Sign & Digital Graphics

May '17

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80 • May 2017 • S I G N & D I G I T A L G R A P H I C S ARCHITECTURAL AND ENVIRONMENTAL Getting Out the Big Guns Contracting industrial services expands sign shop capacity B Y R I C K W I L L I A M S Shop Talk local industrial service providers who can bridge the gaps and let us create just about anything our clients might want us provide. I have been running a small com- mercial sign shop for over 40 years, but I am fortunate to be a partner with my two sons in owning and operating another business that offers industrial services that most sign companies would not do in-house, including CNC waterjet, plasma and router-cutting services, as well as press brake work, powder coating, sand blasting, roll forming, and various fabrication services. That doesn't mean that we have any real edge on our local competition, though, as any local commercial sign company can avail themselves of all these services, through our sister company or through other reliable local vendors geared to offering these heavy duty services at reasonable prices. Sign companies can do themselves a service by educating themselves on what is locally available, and by establishing a relationship with providers who are in business to serve as subcontractors for all kinds of either high-tech or heavy duty work, which may be unreasonable for a commercial sign shop to do in house. No business of any type will be able to justify owning every piece of equipment that on occasion might be needed. So knowing what is right around the corner, or even across town from one's location is a very good thing. And developing a rela- tionship with one or more service provid- ers who can do some of the heavy lifting is always a considerable asset. The keys to getting your work done on time and at a fair price are simple: make sure you do your homework, providing the specifications or computer files that help the vendor get right to work, and always pay for what you get promptly. There's no rocket science here. Be an easy client to work for and be prepared to write a check or use a credit card when you pick up your work. These two simple things will help move your projects to the top of the work- load faster. T oday's sign makers work with much better and more expensive equipment than our predecessors would have even considered 40 or 50 years ago. Back then, other than a boom truck or crane, a commercial sign shop probably had less equipment than a local cabinet shop, and a great amount of the work was done by hand. There were no printers, plotters, lasers, routers and so forth, but instead we had work tables and easels, plus basic welding and wood working tools. But now we have an amazing amount of technology to assist us in what we do. However, no sign company can afford to have every piece of equipment that would be useful in sign making because the cost cannot be justified and it would take too much space even if cost wasn't an issue. That does not necessarily imply limitations, as in most medium-sized or larger markets there are plenty of Rick Williams owns Rick's Sign Company, a commercial sign shop in Longview, Texas. He has been in the sign industry since 1973 and documenting the sign business since 1986. Contact him at A sign? Well two signs, a framework and slabs of used granite benches were what we used to make about 30 of these for a local college, and plasma cutting, waterjet cutting and powder coating were all incorporated.

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