Birth of a Sign: part 2

Yeah, it’s finished! If you’ve been following my blog, you know we have been working with a little start-up out it Perris, California. It’s a handmade ice cream shop called La Michoacana Puro Sabor. They needed a sign for their storefront. For those of you who are not following my blog, I’ll give you a quick recap.

Originally the client wanted a sign that used individual illuminated channel lettering for the company name. We agreed this would look fantastic but this type of sign comes with a rather large price tag. We then discussed a cabinet box but explained that some cities don’t like these signs because they don’t look as contemporary as individual lettering.

There were also a couple of other reasons why cabinet box signs would not work in this situation. First, cabinet boxes use florescent lighting inside. And, in order to accommodate the florescent lighting, the cabinet would have to be at least eight inches deep, so the lights don’t overheat. And, second, florescent lights use more electrical power.

Our solution was to create a Pan Channel Cabinet. In our design we used scalloped edges to outline the letters. And, on the inside, we used LED lights because they allowed for a thinner cabinet that has a more contemporary look. LEDs also use less power and last longer than florescent lights. They cost a bit more but we gave them to the client for the price of the florescent lights. We really wanted them to be happy with the sleeker three-inch thick cabinet.

Our Journey to the Final Sign

There were a few delays with this job because the City of Perris wanted the sign to be smaller. Most cities calculate the size of a sign based on the linear footage of the storefront and zoning requirements, whether the establishment is retail, industrial or commercial.

When we first submit any design plans to the city, our calculations are an estimate based on the signs we see on surrounding businesses. We always go as large as we can in hopes the city will allow it.

Originally we wanted the main cabinet to be 144 inches wide x 24 inches high. But, once we met with the city officials, we had to bring it down to 91.56 inches wide x 15.26 inches high.

The good new was we were able to keep the thickness of the box at a sleek three inches deep.

Our original design called for the round logo to be 44 inches in diameter. We had to reduce that to 28 inches in diameter. And, the capsule beneath the long cabinet went from 108 inches wide x eight inches high to 68.68 inches wide x five inches high.

All these changes required new mechanical layouts and another sign off from both the landlord of the building and the customer. And then we made another trip to the city for final approval.

While at the city the customer paid the required fees and received their permit for their new sign.

Once we received the approval it only took us two weeks to finish the job and get the sign installed.

Lessons Learned

There’s a lot more to creating and installing a sign than most people realize. The lesson here, and with all outdoor signs that need city permits, is to start early. It could take as little as five weeks and as long as eight weeks to create the design, the mechanical layouts, check with the city to see if the design is up to code, do the re-design, check again with the city and finally get approval and the needed permits. And, all of these tasks must be completed before we can fabricate and install the sign. And, if your signs are in the City of Los Angeles, it can even take longer!

The best news is our client, La Michoacana, is very happy with their new sign. And it looks like business is booming. They have five out of six stars on Yelp. You might want to head out to Perris and pick up a Mangoneada, a soft mango sorbet topped with chopped mangoes and covered in a sweet, salty, and spicy chamoy sauce. Yum!


Advantages of using a Print Consultant & Procurement Company

Here’s a perfect example why you should be using a print consultant and procurement company. I know this may sound like I’m bragging but once you hear the story I think you’ll understand my point.

We recently received a call from the designer for Pepe’s Mexican Restaurant. He called us because we’ve worked together before and he knows our capabilities. The client had hired another printer to print and install a new face to the existing Pole Sign outside of his new restaurant. And, due to the printer’s limited equipment, the sign had not turned out the way the client had hoped. Thus the job was referred to us so it could be done correctly.

The Problem with the Sign

The face of the Pole Sign is 142 x 142 inches of graphic illuminated signage, readable from a far distance. The problem with the sign was that it was printed on a 5-foot wide digital press. The problem here is obvious. How can you print a sign that is nearly 12 feet wide on a printer that only prints on material that is 5-feet wide? Due to the company’s limited equipment the sign would have to be printed in three panels instead of the finished graphics being in one piece. This means the panels had to be tiled, sewn or heat-sealed together, so that the finished graphic would be the correct size. On top of that, an additional foot and a half of material was required around the entire graphic for the installation process.

