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Hello Board....New to the Sign business

Discussion in 'New Member Introductions' started by ChiefBL, Oct 25, 2005.

  1. ChiefBL

    ChiefBL Member

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    Oct 21, 2005
    Hello all. Thankyou Fred for leading me to this board. Alittle about myself; I recently retired from the Coast Guard in '99 as a Chief Engineer and opened a Locksmith Business after taking a mail order course. My business has been blessed with much success and has since allowed me to build a small strip mall containing 6 Retail spaces. The ajoining unit to my Locksmith Store (1200sq ft) will be vacant 1 Nov and I am considering opening a sign business. We have been doing research over the web, ordered several books and tapes (thanks to some advice on another board and Fred) and contacted Summa inquiring about their D60 plotter ($1795.00 with 1/2 off software FlexiSign). Fred has given me a list of startup inventory and Wholesale suppliers.

    I am looking forward to networking with the members of this board if we decide to jump-in this business. We should be making a decision soon.

    Could get $850 per month for the adjoining unit or run a potentially prosperous sign business. Any suggestion?

    Any comments about the Summa D60 (starup plotter) or software would be appreciated along with a list of inventory that I may need during my initial opening?

    Hope to hear from you all soon

    God Bless

    Bill
     
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  2. justgraphics

    justgraphics Member

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    :Welcome: from Georgia
     
  3. VinylCraft

    VinylCraft Active Member

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    Welcome Bill..
     
  4. Git-R-Done

    Git-R-Done Member

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    Welcome Bill. Good luck with the new business venture.
     
  5. ENTDesign

    ENTDesign Very Active Member

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    Welcome from Michigan
     
  6. Bigdawg

    Bigdawg Just Me

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    Welcome Bill - you'll find this board to be a valuable resource for starting up!
     
  7. Marlene

    Marlene Major Contributor

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    Hi:Welcome:

    You're at the right place to ask any questions you might have. What kind of signs are you thinking of making? It looks like vinyl from the equipment you're buying. If you plan on having an employee, get one that knows design as there is no machine that can do that for you.
     
  8. Blazingsun

    Blazingsun Active Member

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    :Welcome: from Long Island New York.
     
  9. WVB

    WVB Very Active Member

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    :Welcome: Bill to :signs101: glad you came over from that other board :thumb: If you are the same person, you will see a huge difference between the two and gain much knowledge here.
     
  10. gtjet

    gtjet Active Member

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    Welcome Bill from Wyo-Braska.
    Good luck with the business.
    Post a thread about good suppliers in your area or suppliers that ship free and fast out of your area, that will help with inventory. Local suppler would be able to familarize you with different vinyls (cast, calandered, etc), different substrates - dibond, mdo, sign foam, etc. They can even help you with samples of the materials, then you can ask questions as they come up. I'll bet Fred W. can steer you in the right direction on clip art. Don't forget that you can search the archives too, often that is the quickest answer available for your questions, as it is likely someone has asked the question before, or a similar question Good luck.
     
  11. Derf

    Derf Very Active Member

    I have a d60 and its a good cutter but not as good as my old Graphtec FC-2100-60. I wish I would have bought the new Graphtec FC-5100 instead I got the CE-3000 line. the CE-3000 cuts more accurate that the D60 however tracking sucks on the CE-3000 and is much better on the D-60. so I cut all my small type on the CE-3000 and the long stuff on the D-60.

    If I were you I would get the FC-5100 in what ever size you think you will need. I will be buying a FC-5100 -130 (54") soon so I can cut out my prints from my printer.

    Good luck!
     
  12. GregT

    GregT Very Active Member

    :Welcome: from PA
     
  13. ChiefBL

    ChiefBL Member

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    Thanks all for your replies...already see the value of this board. Got a couple books in so far, waiting for some tapes. Derf thanks for the plotter experience, think the D60 would be a good initial cutter. Will have to add more equipment as the market dictates.

    Bill
     
  14. Cadmn

    Cadmn Very Active Member

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    Bill My question would be why enter into a business that will take time & effort when you could sit back & draw 850 a month on an already made investment. I just ?? I would just think taking the 850 compared to possibly more possibly much less gamble. then thats probably wrong thinking but we all have thoughts.
     
