Demand begins to grow
When the cannabis smoking prohibition sign requests started coming in, between November and December, many were from new clients. Larger orders also came in from Parnell’s existing clients. The new signs were needed for businesses ranging from those in the healthcare industry to retail shops, restaurants, and malls. They were also required for colleges and multi-unit residential dwellings.
Most of the orders Parnell received were for 50 signs or less and comprised standard-size aluminum signs (either 305 x 457 mm [12 x 18 in.] or 457 x 609 mm [18 x 24 in.]), which, according to Parnell, facilitates supply requests and optimizes print material yields.
“We can produce orders of this size in a day or two,” he says.
As time went on, Parnell realized his relationships with his suppliers were key to fulfilling the growing influx of orders. This became especially clear one day in December when 1 Hour Signs & More received an order for 1785 ‘no-smoking’ signs.
Supplying the demand
As Parnell learned, there are not really thousands of aluminum sign blanks in the supply pipeline at any one time, especially if one’s shop is located four hours away from a metropolitan area. This led to a serious problem as the order had to be on the client’s loading dock prior to the end of their fiscal year, or the purchase order would be cancelled.
“If you want 1800 aluminum sign blanks, you have to order them and wait a few weeks,” says Parnell. “This is perfectly reasonable… unless you only have two weeks to complete the job.
“We are a small shop, and applying vinyl to 1785 signs takes time. We couldn’t wait two to three weeks for the aluminum to get here and then start laying vinyl. We just didn’t have the time, and we didn’t want to lose the order.”
Parnell placed the order for 1800 aluminum sign blanks and hoped for the best. His supplier had about 500 units in stock, so Parnell had those shipped to him, but he was still short by more than 1000 units.
“Knowing our supplier gets regular shipments of inventory, I would call every few days and hijack every sign blank in their pipeline—from all across Canada,” says Parnell. “Thankfully, we work with a great supplier, and their customer service team was always happy to help.”
Luckily, the 1800-unit order came in a bit early, which enabled 1 Hour Signs & More to complete the job.
To handle this enormous production demand, Parnell relied on his 1372-mm (54-in.) print/cut VersaCAMM and 1626-mm (64-in.) VersaART printer, reserving his 762-mm (30-in.) VersaCAMM and LEF flatbed UV printer for any last-minute jobs that came in.
“Tying up all our equipment for one job—even a big job like this one—doesn’t help us maintain good client relationships. By keeping something in reserve, we usually have a machine available for those emergency ‘it’s Friday afternoon and I forgot that we’re in a trade show this weekend’ type jobs,” he says.
Fortunately, Parnell’s two largest printers have the same printheads, and both run Roland’s Eco-Sol MAX ink sets.
“In addition, we have custom (International Color Consortium) ICC profiles that offer very similar output, so we knew we’d have good colour consistency between the two machines,” says Parnell. “Our printers were integral
to completing this project. They just kept producing day after day, and we finished the job on time.”