Sign & Digital Graphics

November '19

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14 • November 2019 • S I G N & D I G I T A L G R A P H I C S B Y M A T T C H A R B O N E A U Designing Award-Winning Signs Planning an Electric Monument Sign Making sure you have a solid process for completing your project on time L et's face it, one of the reasons you are reading this article is because you are part of an industry that obviously must provide you some sort of emotional paycheck. You may have tried other industries, but for some reason, the sign industry is different—especially when you are talking about the electric sign industry. You have found that the challenges and successes that come with the job provide you a certain emotional paycheck that other career choices either can't or won't provide. When you are fortunate enough to really enjoy what you do, you approach every aspect of your job with an attitude of taking accountability for the project as if your name was on it, as if it is your company. It's a commitment to doing it right every time and by taking responsibility for the role you play in the electric sign process. It's what I refer to as "owning your work." This article will discuss planning the process that is used by sign shops for electric monument or other electric sign projects. I believe that the goal of any process is to provide a road map for the team to follow for the purpose of eliminating costly mistakes and to provide a way to allow team members to adjust certain aspects of the project in order to keep it moving through the shop. Some newer, less-experienced sign shops don't fully under- stand which aspects of the project are written in stone, and which are flexible throughout the fabrication process. This is where planning for the unknown becomes vital, and having a staff of committed team players is key to keeping the sign between the lines until it's installed. So, you may wonder why I am starting out the article talking about the emotional side of our decision to be in this industry. (I'm sure my editor is currently scratching his head also, won- dering where I am going with this). The answer to that question, in my most humble 34-plus years of experience in this industry, is because attitude is every- thing. No matter how hard you try to design and implement a process, if your team members aren't really "into" what their role is at the company or what is being fabricated, your process will have hiccups. This is true for any industry and if, as you are reading this, the little sign person voice inside your head is telling you that you don't have a team of committed employees, the rest of this article won't really help you much until you improve that. It doesn't take long to see how important attitude really is when a relatively new employee starts to lose their focus and motivation when they realize that this sign industry gig isn't what they thought it would be. There are a lot of details to keep track of; approvals from the client, permissions from the city, and those wonderful client voicemails that get left on a cell phone saying: "Oh yeah, hey, I was just calling to make sure you saw my Facebook post last week about changing the color back to white?" Since 1985, Matt Charboneau has owned and operated Charboneau Design and Consulting in Davenport, Iowa. He is a con- sultant and designer for monument, chan- nel letter and pylon sign projects. His book, "The Pre-Sale Sign Survey Field Guide -- The how-to guide on sign surveys for the profes- sional sign salesperson" can be ordered on his website: or by emailing him at ARCHITECTURAL AND ENVIRONMENTAL We learned a couple of lessons on this sign. This was the largest sign we had made up to this point with bullnose ends. We used too thick of an aluminum along with a very rigid alloy. We kerf-cut the frame and tried to screw the aluminum to the kerf. We had to use so many screws to hold the wrapped aluminum to the frame that it looked like Frankensign. We removed the ends and sent the metal off to be rolled. Pre-rolled metal worked great. We also had a new painter and this was the first metallic silver sign that we had painted this large and there were many streaks. We had to sand down the entire sign and repaint it.

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