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Modular Signage Systems

With diversification into new markets a good way of future-proofing your business and take on new work, Rob Fletcher finds out about the opportunities in the modular sign systems sector

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Build up your business

Diversification has been a major buzzword in the sign-making industry, as well as a host of other markets, for some time. The emphasis on expanding outside of your comfort zone and taking on new work is one that should not be ignored, with competition in the sign sector fiercer than ever.

One area that has been cited as a possible expansion option for sign-makers is modular sign systems. With an abundance of work on offer and the potential to secure long-term customers, there is plenty to be positive about.

However, as is the case when moving into any new area, it is essential to ensure that you have the right tools and skills to make the transition. Luckily, there are a host of trade suppliers in this market, eager to help sign companies expand into this area.

Thinking outside the box

One of these suppliers is the appropriately named Ashby Trade Signs, which is able to offer a range of services to companies seeking assistance either with diversification or expanding one of their current offerings. Woody Martin, marketing manager at Ashby, says that the supplier’s creativity supports sign-makers and is committed to helping them grow their own business.

Available from Ashby Trade Signs, the Ashby Blox System has been developed to be an eye-catching alternative to modular or totem signage

“Sign-makers are constantly seeking both new and creative ways to make their customers’ signage stand out from the competition,” Martin comments, adding: “Signs exist to attract attention and even the most experienced of sign-makers sometimes like a creative input on a project.

“The graphic design team at Ashby Trade Signs work with sign-makers on bespoke projects, supporting them in
realising their creative ambitions.”

Focusing in on modular sign systems, Martin draws attention to the Ashby Blox System, which he says has been developed to be an eye-catching alternative to modular or totem signage. He says that “the sky is the limit” when it comes to bespoke sign design and manufacture, and bespoke projects are an opportunity to think differently.

However, Martin goes on to say that even if it is a bespoke design, it needs to remain practical and cost-effective. This is where suppliers such as Ashby can support sign-makers with their projects.

Steve Nicholas, general manager at Ashby, picks up on this, saying: “There is often the temptation to throw large sums of money at bespoke projects, which can be a mistake. There is no need to compromise the efficiency of production for the sake of flair; they are not mutually exclusive.”

Real creativity is the fusion of intelligent design, cost-effectiveness, quality and longevity

Ashby has developed its Blox system so that it follows existing manufacturing processes. Nicholas says it is a case of building on them to create something refreshingly different, whilst retaining all the necessary sign attributes. 

He adds: “Real creativity is the fusion of intelligent design, cost-effectiveness, quality and longevity.”

Quality rules

Another trade supplier is Select Sign Systems, which is able to accommodate all sign types including directories, suspended, projection, directional, doors and toilet signs. Director Nick Slater says that by investing in a sign system, you are basically investing in a kit, so committing to quality materials and service is of major importance.

Select Sign Systems’ new Magnex Sign System offers plenty of flexibility to the client, with panels held in place by powerful magnets

Slater says: “It is important the materials used are of good quality to maintain the longevity of the system along with the quality of the factory-controlled paint finish and graphics applied. Users can extend their kit as they expand or change without having to purchase a whole set of new signage. This makes sign systems very cost-effective.”

In terms of why working with a trade supplier like Select Sign Systems is best for those looking to add modular signs to their offering, Slater says this will ensure that they are getting a quality product with an expert service.

He expands: “We offer a wayfinding service should our clients require this. Alternatively, and most common, the client will send us the general details of their requirements. This will then enable us to work on the aesthetics, look and modules required to achieve their final result.”

Focusing in on the products available from Select Sign Systems, Slater picks out the new Magnex Sign System. Launched at the end of last year, Slater says this system is slick in the way the flexible panels are held in with powerful magnets.

Select Sign Systems urges those new to the market to use quality materials in order to maintain the longevity of the system and the quality of the paint finish and graphics on the sign

He adds: “It also gives the client plenty of opportunity to be more creative and bespoke but still maintain the modularity. The system can also be built without magnets and the graphics can be raised or vinyl.

