Printed vinyl on aluminum composite panel on a Peachtree Foamcraft Model 27 monument
Printed reflective vinyl text and graphics
LED-illuminated channel letters with printed translucent vinyl film
Router-cut acrylic letters and logo with secondary text on metal panel
Cut high-performance vinyl film
Letters and secondary text are router cut acrylic on aluminum composite panel.
Sign is printed translucent vinyl on acrylic face; LED display is a Watchfire 19mm red monochrome LED display.
Printed and cut high-performance vinyl graphics and text
Cut high-performance vinyl on aluminum composite panel over a steel tube frame
LED-illuminated channel letters with cut translucent vinyl film
Printed 13-oz. banner
Printed and cut vinyl lettering and graphics
Ben Schenck, Justin Hare, Rachel Jackson, Ben Quick and John Hare. Mark Davis was unavailable.

Profile: Justin Hare

Pryor, Oklahoma


Posted on Monday, January 4th, 2016

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Shop name:
Premier Signs & Design

Shop size: 2750 sq. ft.

Staff: Five

Age: 34

Graphics equipment:
54- and 64-in. Mutoh
ValuJet printers
Gerber Sabre router
Mutoh Kona cutter
Graphtek cutter

The way that I found my way into the sign business doesn’t make a very interesting story. A couple months after I got married I found myself laid off from a job I’d had for quite a while. I decided to look for something new in a different field where I could use my creative skills. That landed me in a sign shop in an entry level job. A year later I moved to a larger shop, Fuller Signs.

I worked with Dan Fuller for about nine years. He had a full-service sign shop, doing everything from vinyl signs to illuminated signs. Dan had taken the business over from his father, who started it in 1948, so it had quite a history. I learned a lot, and my father John and I ended up buying the business from him in 2012.

Over the past four years, we worked to continue that tradition as well as grow the business. I renamed it Premier Signs & Design and created a new image for the company on our vehicles, signage and website. Recently we purchased the accounts and some equipment from a nearby shop that was closing. Now we have a CNC machine to play with.

The work and the challenges
I handle a lot of the sales and design, as well as production. Ben Quick and Rachel Jackson do graphic design and sales. Ben Schenck does the service work and installations, and Mark Davis handles sales. Lately, my dad has been helping out on the sales and estimating for digital message boards, which we’re doing more of. It’s a small but efficient team.

We do a lot of vinyl signs, vehicles and banners, along with some illuminated sign work. We work with Watchfire Signs for our LED message boards [www.watchfiresigns. com], which is something we really like to sell. Watchfire is a great partner for this work—very easy to work with. Dan had been doing those for a number of years. We have some that have been up since 1999.

I think I can speak for everyone here that what we really enjoy is the creative process— starting from scratch with what the customer says they need, creating the design and then making the sign. You get to watch it come to life. It’s not an assembly line by any means. There’s a lot of variety, and a lot of challenges. It’s fairly unique to our industry.

One issue I run into is probably an issue for most sign people and perhaps unique to the industry we are in. I feel there is an art to creating effective signs. I also believe that regardless of the type or complexity of the sign being made, most of the public is unaware of the amount of time, labor and equipment that go into making a sign. You have to develop the skills it takes to produce good work day in and day out, be knowledgeable about proper copy layout, and learn the art of using the proper font types and color combinations. You have to be proficient as a graphic designer to create something that is eye-catching, yet readable.

Then you must be the sort of craftsperson who can take those ideas and construct them with the materials unique to our industry to make what’s on the screen or sketchpad come to life. There are so many things that go into a sign that are not necessarily visible to a customer when they think of buying a sign. I’m not sure of the solution. But in a world where the lowest bid so often wins the race, there must be a way for customers to know the value that experience and knowledge brings to the product they are buying.

Small town signage
Pryor is a small town about 45 minutes from Tulsa. We have a large industrial park here, which is one of the largest in the country. That generates a lot of work for us. We also do work in the surrounding communities. There are a lot of small businesses, and we do a lot of that work.

One thing about working for small-town businesses is that budget is almost always an issue. We have to look for creative ways to deliver effective signs while staying within those budgets. Vehicle wraps are a good example. Customers occasionally come in asking about wraps, but soon realize it’s beyond their budget. So we do partial wraps and a lot of vinyl graphics where we utilize the whole vehicle.

I’m sure that’s a challenge for most sign shops. I find it takes a combination of understanding the client’s budget and also educating them about the potential advertising value of their signs. I do my best to keep it practical, but they may need to find a little room in their budget to take advantage of the great advertising that good signage can deliver. When a customer realizes that, you can help them get real value from their signs.

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