” If you’re intrigued by the idea of outdoor sidewalk graphics, some extra planning and preparations will be required. Stadelman says that, even though there are many things to understand when it comes to sidewalk graphics, they’re not really that much different than typical requirements for other signs—surface condition, weather forecast, temperature, rain, etc. How the graphic will be printed is another factor. “If the print provider only has a solvent inkjet printer and the media can only be printed UV or latex, there will be a problem,” he says. Pedestrian safety is another concern with sidewalk media. “There is currently only one specification acceptable for this condition in the U.S.—NFSI/ANSI B101.3,” says Stadelman, “and the print provider is responsible for mak-

Courtney Ramos-Fincher and Brendan Ramos go pretty far back, birth to be exact because not only are they the President/CEO and Vice President of A.R.K. Ramos Manufacturing in Oklahoma City, they are also siblings. Having been in the industry almost 25 years, both know exactly what it takes to continually produce and deliver high quality products for their customers. The A.R.K. Ramos difference stems from the fact that this family owned business has leaders in place that have not only worked in every department but know exactly what it takes to get the job done. They are both integral in the day to day processes of the business and know for a fact that this is why customers continue to reach out to them with new projects. A.R.K. Ramos is proud of its heritage and look forward to many more years!

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Sign Builder Illustrated


ing sure their media choice is approved for the protection of their business and the pedestrians.” Advancements in materials nowadays mean that floor graphics can be applied to various types of surfaces. When it comes to indoor preparation, applying graphics to carpet generally means that it needs to be vacuumed well prior to applications. “Tile, vinyl, linoleum, terrazzo and ceramic floors must be cleaned first with a commercial cleaner and then washed with isopropyl alcohol to remove any grease, wax, or cleaner solution residues,” says Stadelman. “Hardwood floors must be lightly cleaned with a commercial cleaner designed not to harm hardwood finishes, while concrete or asphalt must be swept clean of loose stones and debris.”

Photo: Master Magnetics, Inc.

Magnetic sign holders and hooks can also be considered for point-of-purchase use.

Magnets Remember earlier when we mentioned that interchangeability is a big plus when it comes to point-of-purchase signage?


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March 2020

Well interchangeability is a prime selling point with magnets. “Magnetic graphic systems (magnetic sheeting and magnetic-receptive sheeting) are ideal since the graphics and copy can be layered, so only the variable part needs to be changed,” explains Mike Gertz, marketing manager at Master Magnetics, Inc. Magnetic point-of-purchase applications include retail store displays, restaurant and mobile menu boards, banks, wayfinding signage, hanging or sign displays, and basically any display that requires frequently changing information or graphics. “For example, a sporting goods store can use a magnetic graphic system to feature seasonal specials showing a large attention-getting photo of the ideal mountain scene for camping and hiking, with overlays of special weekly sales of boots, backpacks, and tents that get replaced, not the entire graphic,” says Gertz. Printable magnetic graphics systems offer the same high-resolution quality as other printable substrates for impressive, attention-getting visuals. “These attributes all help to make magnetic systems a cost-efficient and effective solution,” says Gertz. Other attractive properties for magnets in P-O-P include their simplicity, their durability, and their reusability—indoors or outdoors. “They’re repositionable while still offering permanent power with a range of strengths to match the needs of the application,” says Gertz. Be sure to store flexible magnetic sheeting in a clean, dry area. “If rolling, roll with the printed or non-magnetic side out and store on end to avoid any flat spots,” says Gertz. “If storing flat, store on a clean, smooth, flat surface. Don’t stack sheets magnetic side-to-magnetic side, due to the potential of wrinkling caused by improper pole alignment. “And don’t lay magnetic sheeting on the ground, because the magnet will attract fine iron particles that are on the floor or asphalt or in the dirt!” You can also utilize magnetic chalkboards for P-O-P purposes. “These are printable with UV, solvent, eco-solvent, and latex inks for template and permanent graphics and copy, and the variable information can be written with chalk or chalk

markers,” says Gertz, noting that write-on/ wipe-off magnetic dry-erase marker surfaces are available too. While magnetic and magnetic-receptive sheeting can be cut by hand, a CNC table router or cutter are wise investments for the speed and volume needed for commercial print and sign shops, says Gertz. And think beyond flat magnetic sheet-

ing. Gertz points out that magnetic sign holders and hooks are ideal to hold various types of P-O-P signage. “Magnetic carabiners are the perfect fastener for vinyl banners with grommets because of their strength and how easily repositionable magnets are with no need for drilling holes or other types of fasteners,” says Gertz.



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Compensation and Commission Rewarding the salespeople at your shop.


ne way to compensate salespeople is straight commission. Some companies have compensation plans based on the profitability of the job. Selling jobs with greater profit margins earn higher commissions. Salespeople who are compensated by commissions only deserve everything they get. In many regards, they work as if they are independent salespeople. They must pay all of their expenses; and if they don’t sell, they don’t eat. Because these salespersons assume a significant amount of risk, never begrudge them the commissions that they rightfully earn. If they land some lucrative accounts, pay them what you agreed when you hired them. I know of a few employers who adjust sales commissions after a salesman starts to earn a comfortable living. This

just creates bitterness. As a result, many of these high performers leave one shop and go to work for another, taking many of their accounts with them. Can you blame them? In the end, you not only lose a good salesperson, but you must now go through the time and expense of finding a replacement and training him or her (Note: See this month’s how-to column, “Selling Graphics,” on page 26). What’s worse is when the word gets out that you’re a bad employer. You can structure your compensation plan in many ways—ranging from straight commission to salary, as well as a mixture of salary and commission. The value of weighting pay more heavily on commission than salary provides salespeople with greater motivation to work harder. How you structure your compensation plan should depend on your overall

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, 88 Pine St. 23rd Floor, New York, NY 10005 Printed in the U.S.A. Periodicals postage paid at New York, NY and Additional mailing offices.

Prices are subject to change.

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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business goals. In some cases, a shop may want to compensate new business at a higher rate than sales to existing accounts. I have worked for graphics companies that compensated their salespeople based on the profitability of the individual sale. Basing pay in this manner requires more accounting work, but it rewards salespeople when they sell at a higher markup. In my mind, this is win-win because both the shop and the salesperson make more money. How you devise your compensation plan not only depends on your business objectives and the type of behavior you want to incentivize but also on the difficulty of implementing the plan. You certainly do not want to create a plan so complex that it involves an inordinate amount of time for your bookkeeper to calculate. The plan should be easy for your salespeople to understand, as well as being fair and sufficiently rewarding to keep them motivated. A generous compensation plan will also help you attract and retain topnotch salespeople. Many shops pay commission as a percentage of sales. This might make sense if your business establishes a firm selling price. On the other hand, this doesn’t allow the salesperson any flexibility in negotiating price.

A generous compensation plan will help you attract and retain topnotch salespeople.

POSTMASTER: Send address changes to Sign Builder Illustrated, PO Box 1407, Cedar Rapids, IA. 52406-1407. 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: Shutterstock/ Shutter.B



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