The Perfect Partnership, Foam Monument Signs & LED Message Centers
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The Perfect Partnership, Foam Monument Signs & LED Message Centers

You can offer your clients the best of both worlds. The durability and versatility of a foam monument sign paired with the dynamic messaging and powerful flexibility features of the LED message center create a commanding signage partnership that offers your clients the best of the both worlds.

By Katie Schwartz, Marketing Coordinator Peachtree City Foamcraft

If you have never partnered these two types of signage, let us show you how.

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  • Defining Your Local Target Market
    So you have decided to add this unique product to your diverse line of signage offerings, to whom are you going to sell this type of sign? While the answer can vary depending on your geographical location and zoning restrictions, one industry expert finds that the market segment can be quite varied. Maureen Sanner, Marketing Director for Watchfire Signs says, "All businesses are prospective clients from schools, churches, municipalities and other non-profit organizations to a broad range of retail, including restaurants and entertainment venues and service industries including financial, medical, legal and hospitality businesses." The U.S. Small Business Administration and the Signage Foundation for Communication Excellence released a report that clearly defined the target market for electronic message centers as, "businesses that want flexibility to control their own graphics and message unit and be able to change their communication to meet their needs and the needs of their customers." The report cited five types of businesses that would benefit greatly from utilizing signage that incorporated an electronic message center; these businesses were large corporations, state highway departments, local banks, small businesses and entertainment establishments.

    Choosing Your Suppliers
    Before you sit down at your computer to create a design, choose your wholesale monument sign manufacturer and LED supplier first. There are five key factors to consider before making your final supplier selection.

    1. Product Quality - Is this product manufactured to withstand a wide spectrum of extreme weather conditions?
    2. Product Usability - How easy is the monument sign to install?
    3. What type of training support is offered for the LED Sign?
    4. Company Reliability - Is your supplier wholesale only? How long have they been in the business? What do other sign shops say about their products?
    5. Product Reliability - How does the product hold up over time? What is the company's guarantee?

    "Price alone should never be the determining factor when choosing a supplier", Sanner says from experience, "Buyer Beware! Quality and service are often sacrificed in this business to offer the lowest price." Michael Fetter, National Sales Manager for Peachtree City Foamcraft agrees, "The most expensive part of making a monument is the hard coat and this is also the most important part, it determines the durability and longevity of the product." If your client determines that cost is their ultimate deciding factor, the U.S. Small Business Administration suggests that the business measure their cost and ROI based upon the cost per thousand exposures of their message to the public, "On this basis, no other form of advertising comes close to matching the efficiency and cost-effectiveness, dollar for dollar, of an electronic message display."

    Rob Klinger, President of Signs Plus Signs, Sarasota, FL based sign shop warns; "You never want to buy an LED message center from a "sole source provider". He continues, "There are a lot of companies buying LED message centers from unknown suppliers overseas, and the units will not have the manufacturers name or number on it. If something happens, you will not be able to get parts or service." Klinger also has advice for selecting a monument sign supplier, "Durability. I use the term "poly-armor" with my clients, as I feel it is more suitable than "foam". I have found potential clients shy away from a sign represented as foam, so I explain the "poly-armor" in detail and they have a better understanding of it. Also a sample always helps!"

    Aside from making sure you have chosen the best supplier to outsource your business to, selecting your suppliers before you jump into the design process, will make the manufacturing process easier.

    Designing For LED Integration
    The design process doesn't have to start with a blank sheet, most LED and foam monument manufacturers will have vector drawings available for you to customize, making the design process easier. Fetter says the process is simple, "we have 56 standard models that can be downloaded from our website. The sign shops can then get the LED specs from their supplier of choice, import them into their graphics software and put the two together." Alicia Martinez, Regional Sales Manager for Electro-Matic Display products adds, "Incorporating an EMC into a foam monument sign is extremely easy, as long as there is a little planning regarding power/communication location and ventilation." Larry Falatko, Production Manager for Peachtree City Foamcraft Northeast adds, "We can also customize the monument to fit virtually any type of LED message center. As long as the sign shop can give us the dimensions and specifications of the LED sign, we can work with the sign shop and the LED supplier to make sure they will be a perfect fit." Most LED and foam monument manufacturers will have vector drawings available for you to customize, making the design process easier. Once your drawing is complete, make sure to share your drawing with your LED supplier and Monument Sign Supplier, before you sell your client on the design.

