MURPHY’S LAW STRUCK FASTSIGNS of Pflugerville (Pflugerville, TX) not long after co-owner Jeffrey Fusaro, a member of our Brain Squad, submitted his response to our request for this issue’s “favorite equipment and tools” article (see page 24). “As fate would have it, our Epson SureColor S60600 suffered a catastrophic printhead failure,” he says … but that won’t stop him for long.
Still, I feel guilty for jinxing Jeffrey. He relies on that printer; most of the products and services the shop he runs with co-owner and wife Patty Fusaro are printer-based — construction-site signage, vehicle and window graphics, and banners. (They also do a fair number of dimensional letter projects.) “The Epson is our workhorse and I am very happy with its performance,” Jeffrey says, describing its output quality as exceptional. “The printer is also easy to operate and maintain,” he says. “We can load a roll of material into the Epson and let it run unattended once the material is being wound onto the takeup reel.”
Jeffrey and Patty are rather new to the sign business and they’ve been working hard to turn around what had been a failing franchise location. At first, the fledgling owners naturally prioritized learning how to run the business, while their graphic designer ran all the equipment. Early on, the shop experienced significant printing issues, resulting in lost time and materials. “We were continually getting head strikes and ink spots on our prints,” Jeffrey says. “As it turned out, we were being a bit lax with printer maintenance.” He instructed the designer to run a print-head cleaning cycle and nozzle check every morning before printing anything, and that the printheads be thoroughly cleaned every Monday morning. This greatly reduced print defects, Jeffrey reports.
“I also noticed that if we left vinyl loaded in the printer overnight or over the weekend, the film would have ripples in it the next morning,” he says. “We have since been rewinding the vinyl back onto the roll every evening. In the morning, we reload the vinyl into the printer and there are no ripples.” Fastsigns of Pflugerville is having far fewer head strikes now, Jeffrey reports. “These minor changes resulted in big improvements.”
A look at the printing supplies and laminating equipment inside the shop.
When the original designer left, Jeffrey had to step up to the plate and run the equipment himself. He admits to a few swings and misses: “I wish I had a dollar for every time I loaded laminate into the [Kala Mistral 1650 laminator] backwards,” he recalls. Feeding material into the shop’s Mimaki CG-160FXII plotter was also a bit confusing at first. “I felt like I needed another pair of hands,” he says. Jeffrey turned to Fastsigns’ Technical Service department for its online video tutorials. “Now that I’ve been running all of the equipment myself for several weeks, things are flowing much smoother.”
Never satisfied, the co-owner strives for perfection. “If I see a defect on a print, I cringe — no matter how small it is,” Jeffrey says. “I realize that absolute perfection isn’t attainable, but in aiming for perfection, excellence can be achieved.” The last thing he wants is to show a finished product to a customer only to have them point out a defect. He tells his team, “You won’t notice what isn’t there.”
Mistakes happen, Jeffrey observes, from the estimate phase to the delivery phase. “The sooner you catch the mistake, the less the financial impact,” the quick learner advises. “Better to catch the error before the estimate even gets to the customer.”
For many more details and pictures from Fastsigns of Pflugerville, see signsofthetimes.com/072204.
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