“We are currently looking to add another two more options to widen the range even further. This will be in the format of two products which are similar in construction except one will be curved and the other flat.”

Focus on service

Elsewhere, although its name may suggest it is more focused on the print sector, Hull-based RMC Digital Print offer a comprehensive modular signs service to the market. General manager Chris Potter makes it clear that committing to quality tools and materials with this sort of work is critical, saying that working with an experienced partner company can help you gain access to profitable work.

Quality service is always key; it’s important to continually invest in this to set yourself apart from the competition

Potter says: “Quality service is always key; it’s important to continually invest in this to set yourself apart from the competition. RMC is always looking in ways to excel in quality service. This includes keeping lead times to a minimum, keeping our clients informed along the production process, and always being friendly and approachable, making sure the client knows nothing is too much trouble.”

RMC Digital Print says its products are popular with clients servicing universities, colleges and hospitals in both the UK and Ireland

Although Potter acknowledges that there is plenty of choice in this sector, with a lot of people competing for the same work and jobs, he says that by working with a trusted partner like RMC can ensure sign-makers gain access to the tools they need to make a successful move into modular signage market.

RMC offers fully furnished modular systems including paint, print, Braille and tactile, as Potter explains: “The main strength of modular sign systems against its competitors is its quality. Some of the other options may be cheaper, but also look it, whereas modular sign systems look great, making the environment look better, therefore increasing the users’ overall experience and signage journey.

“Our signage is slim look and sleek, painted to the highest standard to pretty much and colour requested, complete with either a screen print, digital print or Braille and tactile finish.

“Also, being made with extruded aluminium gives it an increased quality finish to its poorer plastic counterparts. All this helps keep the signs looking fresh, clean and crisp.”

Focusing in on the specific products that RMC offers through its modular signage system service, which is branded as MSS, Potter picks out a number of solutions that are proving popular. These include paper insert holders and wallet-type signs where end users can put notices, timetables or other important information. As this changes daily, the solution needs to be modular.

Potter says: “We have the classis modular sign systems wallet sign and have also developed a magnetic hinged A4 paper holder made from machined out acrylic, sprayed to colour on the clients request.

“The window panel is held in place by magnets with a hidden thumb slot for opening. This has been a popular item for our clients servicing universities and colleges in the UK and Ireland, especially with the death of WSI signs and the I-line system who offered a similar product.”

RMC also offers the HB MSS Classic aluminium modular sign system, which, at just 6mm thick, has proved popular with clients for some time now. It comprises a simple assembly of extruded, interchangeable aluminium profiles that are stove enamelled to an exacting paint finish and will accurately match any RAL, BS, NCS or Pantone reference. Text, graphics and icons are usually screen printed and can also be printed on out UV flatbeds.

Chris Potter, general manager of RMC Digital Print says the main strength of modular sign systems against its competitors is its quality

Potter says: “One of our most flexible interior signage solutions, the HB modular sign system is a strong, yet lightweight, interior scheme that suits a diverse mix of signage requirements and budgets. It is an elegant and robust internal signage solution that is designed by our in-house team of sign design and manufacturing experts.”

Such has been the success of the system, Potter says it has remained relatively unchanged. However, he adds that if a client has a particular requirement, RMC will work with the customer in order to develop a solution.

Potter says: “If one of our clients has a signage design in mind or a problem that needs solving, then we would work with them, drawing down on all our industry knowledge and experience to problem solve.

“This year, RMC will be working on our Braille and tactile wayfinding signage that we produce in-house and use our digital print power to offer a full-colour process to our aluminium modular sign system.”

Diversifying into any new market is not a decision that should be taken lightly, and it is critical that sign-makers establish there is a real demand for the type of work in question from their customers. However, if you are ready to make the move, then working with trusted and experienced partners such as those listed here can help you access new and profitable work.

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