    The LED & Monument Sign Partnership Advantage
    Foam Monument Signs give your clients the grandeur look of a large sign, without the weight and on-site construction. They are also extremely versatile; with the ability to be manufactured in virtually any size, shape or color you can imagine while offering the exceptional benefit of unmatched durability. Mike Fetter, Sales Manager for Peachtree City Foamcraft says, "We spray all of our foam products with our Poly-Armor hard coat and it has made our foamcore monument sign the only one in the industry to be independently tested and approved to withstand 175 MPH winds."

    Clarke Systems Architectural Signage Systems Wayfinding ADA

    Electronic Message Centers are computerized, programmable visual communication devices that are capable of storing and displaying multiple messages in a variety of different formats and speeds. LED signs bring monument signs to life. The flexibility of LED message centers allows the end user to put their sign to work 24 hours a day. "They add a dynamic messaging component that draws the attention of passing traffic better than manual reader boards." Sanner continues "Businesses using an integrated LED sign will typically see an increase in business of 15% to 150%."

    Klinger says the partnership is a natural one; "LED cabinets compliment monument signs because, while a monument sign alone while accomplish the goal of identifying the facility, the addition of an LED cabinet will provide the most cost-effective advertising tool available."

    Making the Partnership Work
    At this point, you should already have a viable drawing that has been "ok'd" by both your LED sign supplier and your monument sign manufacturer. Your drawing should include your plan for installation and ventilation. "The biggest failure we see is not following the installation guidelines for ventilation; electronic signs need adequate ventilation to allow warm air to exit properly" Sanner notes. When putting the monument sign and LED message center to work together, the LED sign must fit perfectly inside of the monument sign, "This can be scary for some sign shops new to integrating LED signs, so we will actually allow our sign shops to send us their LED unit so we can install it into the monument sign and ship it to them already put together" Fetter adds, "most manufacturers will work with you every step of the way as long as you ask."

    Klinger explains, "Incorporating an LED message center into a poly-armor structure does require some assembly in the field. Typically, we direct bury steel legs through the poly-armor monument sign, then attach the led message center and identification cabinet."

    Once the Monument/LED Sign is at your shop, you will need to program the Electronic Message Center. According to Martinez, programming an LED sign is "Simple! Most EMC Manufacturers offer easy to use, what you see is what you get (WYSIWYG) software with intuitive graphical user interfaces. Programming features include the ability to schedule in advance, manage multiple displays in multiple locations and create content from simple monochrome text to full color graphics or animation."

    Installing the Work of Art
    Your LED message center is installed inside of your monument sign, now it's time to install the monument sign into the ground. There are several different types of monument signs which require slightly different methods for installation so, be sure to check with your monument sign manufacturer for their preferred installation techniques to ensure the maximum life of the sign. Fetter adds, "Our signs do not require any bracing or additional substrate for installation, so all our client has to do is purchase the galvanized steel pipe, place the pipes inside of the PVC pipe in our sign, secured by expandable foam, dig the holes, place the sign in the holes and fill with a mixture of cement and water. The most important part of the process is making sure the monument sign is ground supported."

    The Finished Product
    Signs Plus Signs of Sarasota, FL created a visually appealing and highly successful partnership between the foam monument sign and the LED message center in this project. Owner, Rob Klinger explains "The West Bend School District (West Bend, WI) contacted us to provide a brick wall, school sign and LED message center. After discussing their needs, we determined that a poly-armor monument structure would be a great addition to the project. The customer liked the fact that there would be no need for an extensive foundation, brick work or extensive labor on site to construct the brick wall. The project came together smoothly, and the customer is thrilled with the results!"

    Katie Schwartz is the Marketing Coordinator at Peachtree City Foamcraft, the leading supplier of foamcore monument signs and architectural accents. Peachtree City Foamcraft is the only wholesale manufacturer to have their product independently tested and approved to withstand 175 mph winds. katie@ptd.net

    For more information on Signs Plus Signs, Sarasota Florida: visit www.signsplusigns.com
    For more information on Peachtree City Foamcraft, visit: www.foamcraft.info
    For more information on Electro-Matic LED signs, visit: www.electro-matic.com
    For more information on Watchfire LED signs, visit: www.watchfiresigns.com

    Photo Credits: Peachtree City Foamcraft

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