Follow-up: Bert Quimby
Riverdale, New Jersey
Posted on Wednesday, March 1st, 2017
2000 sq. ft.
First featured in SignCraft:
Facebook: Bert Graphix
You have to flip all the way back to the November/December 1987 issue of SignCraft to find the first feature on Bert Quimby. Outside of a move to a larger shop, he’s still churning out his brand of vehicle graphics for New Jersey’s unique truck lettering market.
There are a few differences—one of which is returning to hand lettering for more of his work. He still uses computer-cut vinyl for some of his work, but the emphasis is on hand lettering, where his roots in the business are.
“About 75% of my work is hand-lettered,” Bert says. “I really push it because I like doing it. I figure I only have so much time left in my life, and I want to do what I like to do.
“It’s not practical for me to hand letter the side of the box truck. But for a set of truck doors, it’s great. I can knock them out in a day. When people walk in here and see me with a brush in my hand, usually their doors are blown off. They really like the idea of having their truck hand-lettered.
“I’m doing a wrecker right now for a guy who asked me if I would do it by hand. He said he didn’t want any stickers on it. It is an expensive truck and he wants a nice job on it. Most of my customers are like that. They want to have something no one else has.”
With thousands of trucks behind him, most of Bert’s work comes from repeat customers and referrals. He also posts regularly on Facebook and Instagram.
“Think about it for a minute,” he says. “I’ve been in business for 35 years. Get just 10 repeat customers every year for each of those 35 years and you’ve got a great volume.
“People ask me what the secret is. It’s no secret, though. I’m fast and I do what I say I am going to do. I return all my phone calls. You’d be surprised how many sign people don’t do a good job at that. I’m not some artist that you can’t get in touch with.
“You have to be dependable or you will lose customers—and they’ll tell others that you aren’t dependable. You don’t need to turn prospective customers off like that.”
Bert, now 58, has also taken some of the pressure off, and doesn’t do the same volume—or long days—that he used to. Down the line, Bert says he may move and change the focus of his work a bit.
“I’m getting older,” Bert says, “and I don’t work the hours I used to. I go home at the end of the day and have a life. But that comes with age. We all know that.
“Our daughter lives in Baltimore, right downtown near the harbor. My wife and I visit there often and really like it. We talk about moving there and getting a loft space. It’s a great town and it’s good to be downtown. You can walk and ride your bike and there’s a lot of action.
“I’d still want to do lettering there but not truck lettering. Hand lettering is really coming back for interior work in businesses like cafés and pubs and breweries. I’d like to do that. Besides, I’ll never retire. I like what I do too much.”