  15. ChiefBL

    ChiefBL Member

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    That's the question I have been asking myself. Although the $850 is a sure thing, I am looking for a way out of my Locksmith business in a small town (everyone is related to everyone)without disappointing my client base . Although my Locksmith business has been a true blessing from God, It has also required my services for 24/7 the past 5 years. I have responded to thousands of calls late into the evening and early AM weekends included. It's taking it's toll. No vacations. Don't get me wrong, the business has taken me and my family from living in an apartment for 6 months on $1200 military retirement pay to grossing $18K per month in 5 years, plus allowed me to re-invest in the construction of 6200 sq feet commercial retail spaces, but It is virtually impossible to find, reliable, honest Locksmiths that won't drag my name to to ground or steal After hours calls, so that leave's me providing 24hr service for continuous growth, I can no longer handle. My thoughts are, open the sign business, as my wife's business (so my Locksmith accounts won't know my future intentions, thus jepardizing my Locksmith income) and work Locksmithing and Graphics, until the sign business takes off. If it looks like the sign business will outperform the Locksmithing, I'll turn Locksmithing over to my brother, which just started working for me (12 yr exerience) or Sell it. Your right.....seems much easier to take the $850!! Could just sell the Locksmith business and start all over with the sign business, but we have become acustom to the lifestyle...The Locksmith business was just meant to be a transitional trade, since I was unemployed after retiring from the CG. I believe I would enjoy Sign making and having my nights and weekends back with my family. I have been gifted with artistic abilities, that could go well with graphics. But, your right what a task to pull off. Thanks for your thoughts...vitually no one to talk to about this. Just spewing at the mouth. Thanks for listening
     
  16. HSG

    HSG Guest

    Are you opening a franchise or doing this on your own? Signage is not like your locksmith buisness. When I started doing this 20 years ago, I had no experiance. and you could tell. It took me several years of practice and reading trade magazines to design decent looking signage. Being artistic doesn't mean you will be good at this either. Design and layout skills are different from basic art talent. Before you invest, start doing layouts for yourself and fictitional clients that you can display as samples in your shop. everyone has a computer. Buy Illustrator and become familiar with it. My immediate competition in the area thought this was a good way to make a quick buck too. He has no layout and design skills at all, even after doing this for a few years and his lettering is awful. He does mostly vehicle graphics which come pretty much laid out for you already. I try to avoid working for kids and their cars as they drive you crazy over color and design. I have herniated disks so vehicle wraps on cars are hard on me. Some people make it in this buisness and some can't. It's a big investment to jump into blindly. Make sure it's for you and your wife before you do it. Are you going to limit the type of jobs you do? One job can lead to another completely different job. There are times it can be physically demanding. Graphics on 40' tour buses. I've done entire makeovers for large buisnesses. Billboards, building signage, interior, tractor trailors and vans. Reseach it out first. If you are looking for easy stress free money, this is not the direction to go. I don't want to be discouraging, I found out I had a talent for it. You and your wife might too.

    HSG
     
  17. Craig Sjoquist

    Craig Sjoquist Major Contributor

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    a big welcome to a wonderful industry .... it's obvious that you'll have no problem in business ... advertising design requires color, contrast, balance, image createting plus it needs to be interesting to look at ....mike stevens book will help with that, along with dan antonelli's books.. I went thourgh 4years school to learn what they wrote and a 10 year apperntise ... so start with simple stuff and stay with that for awhile .... have fun and enjoy.
     
  18. ChiefBL

    ChiefBL Member

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    Thanks HSG & craig!

    HSG thanks for a more in depth day-to-day expectation of the industry. Really appreciate your advice. No, I am opening another, mom and pop, not franchise. My initial goal is to treat the business as a "hobby" with a learning curve, eventually leading to profitability (similar to my locksmith venture). I would spend a couple months building out a nice modern atmosphere in the store and outfit it with the basic equipment required to do vinyl signs. Also using those months to practice with the software , vinyls, snd substrates. Upgrades and more demanding jobs would be incrementally accepted as our knowledege, skills and confidence improved. I believe my Locksmith business and Rentals net enough to basically lend (finance) and deduct my startup long enough to learn the trade. there would be virtually no overhead. No rent, just utilities. No need for employees or personal income. This could go on for months. We will know more once we finish watching the tapes and delve into the actual sign designing process as you mentioned. I designed my own logo and have recieved numerous requests from Locksmith clients to do the same for them. They were willing to pay me, but, I wasn't interested at the time. My vans are highly visible with reflective gold and blue colors. I had an aquaintance in the sign business take my drawing and clean it up on his computer, print them for me, and I installed them on all my service vans and store front windows. Humbly, I thought it was absolutely easy and enjoyable. Would have loved to gotten on his computer and played with the logo myself. :) I realize that the startup cost isn't low, but like all businesses, there is a calculated risk involved, that is unavoidable.Still in the "should we do it phase.

    thanks again
     
  19. WVB

    WVB Very Active Member

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    If you are tired of the hours why not run it yourself from 9-5 and higher someone else to run the calls after hours? Seems like you are making good with the present business and all.
     
  20. ChiefBL

    ChiefBL Member

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    Oct 21, 2005
    True, but unfortunately, "the amercan dream" to most americans is "give it to me, free, I derserve it, I'm american" mentality leads to employee theft. My brother has experienced this the past 15 years in his business, firing every employee for theft, the last one stole over 30K. No thanks....not willing to deal with that. After hr emergency calls are cash only. Locksmith's have come up with many ways around claiming the services rendered. Not to mention personnally conducting their own business with company van, gas, equipment and inventory. I could shut the phone off after 10Pm till 8 AM, but stand the chance of missing a call from a business manager. Most commercial clients depend on having emergency assistance available. I could monitor the employees very closely, but who needs that.
     
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