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Eric E. Larsen

When and Why to Turn to Sign Wholesalers for Help

The reasons are many; just make sure to “kick the tires” first.

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IN TODAY’S ENVIRONMENT you may find yourself in a bind trying to balance incoming projects and finishing up existing work. Many of us have plenty of work and not enough skilled people to handle it in a timely manner. So you create a waiting list, and you tell customers they may have to wait four or five months to get their signs ready. This blows the customer away because we just do signs, and you have them ready to go on the shelf, right?

Or perhaps you want to bid on a big project that requires interior and exterior signs, but your shop only does exterior signs. Dealing with ADA signs is not your cup of tea and you normally pass on them.

Or say you have a great design, but you don’t have the equipment to build it. Or better yet, you have the equipment and a deadline. Then your equipment decides to take a vacation and it will be six weeks to get parts installed.

These are only some of the problems we face in production. So, what do you do?

Find a wholesale sign company to help you out.

Many wholesale sign company employees have years of experience you can take advantage of if you are short staffed. They might have the machinery to make a job go quickly and easily. They can help you meet deadlines and in some cases become a distribution center for larger projects by building and blind shipping for you.

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Wholesale sign companies have been around for a while. Just like anything you will run into good and bad. Like buying a used car, it may look good and have a pretty paint job, but once you open the hood and sit in the driver’s seat, things begin to look different.

If you are in the market for a wholesale sign company, make sure you kick the tires and start the motor. Look at the history of the company you are eyeing. Ask for references and get a feel for their work. Remember that your name will be associated with the finished product they are building for you. Make sure it’s something you could put out or better.

Golden rule, cheapest is not always the best. Get a solid price that includes everything you can think of, including shipping. On your fabrication and structural drawings to the company, specify a list of materials you expect them to use. Honest wholesale companies will have no problem dealing with your demands and might even work with you on cost. Also remember you may not have the big margins like you would by fabricating yourself. You’ll need to balance out the cost of managing a project compared to the cost of fabricating with your own people.

When you look up wholesale companies online, do not concentrate on the first page. Many of the quality players are not listed on the first few pages. If the website looks like a fish and smells like a fish, it’s fishy. Call and talk to the people and gauge their knowledge of the sign industry. Ask many questions and ask for photos of the shop, paint booth, yard, materials and equipment.

Your design crew can get a little more creative if the wholesale company has different equipment than you do. Larger format and flatbed printers are a plus and open up many avenues of design. Some may have equipment and techniques you haven’t tried before, which you’ll get to use without spending money.

Wholesale companies are underused from my experience in the sign industry. They offer many new possibilities, and you might even want to become a wholesale company yourself.

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Do your research, ask questions, get photos, get solid prices.

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