As autumn has settled in and I’m feeling slightly melancholy I thought it might be time to reflect on what is fast approaching 20 years working within the sign and display industry. Back in 1993 the UK was, funnily enough, in the doldrums and we were all hoping that things would start to improve soon. Nothing ever really changes! Fed up with working within retail, I was keen to start- up a business that would make me my fortune.
At that ‘pre-Google’ time I remember spending two long days in a local library comparing sections of US editions of the Yellow Pages with its English counterpart. My cunning plan was to see what areas of business were more developed in the USA than over here, allowing me to find a soon-to-grow business sector to dive into.
Somehow, I narrowed my search down to two areas: signmaking and water coolers. And as they say, the rest is history. Whilst I still set the alarm clock for 6am most mornings, a friend of mine has built up and sold two water cooler businesses and now spends most of his time in Majorca. Hey ho.
Like a lot of people reading this, I setup my state of the art sign business with a PC that cost over £2K, an A4 inkjet printer that cost £1K (and took twenty minutes to print one sheet!) and a 2ft wide vinyl cutter that cost £5K.
The only bit of luck that I had was being given a copy of the just released CorelDraw2 by my soon to be brother-in-law who only wanted my sister in return. A deal was quickly done!
Looking back over the past 20 years, I have witnessed huge change within the sign and display industry, mostly centred around digital print, which has driven the huge growth in demand for ever larger graphics, adhered to more and more surfaces.
My feeling is that the industry that I work in is still developing and growing and there are fantastic opportunities emerging that will allow us all to evolve the way we do business. For those companies that are prepared to take chances, to innovate, and to devote real time to providing great customer service, opportunities abound. So have a toastie autumn and winter.
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