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Subcontracting Electric Signage

(May 2017) posted on Mon May 15, 2017

The good, the bad and the ugly.

By Darek Johnson

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Of course, other legal entanglements can exist, but two are etched in stone: The buyer won’t pay for an undelivered sign and the sign seller is the contract-bound provider required to provide and install an undamaged, workable sign within the agreed delivery time, even if they (the seller) must rebuild it at their own expense. Any pre-install, accident-caused damage is the responsibility of the sign seller and is unrelated to the sign buyer.

If your shop produces vinyl letters and print graphics and the staff is highly skilled with software and produces excellent design work, then adding an industrial element to the shop may be inharmonious with the company character. This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t get into electric signage, but you might look at creating a separate division and hiring someone with sign fabrication and installation experience to run it. Oppositely, if you’re a person who enjoys mechanics and electrical processes are second nature, working with electric signs would be much easier than for someone who, for example, excels at design. However, this isn’t the plank’s end.

As with any major change within a signshop, taking on new types of work requires more than just figuring out how to do it because even more central is the nature of the manager or owner and if they have the personality, trust, interest – and an ability to understand and enjoy the new work. Thus, channel letters may not float your boat, but other electric signs might. Flat-screen signage, for example, is advertised under too many names to remember but may be best identified as electronic digital signage (EDS). It’s a direction to explore if your shop has no electronics experience; you’re essentially selling television screens that, artlessly put, can be hung from a nail. The simplest content programming is like assembling a PowerPoint presentation.

You can find starter EDS kits online, ones that include simple software for producing content. From this foundation, you can explore the design and sales of touchscreen systems, wayfinding systems, video walls and large-scale, LED video displays. Planar (Alexandria, VA), for example, provides consultation and products for LCD, LED and rear- projection systems, as well as large-format EDS systems with the necessary processors and control stations. It also offers a content developer program. Many other such firms are listed on the Internet.

I’ll close by saying the flat-screen (EDS) sign market is much easier to enter and has less need for fabrication, construction and installation expertise, thus a fitting expansion sphere for small signshops.


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