Print businesses find assistance in the most uncommon of places. When family owned, these establishments blossom into environments where help is given without being asked. This is even truer when tasked with creating a larger than life application, such as graphics for the National Collegiate Athletic Association’s (NCAA’s) Final Four Men’s Basketball Championship, in a tight turnaround. Ideal Signs, with locations in Abita Springs, LA and Georgetown, TX, worked through this project—like many others—with great success, evoking the print service provider’s (PSP’s) resilience that was challenged after losing its shop in Hurricane Katrina.
LA to TX and Back
Mark and Michele Dillon, co-owners, Ideal Signs, are fifth and sixth, respectively, generation New Orleans, LA residents. In business since 1969, Mark’s father began Ideal Signs and Mark grew up with a deep appreciation for the hand painted sign trade. After college, Mark purchased the company from his father and incorporated digital printing. The husband and wife team lost the entire sign shop in 2005 from Hurricane Katrina.
After the loss, the Dillons decided to move to TX and re-start the business. While it was prosperous, they found their clients in New Orleans continuing to request jobs. Seven years later, the Dillons decided to come home. However, instead of closing the TX location—which was thriving—they decided to keep it open and work within two highly profitable geographical regions.
Today Ideal Signs creates banners, hand painted signs, vehicle wraps, ADA signage, and custom routed signs for clientele in both LA and TX. Between the two locations the Dillons staff about 15 people and operate out of 20,000 square feet of space.
“It’s a bit crazy since the move, we bounce back and forth between the two locations,” admits Michele Dillon. The home base is in LA and they’ve set up the TX location with a number of trusted companions, but every once and awhile they make the trek to TX to handle print jobs or installs.
2012 marked the grand re-opening of the Ideal Signs LA location. “It’s awesome, like we never left,” says Dillon.
Ideal Signs welcomed two printers from Teckwin International, LLC after researching the devices at the Specialty Graphic Imaging Association’s trade show in New Orleans, LA in October 2011.
The TS-300 is a UV flatbed with a roll option that allows for printing of both rigid and flexible substrates. A roll-to-roll device, the TeckPro UV3200 is ideal for UV printing of vinyl, banner, films, papers, and fabrics; it offers simultaneous printing on multiple rolls. The Dillons were attracted to the devices based on Teckwin’s reliable customer service as well as the ability of the printers to output gorgeous graphics.
One of the first projects done at the new LA location with the Teckwin printers was for the NCAA Final Four, held at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome in New Orleans, LA at the end of March and beginning of April. Ideal Signs is no stranger to the NCAA, they’ve worked with the league before, a record number of five times.
In about two days the shop turned around 1,000 directional signs printed on a variety of material, from foamcore to Coroplast by Coroplast, and even Ultra Board from United Industries. Both Teckwin printers were used due to their speed, color gamut, and white ink capabilities. The signs varied from free standing four- by eight-foot displays or 12x16-inch easel backs. In addition, interior banners measuring eight by 1,000 feet were created.
Despite the familiarity of the project, it was still challenging. As Dillon explains, even though Ideal Signs was notified about the job months in advance, they couldn’t print anything until they knew which four teams advanced in the tournament. This generally doesn’t happen until about four days prior to the Final Four event.
During this time, it was all hands on deck at Ideal Signs. “It’s simply understood there is no complaining and no sickness during that time—it’s just get it done. Mark and I have three kids and we had their grandparents come and watch them because it was two, 20 hour long days working on this signage,” explains Dillon. The actual installation took two to three days.