Cannabis: Signing up for it

August 8, 2019

By Ginny Mumm

For school settings, the team at 1 Hour Signs & More produced signs prohibiting vaping and smoking within 20 m (65 ft) of school property and public areas.[1]

For school settings, the team at 1 Hour Signs & More produced signs prohibiting vaping and smoking within 20 m (65 ft) of school property and public areas.

Jodie Parnell, owner of 1 Hour Signs & More in Sudbury, Ont., was not sure what the new marijuana regulations had to do with his business until thousands of ‘no cannabis smoking’ sign requests started pouring in.

In spite of all the publicity about the country’s legalization of recreational cannabis in October 2018, Parnell says he and other signmakers he talked to were not anticipating a large impact on their businesses as a result of the new law.

“I expected we’d be seeing some sign requests here and there, similar to when vaping became a thing,” says Parnell.

In fact, last October, he received very few new cannabis smoking prohibition sign requests. It seemed to take time for businesses and organizations to figure out the legal implications of the new regulations, define where exactly their employees and clients were allowed to use cannabis, and determine what the new legislation required in terms of the language that would be needed on any new signage.

“After this, however, it became a mad rush,” said Parnell.

Dialing in production

Parnell took over 1 Hour Signs & More in 2006, and since then, has maintained a robust production environment.

“Early on, we made the decision to bring in additional equipment instead of hiring more people,” he says. “This judgment call worked out really well for the business as it allows us to complete jobs quickly.”

Today, Parnell operates his 306-m2 (3300-sf) stand-alone shop with help from just two full-time employees. The shop is equipped with three Roland large-format printers and a Roland LEF benchtop ultraviolet (UV) printer to handle any number of projects that come their way.

“We never want to turn away business, so we always try to keep some production capacity available for rush jobs,” adds Parnell.

To this point, 1 Hour Signs & More offers a variety of indoor signage, including exhibit and tradeshow graphics, as well as wayfinding and interior signs, which are compliant with Canadian standards and the Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA). It also offers canvas prints, posters, banners, promotional products, and window, wall, and vehicle graphics. In fact, Parnell’s showroom is full of samples that demonstrate the shop’s range.

“We want to show our clients a variety of projects that are interesting to help start a conversation both about our capabilities and our quality,” he says.

Demand begins to grow

Orders for signs prohibiting smoking, vaping, and cannabis use poured in by the thousands after the new recreational cannabis legislation was passed.[2]

Orders for signs prohibiting smoking, vaping, and cannabis use poured in by the thousands after the new recreational cannabis legislation was passed.

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.

Some of the signs use simple, clear graphics like these to prohibit smoking, vaping and cannabis use.[3]

Some of the signs use simple, clear graphics like these to prohibit smoking, vaping and cannabis use.

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.”

Après le déluge

SIGNING Jodie Parnell operates his 306-m2 (3300-sf) stand-alone sign shop with help from just two full-time employees.[4]

Jodie Parnell operates his 306-m2 (3300-sf) stand-alone sign shop with help from just two full-time employees.

At this point, requests for cannabis smoking prohibition signs have tapered off. Parnell believes they may have reached market saturation in the surrounding area.

“(Even so) it took us running all four printers for about a week, non-stop, to clear the backlog from our December ‘no cannabis smoking’ signmaking adventure,” says Parnell, who used the relatively quiet period that followed to update his showroom and prepare for the next big order to come in.

Over the past few years, Parnell has been focusing his efforts on ensuring his shop can quickly service the ever-growing list of signage needs from its clients.

“As a shop owner whose closest printing equipment dealer is half a workday away, I never want to be in a position where I have to say to a customer: I’m sorry we missed your deadline… my printer is broken. Our printers have kept my company in business,” says Parnell.

These days, Parnell says if they encounter a production lag, it is typically because they are waiting for a supplier to deliver items needed for the job.

“I tend to work only with suppliers who can deliver quickly. All of our suppliers are located more than a four-hour drive away, so we can’t just go and pick up a load of supplies,” he says.

That said, 1 Hour Signs & More’s clients are always impressed with the company’s ability to turn around projects quickly. Parnell credits maintaining a production floor with multiple printers for the reason his shop is able to rapidly produce a wide variety of signage, and for providing the capacity to handle large jobs quickly.

“In this business, you never know who’s going to walk in the door and what they’re going to need. Having versatile, reliable equipment is the foundation 1 Hour Signs & More is built on. We add in the best customer service we can deliver, but I depend heavily on our printers to get the job done. And they always do,” says Parnell.

 

Endnotes:
  1. [Image]: https://www.signmedia.ca/wp-content/uploads/2019/08/IMG_2551.jpg
  2. [Image]: https://www.signmedia.ca/wp-content/uploads/2019/08/IMG_2695.jpg
  3. [Image]: https://www.signmedia.ca/wp-content/uploads/2019/08/IMG_2464.jpg
  4. [Image]: https://www.signmedia.ca/wp-content/uploads/2019/08/Shop-Photo.jpg

Source URL: https://www.signmedia.ca/cannabis-signing-up-for-it/