by carly_mchugh | 31 August 2022 4:52 pm
By Carly McHugh
There is no experience quite like driving through the car wash. Slowly pulling into the enclosure with the door closing behind. Seeing the colourful soap applied in splatters until it covers the entire vehicle. Feeling the water trickle down as it rinses those suds off—and of course, who can forget the turbo dryer at the threshold to whisk away those last few drops?
Washing one’s car is not just an immersive experience, but a personal one as well. Different wash options allow car owners to come and go as they please or stay as long as they like until they have achieved their ideal version of clean. This is why Mint Smartwash sought out National Neon Displays—now amalgamated with Knight Signs Canada—to help facilitate the best possible customer-focused experience with sharp, attractive car wash signage.
National Neon Displays (Knight Signs) began working with the up-and-coming, Alberta-based car wash franchise in August 2020. Comprised of a group of owners, Mint was founded on delivering vehicle cleanliness in a safe, efficient environment while also remaining environmentally responsible. Their car washes use state-of-the art technologies and conservation strategies to monitor water use, recycle wastewater for initial wash and rinse, disperse safe soaps and waxes, and collect and dispose of contaminants and sediments.
Mint originally contacted Knight Signs with a request for a single car wash sign. Following a presentation from the company regarding who they were and the sign installations they had done in the past, they were awarded the contract for their first Mint Smartwash expansion location. When the initial project was completed and Mint saw the work Knight Signs was able to do first-hand, they were awarded contracts for the remaining planned locations.
Since the business relationship began, the Knight Signs team—led by project manager Michael Jug—has completed work on five Mint Smartwash locations in Medicine Hat, Edmonton Argyll, Edmonton Grove, Red Deer, and Calgary. They are currently finalizing work on two more in Regina, Sask., and Lethbridge, Alta. The Lethbridge location is the original Mint Smartwash, and Knight Signs has been contracted to update its signs for consistency with all the new locations.
Each Mint Smartwash location requires a variety of sign types—from large pylons with double-sided P10 digital displays to immense acrylic push-through logos, aluminum channel letters, digital advertising kiosks, directional wayfinding signs, and vinyl decals applied to rigid surfaces and substrates. A typical site will have three logos, one or two pylons, two monuments, two kiosks, and three or four sets of channel letters. In total, there can be as many as 15 building or branding signs per location, plus another 75 smaller dibond wayfinding signs. To date, Knight Signs has manufactured and installed approximately 600 signs for Mint Smartwash locations.
The designs for each location were done by Mint’s own designer, Howa Architecture of Twin Falls, Idaho. Through their design-assist process, Knight Signs provided material suggestions with budget pricing and created the fabrication designs for each sign type. All types of tools and craftsmanship were used to build the signs, such as channel benders, sheet metal breaks, steel and aluminum welding, computer numerical control (CNC) routers, pain booths, and ultraviolet (UV) printers. The sign pieces varied in size, from 304.8 mm
(12 in.) to 9.4 m (31 ft) high. The materials used during the building process included aluminum, steel, acrylic, diabond, vinyl, paint, and light-emitting diode (LED) lights.
All signs were transported to their respective locations using Knight Signs’ flatbed trailers and were installed using cranes and bucket trucks. The general contractor for all Mint Smartwash locations was Fillmore Construction Management of Edmonton. Knight Signs co-ordinated their installations with them, along with the Mint group, before they sent their crews out to begin the installation process. The installations were nothing out of the ordinary for the highly successful sign company, and did not require any lane or sidewalk closures, which would have created delays. Plenty of space was available to accommodate the tools and machines for the install, including the cranes. The installation process for all the signs took roughly two weeks to complete for each location.
A unique structural aspect of the car wash building is the blue and green blades running down the sides and surrounding the entrance and exit. The smaller blades have also been designed to illuminate with matching green LED border tubing used as accent lighting. Knight Signs was asked to build these unique giant blades; however, they initially served as a structural challenge, as they were not in the company’s wheelhouse. They had past experience with designing and building gas station canopies, but these particular blades required a manufacturing solution to make them feasible, as they were at risk of falling over. Several revisions needed to be made to Knight Signs’ engineered shop drawings before they arrived at the ideal way to manufacture them. The proper base and mounting details had to be provided and ultimately stamped by an engineer. This was important for installation purposes, to ensure the blades were properly fastened and had properly sized bases to hold them in place.
Ultimately, the combination of signs, graphics, lighting, and colours all worked together in the design and execution processes, to present each Mint Smartwash building as one giant, uniform logo. The amount and size of the signs, as well as the consistency in design between locations, successfully brings the brand to life and makes the car washes easily identifiable.
Through its sharp, attractive signage design, Mint Smartwash has created an inviting, clean, and fun atmosphere, which helps show off the personality of the brand. Plus, the well-planned wayfinding signage at each location allows for clear navigation through the car wash—facilitating a smooth customer experience.
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