GRAPHICS PRO

October '21

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1 2 6 G R A P H I C S P R O O C T O B E R 2 0 2 1 G R A P H I C S - P R O. C O M department head handle the distribution, and is the timing at their discretion? Are the sales and production teams acknowl- edged at different events or at different times? STRATEGY NO. 9 - BE HONEST No one likes to be strung along, least of all your customer. If you run into inventory shortages, be honest with your customers. Likely, they are also experiencing short- ages in their industry. There may be no other solution other than patience when the goods are not available. Don't make excuses. Be transparent about when the in- ventory is expected and do everything you can to acquire it when it becomes available. It is not our customers' job to think like an apparel decoration professional. They excel at what they do and rely on us to excel as their apparel advisor and branded product coordinator. Communication with your customer is more important than ever. When you understand what they want, what they need, and when they need it by, you can offer multiple accept- able solutions, ideally. If all you say is, "It is not in stock," that customer is likely to contact another apparel decorator to see what other options are available. Creativity, persistence, and flexibility win the day and the orders, helping you overcome or outsmart the inventory chal- lenges our industry is experiencing. We are all in the midst of an unpredictable experience testing our mental, financial, and emotional well-being. If there was ever a time for resilience — to improvise, adapt and overcome — this is it. GP JENNIFER COX is one of the founders and serves as president of the National Network of Embroidery Professionals (NNEP), an organization that supports embroidery and apparel decoration professionals with programs and services designed to increase profitability and production. You can contact her at jennifer@nnep.com. continued from page 27 STITCH SOLUTIONS ally all have been modified. Long ago, we added a tabletop surface for our one larger puncher, which was shop-made as well. None of these shop tools sit in the corner without being used, and since we have several, we can always keep different- sized hole punchers in our various units. Another punch setup, mostly unique to our shop, is a table unit I built that incorporates two off-the-shelf punches, modified to bolt in place to a table. The punches were permanently spaced exactly 14 1/2" apart to fit the standard yard sign frame hole pattern. Using shop-made pushrods and a swiv- eling foot pedal, this double-barrel hole punch has "drilled" holes in so many oil- field and real estate signs they would be hard to count. The pictures shown here are from when our little creation was new, and I was a little "newer" myself since this was several years ago. I have written about it before, but it is probably a rather unique variation worth mentioning as it is still used in our shop virtually every day, and that has been the case for at least a dozen years. The illustrations accompanying this article show the simplicity of our work modifying these sheet metal punching tools into much more useful work items. But my guess is that few shops take the time to make these improvements. For us, the time and effort required for these simple improvements have been to- tally worth the effort. With the right tools, sign shop work is faster, easier, more ac- curate, and perhaps a bit more fun, which is good for our clients, and certainly good for us. GP RICK WILLIAMS owns Rick's Sign Company, a commercial sign shop in Longview, Texas. He has been in the sign industry since 1973 and has been a contributing editor to Sign Business and Sign & Digital Graphics since 1986. Contact Rick via email at ricksignco@aol.com. continued from page 85 SHOP TALK WORK SURFACE Years ago, we built a wood production table and cut a section out of it that we mounted a light fixture under. It didn't look the greatest, and if we left the light on too long, it would warm and tempo- rarily warp our cutting mat, but it did the trick in providing a backlight for align- ing graphics or cutting hard-to-see weed borders. While we have other small production tables with cutting mat surfaces, our ap- plication table is our primary work surface. The entire table is backlit under a glass sur- face, which is overlaid with a self-healing cutting mat. The backlighting is excellent illumination in the production area for general weeding and cutting but is especially helpful when cutting white vinyl or aligning multiple col- ors. Quick tip: If you're still having a hard time seeing your weed borders for accurate cutting, try flipping the graphics over and cutting from the back or turn off overhead lighting, which allows the backlighting to make the edges easier to see. TOOL STORAGE Another simple but unbelievably helpful feature of the table is storage trays on each side. The trays are removable if you want to sit at the table without your knees hit- ting, but we use the trays. Knives, squeegees, scissors, pens, tape measures, and masking tape are stocked on each side. The table also included a long-reach cutter so that mask and graph- ics can be cut across the table's width from one side. It has a magnet on the back so the tool can be hung from the metal table or set in the storage tray. GP CHARITY JACKSON is co-owner of Visual Horizons Custom Signs based in Modesto, California. She has been in business since 1995 and has worked in the sign industry for over 25 years. You can visit her website at www.vhsigns.com. continued from page 89 APPLICATION TABLES

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