This year at the International Sign Association's (ISA) International Sign Expo 2015, instead of going to the show with a broad spectrum of interest, we went in search of a few specific categories of signage products that are a unique part what is making us current and stand out from others.
One of our main focuses was custom routers and routing material, accessories. We are currently routing all of our own materials (plastic lettering, channel letter faces, custom shaped / 3-Dimensional signage). There is a large market with machines like these and we have one of the largest in the region, making us capable of very precise in-house fabrication without outsourcing to larger, wholesale companies.
We gained a lot of information about our machine, other machines, what we can do to be more successful and what we can do to avoid or fix any issues that can cost time and money, while making some great contacts with companies if we ever decide that an upgrade is necessary.
Another large market that is swarming conventions like the ISA show is Electronic Message Centers (LED Boards) - Although in a town like Valparaiso these are still an up-and-coming product because of some signage restrictions, many towns are are switching their old manual changeable-copy letter boards for these eye-catching LED message centers to gain attraction to their business.
With so many companies selling these boards, it was extremely important for us to meet with them in person, see all of the products they have to offer so that we know we are choosing the best quality product at the best price and relaying those credentials and saving onto our customers.
We are an ever-growing company. We started with one printer 8 years ago, we are currently using 3 printers and in search of adding more. Technology develops quickly in the sign industry, which doesn't necessarily mean we are using outdated equipment, but there is always room for better, faster, more precise machines that can save us and the customer money and time. As our company broadens its customer base, we must expand our company and its resources to accompany the growth, which is seemingly increasing each year.
We are also a "full-service" sign company. This means we don't just design and fabricate signage, we also have a full crew of trucks that service and install signage. We have crane, auger, and bucket truck that are in the field, working hard every day - and when you run your trucks every day, even with monthly maintenance, things can go wrong.
So, another important part of the ISA show was to explore new service truck options. Although a new service truck can be a very expensive and lengthy investment, if we don't have trucks then you don't see us in the field, and we believe that a major part of keeping relevant in the signage industry is for customers to see your company name proudly displayed while on the road or at an installation. We love when people see our trucks and let us know about our work.
The materials we use (vinyls, plastics, metals, adhesives, etc.) all reflect the kind of final product we put out. So if we don't know the products we use, then customers may go elsewhere for their next sign, so we like to keep up to date on the anything new on the market.
There is often advances in the development of new vinyls and vehicle wrap materials, new accessories to make vinyl application easier and quicker, and also better material that will last longer. Especially in extreme weather conditions like we have in Indiana, knowing your vinyls is extremely important.
The ISA Sign Expo, although a hike to Las Vegas, is an amazing networking opportunity to see what's happening in all parts of the country. You see familiar faces each year, get to put faces to vendor's voices you hear daily on the phone, and meet many new vendors as well. Each time we go we learn so much, not just to educate ourselves, but to better our business so that we can keep our hopefully good reputation with our customers and gain potential customers with quality work!