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Another noob from the Buckeye state

Discussion in 'New Member Introductions' started by FatCat, Feb 15, 2007.

  1. FatCat

    FatCat Very Active Member

    Feb 12, 2007
    Columbus, Ohio
    Well, I see I have a few fellow Ohioans on here. So I know I'm not the first. My family owns a small commercial printing company (near Columbus) and I am looking to get into vinyl graphics and some limited signage/banners as we are currently outsourcing these items. I have some experience applying vinyl to banners and vehicles, but I realize I have a lot left to learn.

    I also realize the importance of buying good hardware and am looking at either Graphtec or Roland as my 1st plotter. Not sure what the best size will be as a few of our accounts will entail fleet lettering of semis and large trailors so I'm leaning towards a 30" or larger machine. I do have a few questions if anyone would be so kind to assist yet another newcomer.

    1. How important is new vs. used or refurbished equipment? Any drawbacks to buying an older machine to start off with? (Assuming you're buying a name brand machine, of course.)

    2. How important is the software, specifically dedicated signage software like Flexi etc. vs. using Illustrator or Corel? (Currently we have full PC & Mac versions of everything Adobe makes as well as others. I see some companies make plug-ins for Illustrator and Corel.)

    3. Other than the plotter, software and material, what are some of the other "necessary" items I should plan to invest in?

    4. Lastly, can anyone suggest good videos or reading material regarding vinyl - specifically for vehicle lettering.

    That's it for now, I appreciate any assistance offered.
  2. Gino

    Gino Premium Subscriber

    Jun 7, 2006
    Welcome to :signs101:from PA.

    Personally, I would never buy a refurbished machine or an ‘E’ [demo] machine. Buying used is always taking a chance on buying what someone else is getting rid of for some reason. Not always bad to do, but if you’re new at it, you might not want unwarranted headaches that no one will fix. On the other hand it is cheaper to do.

    To get started, your software should do alright.

    Other things you’ll need… will be tables, vinyl tools, substrates, knowledge of the craft…. so get some sign layout and design books… especially Mike Steven’s ‘Mastering Layout’.

    Next, try doing just the banners and small signs you first started with asking about and graduate to the trucks a little further down the road. Get your feet wet on the small stuff that is all your own before you go out and screw up someone’s truck and you have some big bills to pay out.

    I’m not being cruel, just don’t try everything and not understand what you’re doing at any level. You need to learn the basics first. The rest will come in due time.

    Good Luck…
  3. Paradise

    Paradise New Member

    Feb 6, 2007
    I am new here as well but I thought I could offer a little advice. My biggest hurdle was pricing. I tried to price according to the chain stores in my are and that does not work. Set your pricing according to what you need to make a profit and let your work sell itself.

    I also bought a used machine for my first and had no problems but I did run into a problem with the rip print software and had to update it.

    Good luck
  4. threeputt

    threeputt Very Active Member

    Mar 10, 2006
    washington state
    Hello Fatcat. I grew up in Strongsville-Cleveland area. Many years ago. Welcome to this board. Lot's of helpful advice and comments.
  5. FatCat

    FatCat Very Active Member

    Feb 12, 2007
    Columbus, Ohio
    Thanks for the replies so far.

    Gino, I appreciate your input. I'm financing this myself so initial investment is limited - maybe $5k. I guess I should have stated is it better to buy a used Graphtec or Rolan vs. a new Chinese import?

    Also, I have over 12 years in graphic design/layout for "print" - so not new to design per se. I am well versed in virtually all commercial art/layout software and I routinely train other graphic artists for companies we work with. I admit I lack true "sign" experience, but that is why I am here. (You gotta' start somewhere.)

    *I'd also like to note that the vinyl for the trucks would not be applied by me, but by their own staff who also paint and maintain the trucks. They are currently using someone who (I believe) is using cheap vinyl and it is causing problems when they try to remove it and repaint/re-letter the trucks every 1-2 years. So basically on that particular job I would give them the finished product taped up and ready to go. Their biggest concern is dealing with someone reliable, and who will give them good product. (This one account could possibly pay back my entire investment in 6 months or so based on what I was told they pay per truck for lettering.)

    Paradise, yes pricing is important. How did you eventually figure what you needed to charge? Do you use a software package?
  6. Pro Image

    Pro Image Major Contributor

    Nov 28, 2005
    Howdee from VA................
  7. Mike Paul

    Mike Paul Major Contributor

    Dec 30, 2003
    Welcome Aboard!
  8. signage

    signage Major Contributor

    Oct 5, 2005
    Another welcome from PA
  9. ENTDesign

    ENTDesign Very Active Member

    May 12, 2005
  10. OldPaint

    OldPaint Major Contributor

    R.T.A. VINYL INTERMEDIATE $5-7.50 SQ FT...........HP VINYL $10-12.50 SQ FT..... the statement:They are currently using someone who (I believe) is using cheap vinyl and it is causing problems when they try to remove it and repaint/re-letter the trucks every 1-2 years.
    now i dont know the other guy or you, but seems to me no matter what VINYL you put on their trucks........none of it comes off EASY....if it did that...it wouldnt last.
    seems to me that is not the only reason they are willing to let you do their work. introduce them to RAPID REMOVER.
  11. mladams7259

    mladams7259 Very Active Member

    Sep 7, 2006
    Definately stick with new name brand equipment. dont by a cheap plastic chinese made cutter. you WILL regret it.

    If you already have corel draw. you might look into a program called CoCut. Its allows you to cut directly from corel. check it out at Eurosystems.com

    Good luck and Welcome to signs101!
  12. FatCat

    FatCat Very Active Member

    Feb 12, 2007
    Columbus, Ohio

    No, they were previously using someone who's vinyl that was removed a lot easier than the current batch they have. Said person retired and they found someone new. They said this stuff was thinner and seemed to rip and tear upon removal vs. the other stuff coming off in much larger pieces.

    Yes, I have an inside contact that will help me get my foot in the door. But, I want to make sure I can do the job right and not cause more problems.
  13. The Big Squeegee

    The Big Squeegee Major Contributor

    Oct 10, 2005
    Lawton, OK, USA
    Welcome from Oklahoma!

    :Welcome: to :signs101:
    Last edited: Feb 15, 2007
  14. james2

    james2 Member

    Nov 23, 2006
    my brother lives in columbus.
    um, don't forget a laminator.

    for 5 grand investment, i don't know what you will be able to find new.

    i;m in cleve.
    new roland pro 3 54", print all kinds of media.

    good luck!
  15. Replicator

    Replicator Major Contributor

    Nov 19, 2006
    Sun City, AZ
    :Welcome: to :signs101: from Washington state !
  16. craigco

    craigco Member

    Jan 7, 2006
    :Welcome: From Florida----- GATORS RULE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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