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Over the last 25 years Sign Essentials has grown to be one of Queensland's leading industry suppliers having been established in 1991 by Mike Strange, father to Sean Strange, the current General Manager.
Integral to the success of this company was their relationship with Roland DG. Sign Essentials became a champion for this great maker of wide format printers and vinyl cutters back in 1992 and has become the premier Queensland Roland DG distributor. In fact in 2015 the company was awarded Roland DG’s Partner of the Year Award which was earned from great sales, service and support that the company was providing to its customer base.
|The Impact showroom|
Today the company continues to install and support more Roland DG machines in Queensland than any other supplier. Sean explained that “support and service are vital with any machinery that owners rely on to produce income for themselves, their staff and families. All our engineers are trained by Roland DG and are subjected to rigorous ongoing training which is essential, especially for each new machine that Roland DG introduce to the market. It is also essential that our people are out there as fast as possible to service these machines and get them up and running in the rare case of a machine that is not producing work.
Back in 2011, Sign Essentials introduced the regional industry to the Impact CNC range of routers. The range was eagerly adopted by the sign industry due to its competitive pricing, abilities and sturdiness, so much so that a new building had to be purchased to house this side of the business. Sean told us that he has an installed base of over 70 machines and still growing.
The range of Impact CNC Routers is extensive, from basic manual tool-change models right up to rapid, sturdy auto tool-change machines in a wide array of sizes. Of particular interest to the print industry Sean explained that with the addition of a camera and some sophisticated software these routers can double up as digital cutters capable of producing fine cut out POP work on a range of media, including some heavier media that only a router could tackle. Sign Essentials were showing off this attribute at the Brisbane VI show earlier this year with the release of the Impact CNC Blizzard. They emphasised that whilst the Impact CNC machines are more than capable of producing digital cut outs, they are definitely CNC Routers, built to cut the heavy stuff all day every day.
|The Roland DG showroom|
With both Roland DG and Impact CNC forming the backbone of the company, Sign Essentials has also built up a range of ancillary products that are required by the sign and wide format industry on a daily basis.
In order to strengthen this backbone of the business Sean visited FESPA in Amsterdam in March and came back with two other great products for the local market. Firstly, Grafityp of Belgium, a worldwide name in environmentally friendly self adhesive sign making films, digital print media and laminates, and wrapping films. Sign Essentials is rapidly winning new and existing customers with this award winning film.
Then he also came back with Lamidesk, a motorised laminating table that makes laminating a breeze. The Lamidesk slogan is “Don’t work hard, Work Smart” which explains the added bonus that the motorised gantry and roller bring to the table. The Lamidesk was a smash hit at Visual Impact Brisbane this year with crowds consistently gathered around watching live demos. A number of orders were placed at the show and more have followed.
The key to Sign Essentials success? “Finding the right people is critical’, said Sean. He has obviously been successful as most of the staff have been with the company for over 10 years. ”When we find good people, we like to hang onto them”, he said. Sean is proud of his team and is fiercely loyal towards them. When asked if he would name the key people in his company, he stated that he considers all the staff to be of equal importance.
In the early 1990s when Sign Essentials began, sign writers, screen printers, offset printers, and commercial printers were all different and generally specialised in their own specific areas of trade. Today the sectors are merging, as are the individual companies and indeed the suppliers.
|The new Lamidesk Compact Dual laminating table|
“There are not many suppliers left who are offering that same dedication to service and support that has made Sign Essentials the great success story that it is today,” Sean said. “If we were to try to become too big, as attempted by some other suppliers, the personal touch which we have held onto for so long, would be diminished, if not lost.”
Along with a shrinking industry due to mergers, takeovers and buy-outs, he still sees the industry as in great shape. “The merger of VISA and GAMMA to create Visual Connections, is perhaps a demonstration of the current status of the industry”.
Taking time out occasionally is vitally important to Sean and his team, in fact he insists on it. “No matter how much you enjoy your job, which I do, it’s important to have variety in life. If you’re only doing one thing, you get stale. For me getting out on the golf course on the weekend takes the mind off work and ensures I head into a new week refreshed and ready to go. I think it’s vital everyone has that release, your work week will reap the rewards!”
Below: The Sign Essentials video shot at Visual Impact Brisbane earlier in 2016