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On a Bender

Media 1 makes a third major capital purchase within a year.




Media 1 (Longwood, FL) is done spending money this year. Well, at least that’s what I thought. Apparently, the universe had different plans. If you follow our Shop Ops articles, you know that 2018 was a giant year for Media 1 for capital expenditures.

We bit a $105,000 bullet and acquired a new 7 x 12-ft. MultiCam router table. This purchase has been invaluable. Router production time has been greatly reduced, our cuts are cleaner and the size upgrade (from a 5 x 10-ft. table) has really increased our material options. Add the 3D cutting capabilities, and we no longer tediously hand carve our dimensional items. So all-in-all, we know this has been a perfect purchase.

Then last summer, our 17-year-old bucket truck suffered a fatal breakdown. So we decided to purchase a 2019 Altec LS60 bucket truck, our first new truck ever. Side note: We received a $20,000 repair estimate for the old truck, but haven’t decided if we want to push that much money into it yet, or, as Media 1 partner Damon Coppola suggested, push it over a cliff… but alas, Florida is pretty flat.

And as outlined in the previous article, that Altec was a $200,000 investment, but once again, based upon our financials, a very smart decision, actually saving us money on a monthly basis. So after $300k in capital investments for 2018, we thought for sure we were done. Then, with one phone call, that all changed. 


Like most sign business owners, we have our “Top Ten” clients. They account for the majority of our business, spend the most moolah. Adapting the Pareto Principle (the 80/20 Rule) our Top Ten comprise about 50% of our business, so we take care of them in the most unfailing way.

Among these clients, one sits at the top; this is who was calling. You see, a month previous, they requested a new sign for a marketing campaign they are rolling out to 165 locations. This new sign is replacing their older branding and is now a key focus. 



Meanwhile, for 34 years we’ve thrived on having very skilled industry veterans with amazing manual fabrication talents. However, hand fabrication has its limits, especially when it comes to super-small channel letters. And our client’s new branding has very small letters. So the client tells me, in no uncertain terms, that they are going to have these signs built, with or without Media 1’s assistance. 

Wait, what? We were presented with a very real threat of losing our No. 1 client. Well, I’ll be damned if I’m letting that happen, so, without consulting partners Rick Ream or Damon Coppola, I swear on the phone right then and there that we’ll have a channel letter bender on our floor ASAP, like I was Meatloaf tryin’ to see Paradise by the Dashboard Light!


As we had been toying with this purchase for 10 years, we already knew we wanted the SDS Automation Super ChannelBender. What we didn’t know is this machine now has a big brother, the XP, which includes “hydraulic” punching among its long list of features. Not only does it flange, notch and bend channel letter returns, but it punches all drain holes and rivet holes in the flanges. 

Paired with router-cutting letter backs with matching rivet holes, we eliminate all fabrication aspects of a channel letter, apart from placing a rivet in the aligned holes and squeezing the trigger.

The Super ChannelBender XP processes flanged or reverse-channel returns from 1-8 in. deep, all the way up to .063-in.-thick aluminum. And it’s so precise that it will bend intricate shapes, including ¼-in. serifs.


Working with James Cross, vice president of the sign making division at SDS Automation, the machine was on our floor within 10 days. They are here as I write this, training our guys on the machine – and we have already produced real jobs. One project that would have taken my guys two days to build, the machine spit out the components in an hour and a half! Super-fast, super-accurate, super-happy, Super ChannelBender XP.

Another crisis averted, and we’re going into 2019 fully-equipped. For real this time. 

Anybody want to buy a 15-year-old Arete?



Introducing the Sign Industry Podcast

The Sign Industry Podcast is a platform for every sign person out there — from the old-timers who bent neon and hand-lettered boats to those venturing into new technologies — we want to get their stories out for everyone to hear. Come join us and listen to stories, learn tricks or techniques, and get insights of what’s to come. We are the world’s second oldest profession. The folks who started the world’s oldest profession needed a sign.

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