This may not seem like much of a problem. Large signs are tiled and heat-sealed together all the time. But, this sign was different. This was an illuminated sign. At first the client thought nothing of it, as the seam was virtually invisible during the day. But when the sign was illuminated at night the lights enhanced the visibility of the seams, which were now no longer hidden. This was not the professional look the client wanted thus the client wanted the sign redone.

The Solution to Fix the Sign

We had a few things to keep in mind as we undertook this project. Needless to say, we had to keep the cost down as the previous printing company was paying us and were already taking a loss on the job. One thing we suggested was to switch from a 3M material called Panaflex to Vulite Pro, which is a 15-ounce economical, backlit substrate used for a wide array of illuminated applications. The smooth print surface is engineered to avoid flow marks when backlit. And, the cost difference can result in a 20-33% savings over the 3M material.

Next, because we work with a wide variety of printers, we had the sign printed in Los Angeles, which saved on shipping cost. And we printed the sign on a digital press that can print on material 16 feet wide, which meant there were no seems to worry about. We knew the sign would be located outdoors so we used UV inks and double-hit the ink coverage, so when it was illuminated the colors would still pop. In the end, though a long process, everyone was happy.

The Lesson Learned

As this job illustrates, when you deal directly with a printer he will usually sell you a solution based on the equipment he has in his printing facility. On the other hand, Signs of the Times Consulting will provide you with endless solutions based on your needs. And, as you’ve seen, a print consultant and procurement company knows the best way to get your project done correctly and cost efficiently.

If you are ever in Hacienda Heights, please visit Pepe’s Mexican Restaurant - this is one of several locations. They have some buena comida!


The Birth of a Sign

Signs of the Times Consulting is currently working on some outdoor signs for a yummy start-up company! The company is La Michoacana Puro Sabor (Hand Crafted Mexican Ice Cream) in Perris, California. Their Grand Opening is sometime in August.  Our job, as sign production specialists, is to take the clients vision, execute it in the most cost effective way that will allow us to obtain city permits. 

We consider four main things when consulting with the client and fabricating the sign(s).

  1. Design of the sign
  2. Client’s budget
  3. City codes & permitting
  4. What the landlord with allow

What the Client Wants

This particular client originally wanted individual illuminated channel lettering for the company name . While this would look fantastic, it comes with a much heavier price tag then doing the alternative – a Cabinet (one box unit with the letters either digitally printed or applied on with cut adhesive vinyl). One of the challenges with a Cabinet is that many cities are discontinuing illuminated Cabinets because they don’t like the way they look; they don’t look as contemporary as individual lettering.

The second challenge is when a client has a limited budget, rightfully so with a startup company, most sign companies would resort to a Cabinet with florescent lighting inside. Florescent lighting is cheaper, but to accommodate the florescent lighting the cabinet would have to be at least 8” deep, so the lights do not overheat. This just feeds into why cities are slowly banning these Cabinets – they look big, boxy and boring. The other downside to florescent lighting is that they use more electrical power to run.

Our Solution

So our Sign Consultant, Jane Plude, along with our sign fabricator came up with a great solution! We can do a ‘Pan Channel Cabinet’ – see photo above. The cabinet is 2’h x 12’w, all in one piece, with scalloped edges outlining the letters. They also decided to give the client LED lights at the lesser cost of the florescent lights, so the client would now get a more attractive sign at the cheaper rate.  By switching to LED lights the main benefit is that we can now make the Cabinet only 3”deep, giving a more contemporary, sleek look! And LED lights pull less power and can last longer.

Lastly, we kept the tagline “Hand Crafted Ice Cream” as a separate unit, called a Capsule, under 10’ wide to avoid special welding which also drives the cost up. By keeping it under 10 ft it can be put on any bender machine.

Check Back to See the Final Results

Please check back with us, when we are finished with the install to see how we did! And if you live in the Perris, CA area – support this new local business by visiting them in August at 2131 N. Perris Blvd., Unit #2, Perris, CA 92571.