New Shop Provides a Blueprint for Sign Industry Financial Basics

WENDY ZACCAGNINI OF CLAYTON, NC was looking to supplement her graphic design income when she sent out some feelers and found something unexpected: a business for sale! “Word got to me that a gentleman nearby was looking for help, so I gave him a call, figuring he was looking for a part-time designer,” Wendy said. “Come to find out, he ran his own little signshop, and was looking to move to Florida and sell his business. How could I not jump on the opportunity?” Now the newly minted owner of Zucchini Ink, a home-based signshop, she is quickly learning the ropes of how to simultaneously run a small business while developing her entrepreneurial skills. Whether your signshop is a one-woman show or a multi-million dollar fabrication shop, the basics are, well, the basics!

Wendy Zaccagnini, owner of Zucchini Ink (Clayton, NC)

Wendy agreed to the use of her shop’s financials as a leaping-off point to discuss the financial metrics of the sign business, and, hopefully, propel her on the path toward being in the position to invest in equipment, employees and more in the future.

I asked my friend and colleague, Greg Williams of Sign 4, an independent Louisville signshop, to join me reviewing Wendy’s 2021 P/L and balance sheets as a way to mentor her as a team.
Wendy has a small but steady base of business she runs from her home. With her background in graphic design, she does all design work herself and outsources the product from wholesalers.
Greg and I put together some advice to help Wendy “tweak” her results:

Gross Profit Goal of 70%

Wendy is at about 60% gross profit for 2021, excluding labor. However, when measuring gross profit (with or without production labor), be consistent and make changes when something is out of line. Greg and I calculated Wendy’s gross profit simply by subtracting her cost of goods from her revenue.

Greg recommended a much healthier multiplier on the materials she is purchasing. Wendy currently marks up her costs two times — and Greg pushed for more! “My philosophy is that cheap shops close,” he said. Be savvy about buying materials and then charge enough to make it worth your while!

Graphic Design Rates

Wendy is a designer, so she feels it’s easy to justify doing design work cheaply. She is charging $30 per hour, far below market. “You can charge at least double that,” Greg said. I encouraged Wendy to charge even three times that rate for really creative logo work. With whatever work owners do for their clients, they should charge what it’s worth, so eventually they can hire someone to replace themselves.

Package your design services. Logo work can require unending hours of edits. I encouraged Wendy to sell logo design as a fully described set of hours, so that if the client pushes for edits and changes, she has established that the changes will add cost.

When Wendy and I chatted about these adjustments to her business model, she was immediately eager and interested in getting started! No matter how long someone is in business, staying flexible and being willing to learn are key skills.

Watch for part two of this story about Wendy and Zucchini Ink! Next month we’ll have more tips and ideas for enhancing her bottom line and cultivating an ideal client base.

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Where Can I Find New Employees?

Q: Where can I find new employees?

A: We’ve been getting SO MANY questions like this! Given the size, dispersion, range of materials, equipment and types of signs out there — not to mention the different and unique positions within a sign company — unfortunately, there is no one, good answer to this question.

What we can offer is the incredibly funny, offbeat, but also insightful experiences of hiring employees that our Shop Operations columnist Dale Salamacha, his partner Rick Ream and others on staff describe in the episode of their YouTube show titled “Finding Good Employees And Our Epic Fails.” And if you like what you see, subscribe to Dale’s channel, “Media 1 Wrap This,” named after his and Rick’s Sanford, FL sign company.

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SAi Opens New Office in Florida

SA International (SAi), the leading provider of software solutions for the signmaking, digital printing, textile and CNC machining industries, has opened a new office in Sarasota, Florida. Several employees of SAi have relocated to Florida and will be working out of that office, including Dan Purjes, the company’s Chairman and majority owner.
Dan Purjes said, “SAi was the first software company in the wide-format printing industry to offer design and RIP products on a subscription basis. During the pandemic of 2020, SAi saw its business grow significantly, both in revenue and profits, and in the first half of 2021, SAi has seen an even more substantial growth in its business. Our expansion into Florida is a natural extension of that growth into one of the fastest growing states in the country.”

Sai new location
Dan Purjes, Chairman and majority owner of SAi

“Sign and print businesses recognize the exceptional value of our low-cost, full-featured monthly subscriptions coupled with free support, which is why we were able to grow our business during these challenging times,” said Don Feagan, SAi President and CEO.

SAi expects this growth to continue with the new office opening in Sarasota, with other expansion coming soon.

“With senior staff and keyboard members located together in Florida, we can respond more quickly to changes in the market and further develop plans for new innovations and strategies,” said Purjes. “You can expect to see many exciting things from SAi in the future.”

