Premier Signs & Design
Shop size: 2750 sq. ft.
54- and 64-in. Mutoh
Gerber Sabre router
Mutoh Kona 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.