Owner Art SignWorks
Join Date: Oct 2016
Location: Southern California
Yes, your overhead may be lower but (1) you will pay twice as much for materials as a professional manufacturer does, because we buy large quantities wholesale from the manufacturers (2) our professional sign makers have 10 years of experience, are very accurate and fast, and make very few mistakes. You will be competing against them, and they get paid between $16 and $19/hr. You will only be 50%, or even 20% efficient as they are (they have lots of efficiency tricks and they have made the same sign perhaps 100 times, whereas this will be your first time). Thus your effective payrate will be between $4/hr and $10/hr, at best.
To make 3-D signs cost-effectively, you will need to be able to (1) do 3-D geometric modelling using a program such as Aspire(yakes about 3 years to learn this; there are only about a dozed agraphic artists in the USA that can do accurate renderings quickly and efficiently) (2) make proofs and drawings for the customer to approve using a 2-D program such as Adobe Illustrator; (3) make 3-D toolpaths for a CNC router; (4) sandblast background areas using a large enclosed sandblast booth (5) do edge glue-ups of wood strips like Cedar, Redwood or Mahogany (6) plane large sign surfaces (as large as 5 ft x 10 ft) flat and smooth; (7) do fine hand-sanding and trimming (8) use a paint spray booth for prime coating or staining, painting and clear-coating; (9) do perfect painting with an artist-brush, airbrush, or mini-roller; (10) pack, crate and ship so your sign does not break during rough handling by shippers with forklifts, etc. We have 16 designers and specialist craftsmen and artisans, which is about the minimum for a successful business, a 7000 ft2 factory, over $300,000 in equipment, and it has taken over 10 years to establish a profitable production business, which requires perfect products and low prices. We have 3 full-time sales/marketing people and 4 designers.We have over 1500 orders/customers a year (many requiring dozens or hundreds of signs), and design and build over 10,000 signs and plaques a year - it requires at least this volume to be cost-effective, and we are always trying to figure out how to lower our costs -there is a lot of price competition out there in this niche area of carved and sandblasted wood and High-Density-Urethane signs and plaques.
Last edited by rpaulwmson; 05-05-2017 at 02:14 PM.