Ofterschwang, Bavaria, Germany
Posted on Friday, February 28th, 2020
Manfred Didier and Marcus Goebel
5000 sq. ft.
Manfred is 50; Marcus is 51
Gerber Sabre 408 CNC router
Gerber Omega software
Gerber GS15 plotter
Summa T610 plotter
On Instagram @timbersigns
For the most part, there’s not really much new here—we’re still doing the same custom three-dimensional signs we’ve done since we opened back in 1998. We’ve never been the classic local sign guys. Our work is very specialized. Our market has always been dimensional signs for breweries, hotels and restaurants.
For several years, we did a lot of trade shows to promote our work, because we realized that we couldn’t specialize in the type of work we did and just serve our local market. In Europe, most trade shows last six to nine days, then you have the time spent setting up the booth before the show and tearing it down after. So it takes you more like two weeks overall.
When you do six or seven shows per year, it means 12 to 14 weeks of that work. It took us away from the shop, so we had to work hard when we got back to the shop to stay caught up. Overwork is hard on your health. It catches up with you.
A few years after we were featured in SignCraft, Marcus got totally burned out from overwork and got very sick. We closed the shop for almost two years. I also worked on my own health then—losing 140 pounds. It was a good investment in our health, and we are both doing well now. We learned our lesson.
Since reopening, we have been targeting high-end customers. We don’t do much of what you might consider average sign work. Some of our customers are large breweries who call on us for very special jobs. We still do hotels and golf clubs and restaurants, too. With just two of us, there is more than enough to keep us busy.
Another change would be that I’ve married. [Laughing.] Nicole, my wife, is a hairdresser who uses only natural products—no harsh chemicals—and has opened her own business recently. One of our projects for the spring will be making her a new dimensional sign.
We no longer do the trade shows. We have a steady flow of work from our existing customers. Close to 80% of our work goes far outside our area—Austria, Denmark, Italy, Finland and even Dubai. The trade shows helped us build a market outside our area. We even did a hotel and restaurant show in Dubai at one point.
We’re working on a new website to help with our marketing. We use social media, too— Facebook and Instagram—to promote the work we like to do.
In the past, we didn’t get many referrals for our type of sign work from our customers. Our customers didn’t want other businesses in their area to have a sign like theirs. Some even peeled our “Timber Signs” sticker off their sign. For many years, they kept us as their secret.
On one hand, it was kind of a compliment to know that they saw our work as something very special, but on the other hand, it didn’t really help our marketing. [Laughing.]