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PPDS Announces Three New Software Partnerships in the Hospitality Sector

PPDS is excited to announce three new partnerships with leading hospitality industry Property Management System (PMS) integrators – Nonius, Nevotek and Imagine Soft – opening up over one hundred additional PMS possibilities, all helping hoteliers maximize the full potential of their in-room TVs for advanced and tailored guest experiences.

ppds hospitality digital signage

Part of PPDS’ new ‘total solutions’ strategy to bring unrivalled and unrestricted choice to the hospitality market, these powerful new collaborations – announced at this year’s AAHOA Convention and Trade Show (AAHOACON21), booth #644 add extensive experience-enhancing control, management, communication and entertainment capabilities to Philips MediaSuite TVs, running on a bespoke interface that conforms to the customer’s exact needs, requirements and ambitions.

The addition of Nonius, Nevotek, and Imagine Soft, sees PPDS exceed any other display manufacturer for choice, with the pair joining Impala and TigerTMS on its ever-growing list of partners and bringing the choice of PMS options to an ever-growing list of around 200.

The new partnerships with Nonius (with 120+ million users worldwide and in 330,000 hotel rooms), Nevotek (with more than 3,000 hotels worldwide) and Imagine Soft (with 3,500 hotels worldwide and in 500,000 hotel rooms), allows hoteliers to unlock the full potential of their TVs through a variety of different means, including helping to drive communications with guests, enhance satisfaction – including world-class entertainment – and driving new revenue streams.

Speaking about the new partnerships, Jeroen Verhaeghe, International Business Manager Professional TV, PPDS said “The hotel TV no longer has to be just a screen in the room, with a single purpose. Like a phone, or a PC, TVs at home and in hotels have evolved beyond their original function, becoming an invaluable communication tool and a vital source for both entertainment and information.

“Coupled with the capabilities and continued innovation of MediaSuite, and working with leading PMS integrators, we’re opening the doors for hoteliers to manage the experience they want for their guests – from the moment they walk into a room to the moment they check out.”

Your TV, Your Choice

The new platforms provide a variety of personalized services for guests, such as welcome messaging, bill viewing, native language selection, personalized offers, and mobile check-in and out services, not typically available on standard interface solutions.

With no additional and costly hardware requirements for Philips MediaSuites needed, each of the partners’ platforms link seamlessly and securely with the TVs’ existing OS, allowing guests to benefit from PPDS’ existing market-leading and often world-first features and functionalities. These include the recently launched embedded Netflix solution – allowing guests to securely access their own Netflix account directly on the hotel TV – and the Chromecast built-in™ functionality, allowing guests to seamlessly stream content (including apps) on the display directly from their device with just the touch of a button.

The platforms also allow hoteliers to offer tailored TV portals (TV channels, movies, sports), and seamlessly integrate other third-party solutions of their choosing, such as Apple TV, Sky, BT, VoD, as well as other live content feeds, such as news and weather, local attractions and transport information.

ppds nonius nevotek imagine softCommenting further on the new partnerships, Verhaeghe said: “Every hotel proprietor, whether running a small property with a handful of rooms, or one with several thousand rooms across multiple locations around the world, will have their own views and preferences on how best to service their guests and how to provide the best possible experience during their stay. At PPDS, we don’t believe in a one size fits all or dictating and restricting choices for our partners. With these partnerships, our TVs are helping hoteliers to act upon and achieve their ambitions to best serve their customers.”

He concluded: “With these new PMS possibilities from Nonius, Nevotek and Imagine Soft – as with Impala and TigerTMS – we’re breaking the industry-mould, giving our customers more choice and greater control of what works best for them.”

Visitors to the PPDS booth (#644) at AAOCON21 will be among the first in North America to view, test and receive one-to-one demonstrations of its latest, ‘new for 2021’ range of dedicated hospitality solutions. Key new products being showcased at the event include the Philips T-Line interactive HD display range and the recently launched ‘revolutionary’ Philips MediaSuite TVs – the world’s first ever Android TVs specifically designed for the hotel room experience.

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All New Tetra® Titan Brings the First 10-Year Power Supply to the Signage Industry

GE Current, a Daintree company, is proud to introduce the signage industry’s first 10-year power supply, the Tetra® Titan. As the leader of the next generation of power supplies, the Titan is built to last, featuring a complete system that has been expertly designed and rigorously tested, and is guaranteed to last a decade.

Current is so confident in the Titan’s 10-year lifespan that it will also be offering a matching 10-year warranty on all 24V Tetra channel letter LED modules, as well as signature signage products like the Tetra Stick, Tetra Snap SS and DS, and the Tetra Edgestrip.

Tetra Snap
Tetra Snap

“Current has always led the signage lighting industry. Being the first to market with a 10-year power supply is neither a surprise nor a coincidence; it is a continuation of our years of innovation and expertise,” said Michel Doss, Vice President of Specialty Products at Current. “The power supply was always the weakest link in an LED system, always carrying a shorter warranty period. The Titan closes that gap.”

