New Contra Vision Product to Create Impressive Dual-Color Signage

Contra Vision are proud to present a great value product that makes signs stand out both day and night. Contra Vision® Performance™ Black Perforated Film in 20% transparency is a black on black perforated film intended for the production of dual-color back-lit signage.

The film is applied to the outside surface of built-up channel letters and during the day, when it is not backlit, the letters appear black. When the sign is backlit at night, it takes on the color of the translucent sign face used.

contra vision Performance Black Perforated FilmAlready this product has been used successfully by sign makers based predominantly in the USA but with increasing use in other countries. Recently, it was used by Rainbow Signs and Maintenance, who are based in Northern Ireland, on the Carryduff Community Church sign and the installation has been met with a great response.

Gavin, Lead Pastor at Carryduff Community Church said of the response to the sign,

“We love the sign and have had a number of very positive remarks about it from the general public as well as the folks who attend the church.”

contra vision Performance Black Perforated FilmThis 20% transparency film gives greater night-time light output than other lower transparency products currently available on the market. This means signage will stand-out to passers-by due to its vibrancy.

Alternatively, we offer a white on black perforated window film in 20% transparency which can be printed to produce channel lettering that is colored by day and white at night.

The post New Contra Vision Product to Create Impressive Dual-Color Signage appeared first on Sign Builder Illustrated, The How-To Sign Industry Magazine.

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After Shop Destroyed by Fire, Sign Company Rises Like a Phoenix

Thanks to neighborly goodwill, Innovative Signs in Wisconsin is up and running again after a fire destroyed its shop earlier in the year, the Milwaukee Business Journal reports.

“All of our printing equipment was gone,” CEO Chad Schultz told the paper. “For the manufacturing equipment, we had to replace a piece of equipment we had just installed and started running two weeks prior. Brand new technology, it was running great. It got corroded.”

In a stroke of serendipity, Innovative Signs had purchased a larger building two months before the fire, though it was not ready to move into at the time of the disaster. That meant the company needed a temporary home, which they moved into within a week of the fire.

While in their temporary digs, a local signshop called Silver Leaf Signs & Graphics let Innovative use its industrial printer to continue making vehicle graphic graphs, real estate listing signs and other products, the article explains. Also, a local furniture maker donated 14 office chairs to help reestablish operations.

By July, Innovative had moved into its new facility in Waukesha, WI. It measures 19,600 sq. ft., about 8,000 more than its previous headquarters.

On Aug. 20, Schultz will join the Independent Business Association of Wisconsin to share the story of how his shop is bouncing back from the disaster. For registration information, visit

Read more at the Milwaukee Business Journal.

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Outlook Continues to Improve for Overall Economy and Sign Industry

Analysts have revised the economic outlook even higher than previously thought, thanks to a stronger than expected rebound. But commodity prices and supply shortages pose a threat to the expected growth, according to the Sign Industry Quarterly Economic Report, produced by IHS Markit for the International Sign Association.Economic Report
The report covers the second quarter of 2021 and was prepared in June. It is sponsored by the National Association of Sign Supply Distributors (NASSD). The report assesses four segments of the industry: two supplier markets (printing and electrical/digital signage) and two end markets (electric/digital signage and architectural signage). It also forecasts commodities.

Some highlights:

  • The four market segments all show improving outlooks for 2021, with 2022 a year of continued recovery, IHS says. Strong consumer demand will continue to drive supply side and end market electric/digital signage into 2022.
  • IHS Markit has increased its forecast for global GDP growth in 2021 and 2022. GDP is expected to grow 7.4 percent in 2021 and 4.8 percent in 2022.
  • Commodity prices are starting to moderate. Steel production is alleviating the supply shortages, which will cause prices to fall during the second half of 2021. The exception is the United States, where steel capacity is idle, and imports are suppressed by logistics problems.
  • In 2022, both sides of the electric digital signage market—supply and end market—show an improved forecast as input prices return to normal levels and consumer demand remains strong.
  • Architectural signage end market is again the weakest segment, though IHS revised its forecast upward in 2021. It is expected to decline in 2022 and 2023, however.
  • The supply side printing market is vulnerable to labor and raw material issues. Analysts expect those to lessen over the next six months and output will grow rapidly. If cursed by further disruptions, the potential will be far harder to achieve or will be partly deferred into 2022.

