All-Star Signs in the Driving Seat with Flexi
“I’m passionate about signs, and I love what I do,” has become part of the way Robert Wales, owner of All-Star Signs, Bethlehem, Ga., introduces himself. With more than thirty years in signmaking, he wants each sign to demonstrate his commitment to design and quality.
“In 1985, I was working for a screenprinting company and doing some sign work on the side,” Wales explains. “One of the people I was working for offered me a job that would enable me to make signs full time and I’ve been doing it ever since.”
However, that’s not strictly true: Wales works in one of the country’s few remaining processing labs for motion picture film after which he designs and makes signs, visits customers and carries out installations.
An SAi Flexi user for 15 years, Wales began using the sign-making software for design and cutting with a Graphtec cutter that came with an OEM version. Cut vinyl lettering remains a major portion of his business –even after adding a 54-inch Roland VersaCAMM VS-540i Eco-Solvent Inkjet Printer in 2017.
Wales has SAi Flexi on the desktop computer that drives the printer and cutter as well as a non-printer-enabled version on a laptop that he takes to customer sites to develop design ideas or make modifications.
Attention to Detail
Using Flexi in this way gives the business a very powerful combination of software and hardware that ensures high quality results. A look at All-Star Signs’ website and Facebook pages reveals not only the quality and diversity of his company’s work, but demonstrates a rare sensitivity to the function of the signage.
“Signs have a job to do,” he says. “That means the signs have to be suited to where they are displayed. For example, the sign on a building is meant to be viewed from a minimum of 10 feet away; sometimes from across the street, or even further. The message has to be clear.
“You’d be surprised how many people want their building signs to look like the logos on their letterhead which is read from 10-inches away and may have details and straplines that would be illegible on a building,” he adds.
Some of All-Star Signs’ signage is clearly designed and positioned to suit the features or character of the building, so they look part of the design of the whole façade, not just something that was slapped on. While All-Star Signs makes cut signs and prints vinyl, it also works closely with fabricators for the production of steel, aluminum and illuminated signs.
“Vehicle graphics are the same,” Wales continues. “I’ve told a lot of customers that they would be better off with one sign on the rear of their vehicles than with signs on each door. With luck, they’ll buy three, but the point is that when you’re stuck in traffic, you read the signs in front of you, not on the doors.
“Many customers have told me that they get calls while they’re sitting in traffic from the person behind them who has read the sign and wants to set up a meeting,” he says. “This is the sort of thing signs should do.”
Regardless of the type of sign, Wales is committed to quality as well as design.
“I always use the best materials because you know that with good materials, the colors won’t fade for a decade and they won’t peel from the edges. It’s a source of great frustration to see jobs – often for municipalities – that I’ve bid for and lost starting to fade and peel after just a few years,” he explains.
Flexi Use Leads to New Business Opportunities
All-Star Signs has recently developed a new niche market in vehicle gauge faces.
“I saw an advertisement for custom gauges and ordered one for my 2002 Pontiac Trans Am,” says Wales. “I was disappointed when it arrived as it had been hand-cut and, for example, the opening around the odometer wasn’t crisp. Rather than complain, I called the supplier and said I thought I could cut these better automatically using the design and cut features of Flexi. As a result of that call, I now print and cut these for Firebirds and Chevy Cameros and also handle other fulfillment for the supplier.”
Customers can make a number of choices for the gauges: fonts, speed intervals, color, or printing their logos, initials or names.
“Using Flexi makes it so much simpler to edit, manipulate and do all the things I want to do with the design,” he says. “Storing the files is easy, so design time can be saved when printing repeat or nearly similar jobs.”
The number of these jobs can fluctuate depending on the publicity the Cameros and Firebirds get during any month, but there has been recent interest from other vehicle owners.
“I’ve done a few motorcycle gauges and that’s a market for potential growth, too,” he says. “These gauge faces bring interesting design challenges and delivering what the customer wants is paramount. To me, a repeat customer is better than a new one, because it means I’ve done my job right.”
Wales is loyal to the suppliers he uses and when that loyalty is rewarded with good service, it’s working both ways.
“I’ve had very few issues with SAi Flexi over the years,” Wales concludes. “Mostly it’s been about upgrades and transferring licenses. I’ve always had a response within 24-hours, and they’ve taken the time to walk me through the process. I’ve always felt taken care of and can get back to my work with confidence.”
The preceding press release was provided by a company unaffiliated with Wide-Format Impressions. The views expressed within do not directly reflect the thoughts or opinions of Wide-Format Impressions.