Hi, everybody! This month I’m turning over the column reins to one of our employees, Greg Berry. Greg’s lifelong experience lies in auto paint and body, so he works in our paint department, also applying his talents to sign structures. Enjoy! – Dale Salamacha
Here at Media 1/Wrap This, we are encountering one of the few “positive” problems a business can have: not enough space to handle all the orders we have to fill.
2018 was a historic year for us. We shattered all sales records from our 34-year history, growing revenue 27% from 2017’s numbers! This is a great “problem” to have. To keep up with the demand, we added a new router table, a new bucket truck and a new channel letter bender in 2018. We also hired more personnel in the engineering, fabrication and installation departments, meaning the only facet of the business that hasn’t grown is our facility. And you can only stuff so many people and so much equipment into a given building before productivity and efficiency go out the window.
We have always viewed the sign business as a vital, growing and constantly evolving industry. Change is inevitable, and we embrace that change. (Remember before LEDs, when we had to light things with neon? A bottleneck for sure, to which we could never return.) With all this in mind, we now need to find a new, larger home.
Over the years, we’ve expanded from our original 1,200-sq.-ft. shop, to 2,400, to 6,000, then, 14 years ago, to a massive 10,000-sq.-ft. shop we thought we’d never fill. Then in 2011, we rented the space next door, increasing our floor space to 20,000 sq. ft. Now, here we are eight years later, wondering where we’re going to put everything. That’s how we know it’s time to move.
Our goal is at least 50% more work space. We feel 30,000 sq. ft. will give us room to efficiently position our new equipment and personnel, to maximize workflow and productivity – even offering us room for the future growth we optimistically forecast. But our new home has other requirements besides area. It must be relatively near our present location, or we run the risk of becoming “geographically prohibitive” to our client base, as we have over 60 vehicles per month delivered to our wrap department. We also can’t expect our employees to commit to an hour-long commute, either.
So, size and location are paramount in our search. But also important is the layout of the shop. Our dream building lays out like this: Media 1 needs the most space at 17,000 sq. ft. Wrap This requires 8,000 sq. ft., leaving 5,000 sq. ft. for offices, a kitchen, a conference room, etc.
Media 1 is a production facility that creates a level of debris. Wrap This, on the other hand, requires a pristine environment to ensure flawless wraps. So, within the same building, each must be fully separated from the other.
Additionally, if we could have doors on opposite ends of the shop, we could bring vehicles in one side, and drive them out the other for delivery. An assembly line style would be achieved. The same applies to the sign fabrication side.
A lot to think about? Sure, and we haven’t even talked about downtime. We will have to take the entire company down, pack it, move it, and set it back up quickly. We still have signs to build and vehicles to wrap, after all! Our move to new digs is not our customers’ problem, so it must be fast and efficient, getting us back in business ASAP.
With the strong economy and business booming, it’s finally time to purchase our new home. But, buy an existing building? Or build a new one? Whichever path we take, it must be taken posthaste, as our lease is up in 2019 and we are not signing another lease for a building we outgrew years ago. Stay tuned to find out what happens next.
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