New not-for-profit industry group the Vehicle Wrapping Association of Australia (VWAA) is gathering momentum as wrappers respond to its unique no-fee business model and its aim “to separate industry professionals from the amateurs.”
|(l-r) VWAA founder Mark Murray of Wrap Works with Justin Pate of The Wrap Institute|
The newly-formed VWAA, the brainchild of industry veteran Mark Murray, owner of WA’s Wrap Works, was rolled out in a low-key launch in December 2018 and has already signed up leading vehicle wrapping businesses from across Australia.
Companies that have passed the VWAA audit process to become fully accredited members alongside Wrap Works include Impact Signs WA, Pure Image (VIC), Signrite (TAS), Grafico – Auto (VIC), Dizzi Decalz (SA), Apex Signage (NSW) and Zooma Signs (QLD).
Murray told Wide Format Online that as the vehicle wrapping industry has expanded in recent years, he’s become alarmed at the proliferation of “crap jobs and disgusting workmanship.
|Wrap Works is based at Wangara in Perth's northern suburbs|
“I’m 53, I’ve been in and out of the industry my whole life," he says. "I have a wrapping business in Perth with my wife and son where we primarily wrap high-end vehicles. Recently, I started to notice that as the industry was growing, pricing was changing significantly and standards were dropping.
“Customers have been getting some absolutely disgusting workmanship and they’re not finding out about it until later when the film comes off and they see all their paintwork has been cut through. And by then the wrap installer is long gone.
“Just as the industry was starting to move forward, it was getting a bad name. There was a pattern emerging and more people were starting to say: ‘This wrap is crap and it’s ruined my car.’ It was starting to affect my business and a lot of people in the industry were talking about it.
“I’m not just talking about backyarders and mobile operators that might be working off Gumtree and those sort of places. Some of these are actual sign shops. It started to seem like anyone in signage had now decided they could also wrap vehicles.
“There’s a certain art to wrapping a car and doing it right, things like being able to cut on paintwork. The typical test for that is you put a bit of film on a balloon and you need to be able to cut through the film and not pop the balloon. I did a Justin Pate course and I was one of only a few guys that could do that.
“There are shops out there trading now that have no accreditation, no insurance to cover the vehicle, it just goes on and on. I thought, ‘You know what, someone’s got to start this, why can’t it be us?’ So that’s where the idea came from to say, ‘Hey, let’s try to create a criteria that shows a business does have experience, does have insurance in place, does have some accreditation and is registered for GST.”
Murray says he looked around at other industry associations and was not impressed.
“It’s something that has always gotten under my skin, these organisations and associations where you automatically become a member if you give them money. For us, it’s the other way around. The members will never pay.”
Murray provided the initial funding himself and has his eye on a long-game business model that he hopes will provide better pricing for members
“I’ve got some other business interests and I’m doing alright so we figured, let’s kick this off ourselves. As it grows, maybe we can get some sponsors involved and as we build this network of professionals then together we can start to see some better supplier pricing for us. It's the whole idea of building unity, power in numbers."
“Membership to the VWAA is free and purely voluntary,” Murray says. “If a wrap business doesn’t display a member logo (pictured above), that in no way means you’re not dealing with a professional entity, but you can be assured that those that do have met specific requirements to ensure they have what's required to provide a professional customer experience, from start to finish.”
All VWAA members are audited to ensure they meet professional, legal and ethical requirements of the association.
“It’s been a slow start and people are still trying to get their head around it. The initial membership inquiries have been good. There have been only two companies so far that didn’t meet our criteria. The thing is, if they don’t meet it, they don’t meet it. There are not a lot of hoops to jump through but we do feel a responsibility to the public.
"All we’re asking is that the business is a legitimate, ethical trading business with the right legal platform, proper supplies of material and installers that are experienced and accredited. That’s all we’re asking, and if they can’t do that, then they’re in the wrong business. You know, if someone who’s going to operate on you says they’re a doctor, they should be a doctor.”
Murray says he’s happy to build the organisation slowly and is more interested in quality rather than quantity when it comes to membership.
“There’s a lot of amazing companies out there who will probably laugh at what we’re doing and say they don’t need us, and so be it. But it would be great to have those companies onboard as part of this team because I believe that, together, not only can we better publicise our businesses but there’s the prospect of getting better pricing for members. If the day eventuates where we have 200 or 300 members across Australia then I think suppliers like Avery will probably need to treat us pretty seriously. I want to have some incentive that we can pass on to our members.
“We may be small and insignificant now but every entity, every organisation started off that way. Who knows where we’ll go, but I’m committed to the process.
“I was literally forced into this and I remember the job well. This car came in and it had just been butchered. It was a brand new vehicle that a dealer had gotten wrapped on behalf of a customer and they’d obviously sent it somewhere where someone made a lot of money and did a crap job. I just looked at it and thought: “This has got to stop, because it’s making me look bad, even though I didn’t do the job, and it's making us all look bad. We’ve got to get rid of these guys or, at least, if they’re out there, separate ‘us’ from ‘them.’ You know, we’re a different team.”