Along with the Tetra Titan, Current’s power supply portfolio is growing. The upgraded GLX2 series includes improved 100W and 300W models, as well as an all-new 200W power supply. Each offers better loading compared to the previous generation, with gains of up to 9%.

The Tetra Titan and new GLX2 power supplies are now available in North America through Current’s network of signage distribution partners. Learn more about what makes Tetra signage solutions visibly better and where to buy on Current’s website.

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Global Imaging to Distribute PrinterEvolution Products As ATPColor

Global Imaging, a leading distributor of grand format digital printing equipment, announces that beginning immediately, they will begin distributing PrinterEvolution products under the original manufacturer name ‘ATPColor’, to simplify their branding initiatives and streamline internal imaging logo

PrinterEvolution has been one of the Global Imaging family of brands since 2011. These printers have always been manufactured in Italy by ATPColor, an Italian manufacturer of digital textile printers since 2003. With the strength of ATP’s engineering, PrinterEvolution has become one of the industry’s most successful brands of digital textile printers and has installed over 100 units throughout the U.S. and Canada over the 10 years since its inception.

Greg Lamb, CEO of Global Imaging, stated, “PrinterEvolution has been one of the strongest brands in our 26-year history since its pioneering product, the Evo33, all the way through to the most recent 5-meter D Series with an inline calender. While we’ve built a solid base of customers under this brand, there’s never been any secret that the products were being designed and built by ATPColor in Italy. We feel this is the right time to simplify our own branding efforts and strengthen ATPColor’s worldwide presence by making this transition.”

The timing of this branding transition coincides with the unveiling of the newly redesigned ATPColor OneTex and OnPaper digital textile printer platforms. These product lines are to be considered the next generation of PrinterEvolution machines as the PrinterEvolution Eos Series, D Series, Kayo and T Series printers are phased out, making way for the ATPColor OneTex and OnPaper.

While the PrinterEvolution brand will no longer be used to market these devices, service and support of existing serviceable PrinterEvolution and new ATPColor devices will continue
uninterrupted through Global Imaging.

The ATPColor OneTex 3300 printer will be available for demonstration at Global offices in Louisville, Colorado in the fall of 2021 and at the upcoming Printing United show in Orlando, FL.

The post Global Imaging to Distribute PrinterEvolution Products As ATPColor appeared first on Sign Builder Illustrated, The How-To Sign Industry Magazine.

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ISA Organizes 2021 Sign Manufacturing Day to Raise Up Tomorrow’s Sign Pros

Finding qualified workers is one of the biggest challenges facing the sign and graphics industry, an issue we’ve covered regularly here at Signs of the Times.

The International Sign Association’s (ISA; Alexandria, VA) answer to that challenge is its annual Sign Manufacturing Day, during which sign companies host facility tours to encourage students to explore career opportunities within the industry. In 2019, a total of 87 companies participated.

The 2021 Sign Manufacturing Day is scheduled for Oct. 1 and free to participate in for ISA and affiliated association members. ISA will provide participating companies with a toolkit and other resources to help plan and host a successful event.

To learn more and register, visit Questions regarding the 2021 Sign Manufacturing Day can be directed to Allie Kunc at

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YESCO Commissions Custom-Built Neon Pumping Station for Las Vegas

On any given day, YESCO can produce thirty-five to forty neon units.

YESCO, the 101-year-old company known for creating, repairing, and maintaining internationally recognizable signs, announces the addition of a new, custom-made Neon Pumping Station now in service at the YESCO Las Vegas shop.

When neon signage enjoyed its height of popularity during the twentieth century, YESCO operated four neon pumping stations in their Las Vegas location. Currently YESCO has two stations in operation and three full-time neon technicians on staff whose combined years of experience total nearly eight decades. On any given day, YESCO can produce thirty-five to forty neon units. Generally each unit takes approximately thirty to forty-five minutes to create, though the colors used can affect this amount of time needed.

Neon pumping station.

The first step in the neon fabrication process is the forming of the glass tube. The neon technician uses various styles of gas torches to form the glass into straight or complex shapes. These torches include the stable ribbon-fire torch, which has an adjustable flame width, a CrossFire torch, and hand torch.

After the tube’s shape is established, electrodes are connected to the glass tube to facilitate the bombarding process, during which high voltage is applied to the glass tube to burn off any impurities. Any impurities that remain inside the tube could result in discoloration when the tube is illuminated.

Neon pumping station.

Following the bombarding process, gas is introduced to the tube via a vacuum pump, and the unit is sealed. Once this process is completed the unit is connected to a transformer and allowed to burn until the unit is stabilized.

