School shootings. We see them on the news more and more. “Beginning with Columbine 18 years ago, more than 135,000 students attending at least 164 primary or secondary schools have experienced a shooting on campus,” according to a June 9, 2017 article in the Washington Post, the focus of which was the aftermath of a shooting the previous year at Townville Elementary in quiet Townville, SC. Six-year-old Jacob Hall tragically lost his life and several schoolmates were injured – and not all of them by the bullets.
WHAT CAN WE DO?
With the school building and playground suddenly an unavoidable reminder of the event, something had to be done to change the setting, providing the children both visual comfort and psychological security. Dave and Jamie Smith, who own and operate nearby Signarama Anderson (Anderson, SC), knew they had to get involved. “My wife and I have lived in Townville for 20-plus years, are friends with teachers there, know some of the kids, etc.,” Smith said. “We have done a number of other projects for this school and others in the same district.”
The school’s cafeteria and the classrooms feature large windows and the playground where the incident occurred is plainly visible. Many students had developed a fear that people outside were looking in at them. Denise Fredericks, principal of Townville Elementary, reached out to Jamie and Dave, “to solicit ideas for window treatments that would help the kids and teachers feel protected, without losing the inside-out visibility.” They presented various types (ratios) of perforated vinyl and settled on 70/30.
Jennifer DeLuca, a former art teacher at the school, designed and painted the interior of the cafeteria windows. The look was well received but the paint temporarily restricted the visibility – in or out. Signarama Anderson worked with Fredericks and its in-house team using FlexiSIGN & PRINT 12 to finalize the design and moniker, which they added. They used the shop’s HP Designjet L255500 to print the motif on Clear Focus EconoVue Film 70/30 for the well-shaded cafeteria and classroom windows, and on ORAFOL’s ORAGUARD 290GF Optically Clear Premium Cast PVC Laminating Film for the cafeteria windows in all-day direct sunlight. They protected both window films with the shop’s SEAL 54 EL laminator.
Signarama Anderson’s two-person crew installed the graphics over three days of last summer’s break, in time for the Welcome Back to School events. “Normally we would have outsourced this large of a pure installation job to a local company that does nothing but graphics and wrap installations,” Smith said. “During the process of getting the project going, it became clear that the people at the school were comfortable with us and trusted us.” And with good reason. In addition to being familiar faces, Signarama Anderson also donated approximately half of the job.
There is no formal plan to remove the graphics, and Smith suspects they will remain installed until product degradation occurs. “The look on the front of the building is striking, and it wouldn’t surprise me if we re-do it exactly the same to freshen it up in the future,” he said.
HELP FROM MY FRIENDS
Sign companies often count on each other for help, especially with specialty or out-of-town projects. Franchised signshops, however, have that little bit extra in common. So, when Dave Becker, owner of Fastsigns Elk Grove Village (Elk Grove Village, IL), was handed a building wrap project in Austin, TX by his client Werner for their Specialty Tools & Fasteners Distributors Assn. party, he knew he could rely on a local Fastsigns shop there for the necessary recon – obtaining building measurements and other preliminary tests. And even though Becker’s shop had already done a small building wrap for a Werner showroom in Birmingham, AL, that didn’t mean this job was going to be easy.
Werner’s event was to be held at the Coppertank Event Center, a century-old Austin building, but freshly painted to the tune of $10,000, so the choice of wrap material was crucial. “About half of the potential products were ruled out,” Becker said, due to their likelihood of damaging the paint, before a consultation with Fastsigns corporate produced a good candidate. “Photo Tex has a peel and stick wallpaper and the nice thing about it is that it has an opaque line.” Its adhesive takes 30 days to set up, so Becker sent a test patch to his Austin counterpart to install on the building and remove a week later. “I was worried that the fabric would bake onto the building,” Becker said, “but it didn’t.”
