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So often we get set in our ways;  going to the same old restaurants,  travelling the same route home, watching the same TV shows, drinking the same beer with friends, and we keep going back to the same vinyl products when we produce our signs.

Basically we are all creatures of habit. We’ll always fall back on the safe option and we will invariably go back to sign products or suppliers that are proven and tested over time. Over constant application, we become comfortable with how they go on; we often have a good relationship with the wholesaler, so we tend to avoid upsetting the apple cart.

In my own business, I am the same. I try different products from time to time, but nearly always go back to what I know works for me.

But I think it goes further than that. A lot of the motivation for me to use certain materials comes back to trust. Trust in the wholesaler, trust in the rep, and trust in the Brand.

I’m probably no different to anyone else out there in sign-maker land.

Some things may force me to change of course. A dispute with a supplier is one reason; the regular supplier being out of stock is another.  Price can also sway our decision on what we use although I think that can be a dangerous path to take.

So it is with a little embarrassment that I tell you that I recently discovered a product that I really wish I’d known about a few years ago. From my own perspective, this product was an answer to a prayer.

And it took an alert supplier to point me in the right direction.

As some of you may know, I fly all over the country wrapping heavy vehicles. It is my main line of business, and it is something that I’m well known for. I don’t use cheap products because my advertising agency clients insist on the vehicles looking as good at the end of a contract as they did the day they were done.

I also act as a consultant to various companies, helping clarify, prevent or rectify problems that sign shops, graphic designers and transport/vehicle owners need addressed from time to time when branding large vehicles.

My dilemma was this.

The contracts call for my company to warrant all aspects of the application.

Once the coach is signed, I must warrant not only my workmanship, but I must also guarantee the original signs will not be damaged in any way and that the paint will not be damaged either. Also, the sign material must come off adhesive free and the vehicle downtime must be minimal.

I remember one sign shop in Sydney competed for a state-wide promotional contract for a major political party. I was requested, as a consultant, to supply the sign maker with the recommended material to satisfy the coach owners concerns that the temporary signs wouldn’t damage the existing coach signage.

My instructions were simple. I directed them to a low tack adhesive product from Avery and stocked by Spandex. I can’t think of the code right now, but it has been discontinued since, so it is irrelevant anyway.

Apparently the sign shop didn’t see the need to pay for an expensive removable product when they clearly had plenty of cheap promotional grade vinyl that had a ‘good’ adhesive. In their own minds it meant more profit and less expense.

To cut a very long story short, the original sign shop couldn’t spare the time to remove the graphics in the week the vehicle was free, so I was approached by the coach owner to remove them instead.

Upon inspection, it was clear the material was not a quality vinyl, so I warned the owner to expect some damage.

The result? After several months being cooked on in the aussie summer sun, removal of the permanent signage material took off the paint right back to bare metal. The strength of the adhesive was impressive, but totally inappropriate for the application.
How so? A common problem with bus and coach vehicles is that they often suffer a ‘cancer’ caused by electrolysis. You may see this as tiny bubbles like pin pricks in the paint. Left unchecked, it can eventually cause rust and metal decay. By using a permanent adhesive, common in promotional grade materials, the sign shop was just asking for trouble
A legal stand-off followed and the political party was billed for the repairing and spraying all the damaged areas on the vehicles. I assume they were then compensated by the sign shop. If they weren’t, they should have been.

The biggest problem has always been the adhesive free removal, and the down time spent on removal of the signs and the inevitable adhesive that was left behind in the hard wearing areas. When a heavy vehicle is not working, it is not earning, so this is a critical component in fleet and transport work.

A senior executive from one of our leading film suppliers asked why I wasn’t using a particular product that he thought would solve the problems outlined.

My immediate reaction was: ‘What is this product????
I’ve come to the conclusion that it is one of those ‘sleeper’ products that few people know about.

The new film is intended for short term vehicle graphics where fast, easy installation, and clean, easy removal is required.

Applications targeted include car, bus, commercial vehicle or fleet graphics as well as general signage.

This product ticked all the boxes in terms of application and removal. The bus pictured, took a little over 2 hours to completely strip all four sides of signage. As it left no adhesive what-so-ever, it was back in service 3 hours after it arrived to be cleaned off.

I’ve tried a few products over the years, but I dip my hat to this manufacturer when it comes to this product.

This is a product that really should be more main stream in the promotional graphics field.

It is, without doubt, one of the few products in today’s market that performs well beyond expectations in the promotional graphic arena.

Shane Drew