Sign & Digital Graphics

August '16

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S I G N & D I G I T A L G R A P H I C S • August 2016 • 21 "Finding a good channel letter maker these days is not easy—it's more of an art, and there's still a few people out there who do it all by hand with a router, notcher and bender," he says. "If you're a small shop and you sell a few sets a month, it's possibly worth it to do it yourself, but if you're doing 20 or more a month, then it makes sense to go with a wholesaler." He estimates that less than 20 percent of sign shops in the U.S. still do everything by themselves. Hiller, whose shop has both a whole- sale and retail operation onsite, says that with the exception of a few guys literally doing fabrication out of their basements, setting up a sign shop with even the basic professional-level tools can be prohibi- tively expensive. "It's all a personal preference, but to get the proper equipment can run you up to $200,000, if you want to do it right —a good router is between $40,000 and $120,000, channel notchers are $40,000 and benders are $50,000. You can still do it with a jigsaw and a pattern, but in the time it takes you to do one set, I can do six in the same time," he says. Daryl Foreman, VP of national sales with San Angelo, Texas-based Principal LED—a supplier of LED modules and power supplies for channel letters—got his start nearly 40 years ago, making channel letters by hand in a shop, with an apprentice-like training. Now, with the advent of automated equipment, he says smaller shops have to run the numbers to see if it's really worth it to do the work themselves, as craftsmanlike as it still may be. "If you're a small- to medium-sized shop, you probably can't afford to buy that equipment as it's very difficult to be competitive," Foreman says. "Most small shops are family owned and in addition to their employees, their owners do it to put food on their own tables. If your target market is channel letters, then it's a good investment, but if not, that equip- ment is going to be sitting idle while your employees are doing other work." As the second-biggest supplier of LED lighting components in the country, made in USA A Company of Western Engravers Supply, Inc. Dedicated to the sign industry Announcing the Foundation for the Advancement of the Sign Industry (FASI) Website The only website dedicated to the sign industry itself. FASI doesn't compete with anyone. It doesn't sell a product or service. It isn't seeking members/customers. It doesn't sell advertising. It isn't asking for donations. It only wants to support all sign-related organiza- tions. Additionally, it will offer sign-related college scholarships. The FASI website is designed as a clearinghouse for information about the sign industry from myriad sources: ISA, SFI, USSC, AACSRE, the American Sign Museum, the trade magazines, etc. The real intended audience is other groups with an interest in signs: city planners, legislators, end users, etc. Familiarize yourself with the FASI website contents so you can send items to your city planner or customer. Wade Swormstedt, Executive Director Email: Phone: (513) 701-2197

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