Fastsigns Elk Grove Village received the design files from the client – not quite perfect, but nothing Becker’s design team couldn’t handle. Taking two days, and using ONYX PosterShop RIP software, they printed eight rolls of Photo Tex OPA, 3,300 sq. ft. (enough for two sides of the building) on the shop’s HP Latex 360 printer. The Photo Tex material was 54 in. wide, and Fastsigns printed to 52 in., allowing a 1-in. overlap on each side. “This way we could hang it like wallpaper: starting on the corner and working out.” They also printed 3M IJ35 vinyl for the interior walls and AlumiGraphics Alumigrip for sidewalk directional graphics. “It has a very light, almost sandstone finish, so it’s not slippery,” Becker said of the Alumigrip.
Becker enlisted a team of three from Archer Sign Installation (Cedar Park, TX) on the recommendation of the Austin Fastsigns he had worked with in the preliminary stages. When the installation day came, his biggest fear was having to unroll the printed Photo Tex on the sidewalk outside the building. “It turned out no events were going on in the Coppertank, so we could stage all the panels on the floor inside,” Becker said. The Archer team took one outside wall and the Fastsigns team of three, the other, each team making extra sure the first panel was straight. The windows were also something of an obstacle, Becker recalled. Both teams had to trim them out. The installation took two days, starting on a Saturday morning and finishing Sunday night.
After Werner graciously allowed the Fastsigns crew to join the party, the team removed all of the interior and exterior wall graphics the next day in about three hours. Happily, no damage came to the outside paint. And, as a sweetener, while Becker and his team were at work, “a car pulled up and a couple jumped out,” Becker said. “They said [the building] looked amazing, asked about the material, how we did that, etc.” Turned out they run a car dealership in the Chicago area, and now are discussing doing some work together for the couple’s business back home.
GET THERE TOGETHER
Across North America and the UK, a number of Signs Now franchise-owned shops are rebranding as Image360 franchises. That’s what Steve Kapuscinski did when he decided to expand his existing Allegra Cincinnati marketing, printing and mailing business to include signage and graphics. Kapuscinski, whose Allegra franchise, as well as Signs Now and Image360, are all under Alliance Franchise Brands, liked the Image360 approach to selling graphics that goes beyond signs. Kapuscinski’s experience with Allegra Cincinnati positioned him and his staff well when PROLIM, a product lifecycle management company, came to his Image360 Cincinnati-Blue Ash (Blue Ash, OH) for a three-sign package that would require a fair amount of design development.
The client wanted an entry monument out front, a tenant sign on the outside wall and a wall sign behind the reception desk. Prolim sent over their existing logo, which Haley Hahn, Image360’s designer, used as a starting point for the three signs. With the help of Image360 Project Manager Holly Swisher, the two produced four design concepts over the course of nearly three months, using Adobe Creative Suite. The sign that made significant use of this consultative approach was the reception desk wall sign, which took several iterations until the position of the swoosh was deemed acceptable. “That sign was significantly different from the others in both color scheme and the use of brand standards,” Kapuscinski said. “The owner wanted a slightly different look for that particular image.”
Adding to the timeframe, Prolim’s owner traveled extensively during the three months, so the design revisions were primarily sent as email attachments to keep things moving. “There was a lot of evolution and evaluation of the several quite varied initial designs,” Kapuscinski said. Each was followed by “numerous tweaks till final approval.” Unfortunately, by that time the hold-up was out of everyone’s hands. “The weather late this past winter was extremely frustrating for scheduling the final installations,” Kapuscinski said. (Can you relate?)
Image360 Cincinnati-Blue Ash outsourced all of the fabrication of the three signs to McHenry Industries (Youngstown, OH) and contracted with ABC Signs (Cincinnati) for the installation. The combination of the monument, tenant and reception wall signs help visitors navigate their way through a clutter of the industrial/office park setting. And due to the Image360 philosophy of selling signs, careful and patient project management ensured the client’s vision was achieved.
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