The report is free for ISA, ISA Affiliated Association and NASSD members. Non-members may purchase it for $1,000 per quarterly forecast. This research can be accessed at A recorded webinar, in which IHS details the findings of the report, can be accessed at

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Tripp Lite’s New Digital Signage Stands Offer Quick Setup and Portability

Tripp Lite, a global manufacturer of power protection and connectivity solutions, offers simple, cost-efficient stands for displaying information, directions or entertainment in almost any setting, including trade shows, corporate offices, schools, healthcare facilities, retail stores, malls, airports, museums and hotels.tripp lite

Tripp Lite’s new digital signage stands accommodate flat-screen displays or interactive touchscreens up to 70 inches. The stands are a smaller, less expensive alternative to rolling TV/monitor carts, yet they still provide the convenience of portability.

Six different stands are available to hold a variety of screen sizes and weights. All of the stands feature quick, easy setup and VESA-compliant brackets for hassle-free display mounting.

  • Tripod stands (models DMPDS2342TRIC and DMPDS3770TRIC) feature adjustable height.
  • Folding stands (models DMPDS3255F and DMPDS3255CF) fold flat. DMPDS3255CF has handles and rear casters for smooth rolling.
  • Easel stands (models DMPDS4970 and DMPDS5570S) have snap-lock brackets for quick assembly and include wire rope to prevent tipping. DMPDS5570S has a built-in shelf for peripherals.

“A rolling display cart may not always be practical for digital signage in smaller spaces,” said Karenann Brow, Tripp Lite’s Director of Product Marketing for Surge, Power Strips and Display Mounts. “Tripp Lite’s portable digital signage stands have compact designs that allow users to bring their message to their audience almost anywhere. The stands are flexible solutions for everything from temporary wayfinders to permanent signage.”

Key Features of Tripp Lite’s Portable Digital Signage Stands

  • Stands are available to accommodate displays from 23 to 70 inches
  • Portable form factors bring digital signage almost anywhere
  • Compact designs fit in small spaces
  • Simple setup enables fast deployment
  • VESA-compliant brackets provide no-hassle display mounting

The post Tripp Lite’s New Digital Signage Stands Offer Quick Setup and Portability appeared first on Sign Builder Illustrated, The How-To Sign Industry Magazine.

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EFI Nozomi C18000 Plus

A 63-in., single-pass, UV-LED inkjet display graphics machine that prints CMYK+white with optional orange and violet inks. Prints synthetic media and paper-based materials as fast as 1,000 sheets or boards per hour.


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Your Voice Inspires Our Reporting on Small Sign Companies

HERE’S THE THING about asking for feedback: You get it. For years prior to this, I’d written many articles and a regular column. I could count on one hand — heck, two fingers — the number of emails I received from readers.

This year that’s changed. We introduced our Brain Squad survey group and have been publishing their contributions since our redesigned April issue. Brain Squad members supply us with not only tips, anecdotes, to-do items and Benchmarks projects, but also questions and “letters to the editor” — all submitted though our monthly surveys.

If you haven’t noticed already, look all over this issue for contributions from your colleagues. And you can join them by signing up at

Some questions or “letters” we’ve received from Brain Squad members ask us to feature more projects within the range of smaller sign companies. Sure, we all love and are impressed — hopefully inspired, too — by multimillion-dollar sign projects, such those featured in our July cover story. But what about projects for “mere mortal” signshops?

Well, we’ve got some for you this month. And I don’t mean to disparage these projects as “mere” by any stretch. Every kind of sign demands top-notch design, fabrication and installation to fulfill the sign’s intention. Of course, these are easier with some signs than others, but there’s nothing “mere” about the monument signs featured this month or the “mortal-made” projects any month.

Ever since I started on this magazine, I’ve strived to be the voice of realism, checking the impulse of favoring spectaculars and the like with great projects from the other 7/8ths of the sign world — the equivalent of an iceberg’s mass below the surface.

So, please understand that Signs of the Times knows you’re there and we all respect the hell out of what you do.

mark-signature updated

5 Smart Tips from This Issue

  1. Keep in mind the myriad options of sign blanks. (Tech Products)
  2. Diversify your product offerings with a laser engraver. (Things Remembered)
  3. Target a gross profit of 70% or greater. (Maggie Harlow)
  4. Choose new customers and new projects carefully. (Dale Salamacha)
  5. Eliminate hot spots and other problems from reverse channel letters. (Mars Bravo)

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Do You Have a Star Intern? Offer an Apprenticeship – Before It’s Too Late

The Apprentice

Summer’s almost over and the start of school is just around the corner. Are you sad thinking about your summer temp or intern leaving? Try offering them an apprenticeship that extends past the summer, into the school year and beyond. Good help can be expensive and hard to find. Here’s your chance to possibly mold a young person into a cross-trained new employee, who will be ready to step into an opening after they graduate.

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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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