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Sam Armstrong

Jo Golding speaks to Sam Armstrong, director of Make it Happen, about the company’s mission to bring training into the world of signage

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Sam Armstrong is the director of Make it Happen, a signage consultancy bringing valuable training and support to the sign industry

Signage consultancy makes it happen

What is your professional background before and in the sign industry?

I joined the sign industry 17 years ago after returning from maternity leave. Having previously been a wedding co-ordinator, it was very difficult to organise clients’ weddings but not to be there on their ‘big day’ as you became part of their family somewhat during the organisation.

Civil weddings at venues had just become possible so meant that they were taking place Thursday through to Sunday making it impossible to have a family and work life balance.

My career path lead into working for two fantastic manufacturing companies. I loved the staff, clients and watching something being created from an initial image on a screen.

Why did you decide to start your own signage consultancy, and what were the best and most challenging aspects?

The M1, can I say that? My passion in life has always been supporting people, I knew I would love to have my own company one day. When my youngest child at the age of 14 said, ‘Mum, we never see you anymore’, it was honestly a light bulb moment!

The best moments? There are so many. We launched our Education Programme just over a year ago and the support, enthusiasm, engagement and feedback have been at times almost overwhelming. I can honestly say it feels more like a hobby than work. Both Katie and Zoe wanting to join me, I would say that was a highlight for sure. The most challenging moments? The first time I stood up in a room full of clients on the training with 30+ years’ experience as opposed to my young 17, I was so nervous it was untrue.

Can you summarise what your company offers to people in the sign industry?

While working for a trade fabricator for over 16 years, it became apparent that there was very little support, education or training in the world of fabricated and illuminated signs. This gave Make it Happen the foundation of our business.

While working for a trade fabricator for over 16 years, it became apparent that there was very little support, education or training in the world of fabricated and illuminated signs

Our programme demonstrates and allows the delegates to truly understand product specifications, labour processes, technical requirements and the workmanship that goes into creating a sign. We offer new products, techniques and solutions to assist staff with design ideas and a more consultative approach to selling.

Make it Happen’s programme allows people to understand the workmanship that goes into creating a sign

We cover everything from flat cut letters to totems and a showcase of new and exciting products on the market. From April 2017 when first released, 400 delegates attended to date with experience ranging from no experience to 43 years in the industry. We also became CPD accredited in May 2018.

Make it Happen’s one day education courses are run by Armstrong and have been receiving great feedback

Our discounted apprentice day which is being launched in September 2018 (after tremendous feedback from Walsall College whom have attended and are sending two further assessors).

We cover everything from flat cut letters to totems and a showcase of new and exciting products on the market

Make it Happen is a resource to the industry beyond the training programme. We have been involved in sourcing products for our clients, project management - one on a very large scale for a major retailer where we were hired for the duration of pulling the project together.

Sign fabrication requires a great deal of skill

Make it Happen supports the industry and our clients when needed, without the full-time commitment or overhead of taking on an additional member of staff.

What has the feedback been like from those who have attended courses/programmes?

The testimonials and feedback have been totally amazing. We have been recognised by so many, of offering something back into the industry that simply didn’t exist. Our collaboration with the BSGA in January of this year gave us a real boost. The feedback from our clients has been ‘we want more’, so we are half way through writing a new course. We have several other plans for the future that haven’t been released yet, so keep an eye out!

What do you think is one of the biggest challenges facing sign-makers today?

My largest fear is that our clients can so easily fall into a trap of offering a product they are familiar with selling as opposed to pushing boundaries and really being creative with materials that are being introduced. Tactile, textures and imagery are so key, offering sound advice and being bold with suggestions and taking the more consultative approach appears to be lost, we hope to support clients to capture this or give them the tools to stand out.

Key stats

  • 17 years in the sign industry for Armstrong
  • 3rd year in business
  • Became CPD accredited in May 2018
  • Worked for a trade fabricator for 16 years

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