Profile: Danny Dean
By SignCraft Magazine
Posted on Friday, August 31st, 2018
Dynamic Signs Design
1200 sq. ft.
Danny and Sherry Dean
Graphtec FC-5100 cutter
ULTRA-Flex Cloud-based sign making software
On Facebook as Dynamic Signs Design
Back in 1980, Danny Dean picked up a lettering brush and “realized I had found a job no one could take away from me.” He was living in the Cedar Rapids, Iowa, area, where he learned the trade from a sign painter named Tom Carter.
In 1998, he and Sherry, his wife, took a vacation to Wisconsin and were taken by the beauty of the Northwoods region. It seemed like a great place to live and work, so they made the move. They’ve spent over two decades growing their business and making signs for the small businesses, resorts and farms there. On a busy summer afternoon SignCraft asked Danny about his work and his shop:
The shop and the market:
I’ve been at my current location for about 20 years. Like everyone, I’ve had to grow and change with the times. Originally I was a sign painter and did everything by hand. I still do hand lettering and pinstriping, but it’s more of a treat than an everyday way of doing things. Today, most things need to be done quickly and effectively to be profitable.
Most of the time, it’s just Sherry, my wife, and me in the shop. Sometimes I hire a little help when it gets really busy or for larger projects. Our shop is about 30-by-30-ft. plus the office, which is where the computer and vinyl cutter are. It’s a humble little place, nothing special, but it works for us.
I have a wood shop and a vinyl cutter, but don’t have a digital printer. For me, it’s easier to outsource my printing and do the rest of the production myself. The printer is a big expense, and you would have to keep looking at ways to keep the printer busy.
Rice Lake is a town of about 8000—it’s not a big town. Most of my work is within a 50-mile radius of the shop. It’s a vacation area with a lot of outdoor activities.
There are a lot of lakefront resorts here, and when I moved here I thought that would be a great market. I’m doing more of that now, but I never really got as much work out of that market as I thought I would. Most of my customers are small business owners around the area.
In a small town, it takes time to gain people’s trust. But once you do, and they realize that you’re trustworthy and reliable and concerned about doing a good job for them, you’ve won them over.
I’ve found that how you talk with your customers really matters. If you take the time to explain your design approach and the materials you use in a sensible, knowledgeable way, you will gain their trust, and the rest is history. They become very loyal customers.