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Dale Salamacha

Check Your Ego Before Taking That Big Sign Job

Your bank account and “superego” will thank you.

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Don’t get hypnotized by the notoriety that may come along with big projects like this one, which still haunts our financial nightmares. Don’t get hypnotized by the notoriety that may come along with big projects like this one, which still haunts our financial nightmares.

ONE OF THE OVERWHELMING tasks about writing this column every month is, “What the hell am I going to write about this month?!” Most times it’s daunting to come up with a subject not only interesting so you guys will actually read it, but also to present a topic that benefits my readers.

But I’ll let you in on a little secret: The unbelievable stories, the crazy projects and the existential viewpoints this column has delivered over the past decade are every bit for me as well as for you. This column is my “therapy” … though maybe that isn’t the correct word. It’s more a monthly dose of vitamin B. Some columns are tasty, orange-flavored candy chews, and some feel like a 20-gauge steel needle jammed dead into my … well, use your imagination.

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The point is, I write about real-world scenarios, issues and triumphs that occur at Media 1 daily, and this month’s topic is no exception. It’s a principle I struggle with to this very day, much to the chagrin of my business partner Rick Ream.

You see, occasionally I will sell a project we have no business doing. We pride ourselves as a design/build shop, meaning we don’t want to do a hundred Starbucks locations this year. That would be no fun at all. We like building projects no one has ever done before, or at least ones we haven’t — over-the-top, headline-stealing structures that make a huge visual splash (appealing to our “id”). Signs we are ridiculously proud of because we built them (and feed our “ego”).

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Amazon distribution facilities all over the nation, 8,000-lb. arched aluminum canopies for nationwide Seasons 52 locations, massive Camping World Stadium signs that don’t fit out our shop doors, the San Antonio Spurs new practice facility… All badass, high-profile projects that get us notability. Which makes us happy (big ego)! The only problem is, these types of projects don’t necessarily bring us the most profit. Which makes our bank account sad (as well as our “superego,” our self-critical conscience).

Dammit! Why does profit have to precede creativity?! Because apparently, that’s why we’re in business in the first place. To make a profit. Not only for your family and your legacy, but for all your employees and their families too.

Am I saying not to pursue these types of projects? Not to all of you. Plenty of sign companies across America thrive in the big-time arena. But they also have decades of experience doing just that… Meanwhile, where do we make our most profit? Channel letters. Vehicle wraps. Monument signs. Projects within our home state of Florida! (Proximity is important, too).

These are the signs we have been steadily knocking out for the past three decades. They are rote. We know exactly how to build them because we’ve built them hundreds of times before.

So, while we (OK, mostly me) crave the giant projects for notoriety, they exist outside our typical wheelhouse, and if your shop is not set up to do this type of work, these jobs take too long and cost too much. Stick to what you’re best at. Your bank account (and superego) will thank you.

And while I’m here taking this month’s needle shot, Rick is attempting to hide an RFQ for a 126-ft. over-roadway arch for the City of Kissimmee, FL … But Rick, it would be so cool!

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Dale Salamacha is the co-owner of Media 1/Wrap This (Sanford, FL). Contact Dale at dale@media1signs.com.

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