Signs always come last.
As anyone in the signage business knows all too well, signs are often the final items to be produced and placed in most projects. The venue may be a stadium, a public building, or a multi-story office tower, but interior signage—especially wayfinding signs—are often last minute additions, even though they may have been specified and designed months in advance. Ironically, this even happens at trade shows for the signage industry. It was that very lapse in planning that made Bill Baker’s phone ring a few days prior to the big ISA trade show held in Las Vegas in March of 2017.
“Bob Greenberger from Nova Polymers called me on a Thursday, asking for two 30 x 40-inch signs for ISA, that had to be on site in about a week,” recounts Baker, owner and president of Park Place Signs in Hannibal, Missouri. “The signs were ‘in-kind donations’ to the ISA show from Nova Polymers. They included an exhibitor list with booth numbers, and a map of the show floor to make finding booths as easy as possible for attendees.” Of course, the “last-minute rule” was being applied in full force, with the floor map and lists needed not being immediately available for Baker and his team at Park Place Signs.
“Bob asked that we use Novacryl materials to give the two signs a unique look with raised text,” says Baker, “so after we analyzed the materials and the overall design, we concentrated on using raised text and color for the headers and footers to make them stand out. We were able to process the Novacryl material, paint it, add digital printing, a protective coating, and have the signs ready for delivery in three days.”
Logos and images added to the challenge, but thanks to Novacryl, Park Place’s efforts wound up being a step above exhibitor lists and maps donated by other suppliers. Those used digital printing for the entire sign, so the signs were entirely flat. Park Place used 1/8-inch photopolymer to raise the headers and footers above the surface, then tipped on a contrasting color using a proprietary paint process Baker’s team has developed.
“We tipped in multiple colors on the raised text, put in raised rectangles and squares and also integrated a photograph,” says Baker. “What also made it unique was the very tight time frame, the number of processes used, and our ability to get the job in-house, turn it around, and have it to the show on time.”
Yet at the same time, he admits, rush jobs and other fire drills are commonplace in the sign business. “It’s really not that much out of the ordinary,” admits Baker. “We have solid support from our employees, have excellent partnerships with suppliers like Nova Polymers and Matthews Paint, use the latest equipment, and have developed techniques that help us consistently produce very high-end signs.”
Baker says Park Place has continually adapted to the nature of the sign business. “It can take three years to put up a building but no one thinks about the signs until a week before the occupancy permit is needed. Then they call us! It’s not that you necessarily enjoy working miracles, but we have the team and the tools to give our customers what they need, when they need it.“