The color coating used inside the glass tube combines with the gas used to create different colors once the gas is activated by electricity. For example, neon gas creates a red color and argon gas creates a blue color when pumped in clear glass. However, when glass tubes are coated with different color compounds, up to one-hundred different colors can be achieved.

Neon pumping station.

“These devices are built to order; you cannot buy them off the shelf,” said Dan Beza, production manager, YESCO Las Vegas. “We have a second new station on order to replace an older model which has been in service for many, many years.”

Neon signs when well-built and protected from the outside elements, have an indefinite life expectancy.

—Press Release


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A Sign Company Shares Their Experience with Digital Signage

By Ashley Bray

Family-owned, full-service sign company KC Sign & Awnings located in Aston, Pennsylvania has been servicing the Delaware Valley region for almost 30 years. The sign company offers everything from awnings to vehicle wraps to ADA signs, but it’s entry into digital signage was a little more recent.kc sign & awnings digital signage

KC Sign & Awnings entered the digital sign market in the late aughts after it observed prices coming down and digital signage making inroads into more markets. “We were probably early compared to most sign shops that got in, but we saw the new wave coming and people were going to go that way,” says Steve Clark, director of Sales, KC Sign & Awnings.

The sign company offers both indoor and outdoor digital signage through Vantage LED that comes with a multi-year content creation package and a seven-year warranty. KC Sign & Awnings also partners with some third parties to offer financing on the signs to its customers.

While outdoor digital signage is pretty well known and established, Clark sees demand for indoor digital signage starting to grow beyond the super high-resolution displays in the casino, city, and stadium markets. He predicts indoor digital signage soon making bigger moves into the commercial and public sector in businesses like restaurants.

Currently, KC Sign & Awnings provides digital signage for a number of markets, including country clubs, bars, and auto dealers. On the public sector side, the sign company does projects for fire companies, school districts, and townships.

Clark says installing outdoor and indoor digital signage both has its perks and drawbacks. With outdoor digital signage, Clark says sign companies are working with mediums and processes they know well—such as a putting a display on a pole for a pylon sign, or digging a footing.

Interior digital signage, on the other hand, can present new challenges with wiring and finding ways to run power through buildings that can be very old. However, indoor digital signage does eliminate the variable of weather delays on an install.

Speaking of challenges, Clark says one of the biggest hurdles KC Sign & Awnings faces in selling digital signage is educating its customer base. Clark says the difference between resolution and brightness has come up a lot lately. “It gets tricky with brightness levels because everyone is now accustomed to comparing resolutions, and the client base has gotten used to knowing the difference between something that’s 6mm 12mm, or 20mm. The tricky part is there’s a lot of people out there offering higher resolution boards, but they don’t put out the same brightness and that’s almost as big of a factor as resolution when it comes to outdoor signage,” says Clark, who explains that the discussion used to revolve around pixel, resolution, and pixel matrix, and it is now about pixel, resolution, pixel matrix, brightness, and durability.

kc sign & awning

Another challenge that will be familiar to any sign maker is the permitting process. “Permitting is always an issue. A lot of townships are still behind in their code, so we spend a good bit of time going through variances to get things approved because the government works slow. A lot of the code that was written was to prevent people from putting big billboards on a two lane highway; they weren’t to prevent a business putting a two-by-eight sign out,” says Clark, who says many of the codes are just a blanket ordinance saying no LED signs allowed. “It’s getting better as time goes on, but a lot of townships still won’t change the code. They’ll make you go through a long, drawn-out process, pay extra money, and then they’ll approve it.

“Know what the code is before you waste your time selling an LED to someone,” continues Clark. “Permitting is the only thing that usually prevents a job from being sold or completed—when you get a township that won’t budge.”

For other sign shops considering the digital signage market, Clark recommends to first and foremost choose your LED display partner wisely. “It’s probably the biggest thing that holds sign shops back—the horror stories or the bad experiences they have from picking an LED product or vendor that doesn’t stand behind their product or isn’t quality. I mean, they are high ticket items, so if you put something out there that doesn’t work, can’t get fixed, or you can’t service, it’s the quickest way to see your Google ratings dip or business disappear,” says Clark.

KC Sign & AwningsHe also recommends choosing a partner that will be able to provide parts and support on repairs. “We typically only have to make one trip to fix a sign because we stock extra of pretty much everything,” says Clark. “We can go out and fix it with parts we keep stocked then ship back the bad ones and replenish our stock.”

Above all, Clark recommends sign companies seriously consider adding digital signage to their line-up as it will keep them competitive and draw in additional business.

“The more digital presence we have, the more it draws us to other business. Because if someone is going to trust us with a $30, $50, or $100,000 dollar project, they’re definitely going to call us for a $3,000 dollar awning. So it qualifies you that you can handle it,” says Clark. “It has definitely led to a lot of other business.”

All photos courtesy of KC Sign & Awnings

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