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In-house production facility a positive sign of the times

PERTH-BASED national sign specialist WA Sign & Print Management has expanded to become the only such company in the state with in-house sign production capabilities. WASP’s recent establishment of stand-alone general sign production company, Sign Making Solutions at Malaga, was prompted by some sub contractors producing non-conforming signage and late deliveries. “You are only as good as your worst supplier and we found that some of our contractors were just not making the grade. We needed to ensure the end product was exactly what the client wanted, on time and on budget. This non performance was beginning to hurt us,” WASP director Simon Church told WA Business News. WASP was established in July 2003 by four people, previously operating two different companies, with more than 80 years’ collective experience in different areas of the sign industry from design, screen printing, neon and digital signage, to general signage production and installation. The company acts as an ongoing manager/coordinator for a broad range of signage, from concept to final production, inside and out, large and small, Australia-wide. Various work is carried out on behalf of advertising agency clients including the RAC, Water Corp and BankWest for the Brand Agency, Satterley Group for BCY and Keenheat, Police & Nurses Credit Union for Trilogy Advertising & Marketing, along with signage for Western QBE and Cable Beach Club Resort. Besides having a solid corporate base, the company has a strong sporting focus, sponsoring and producing signage for Perth Glory, Perth Wildcats, Perth Orioles, the Activ Foundation and the annual City to Surf event. The sub contractor problem was in general signage and its installation. “We decided the only way to ensure quality and delivery schedules was to do it ourselves in house,” Mr Church said. The decision was made to establish a new production arm incorporating metal fabrication, general sign manufacture, vinyl graphics, full installation services, special project signage and storage, all under one roof. A number of problems became immediately apparent. WASP’s headquarters and sales office at 108 Stirling Highway, Nedlands, was not zoned for production and was too small. “We love this location. It works for us and is one of our points of difference. There is no other signage company in this area,” Mr Church said. The all-under-one-roof option was under threat, so the direct-ors decided to ask their clients. “We surveyed our clients and their overwhelming response was that they wanted us in Nedlands, close to where most of them were and it didn’t matter where the production facility was. Their view was that having our own production arm would only make our service and product better, and that was good for them,” Mr Church said. The all-under-one-roof option was dropped. The next step was to find premises – a factory/ware-house, office, design area, sign storage area and yard – so WASP turned to property consultants Burgess Rawson and leasing executive Brian Neo. Mr Neo told WA Business News there was a dearth of such properties around Perth at present. A sea-rch of nearby suburbs yielded nothing, so he was forced to look further afield. While he did so, Mr Church renewed an old working friendship with sign installation professional Barry Mineham, who had a range of specialist equipment, including a cherry picker. “He was looking for premises and we needed a reliable, expert installer. It is a good mix, but meant we needed bigger premises,” Mr Church said. Mr Neo’s brief changed and a design/construct option raised before the search eventually yielded 35a Boulder Rd, Malaga. Thus SMS was born and is now headed up by WASP director Pete Gardner and new prod-uction manager, Toby McPherson. Tom Waddle, of tenant and buyer representatives Premium Property Corporate, agreed the current commercial property market offered few opportunities to buy or lease. The route pursued by WASP was the right one, to appoint a properly briefed tenant or buyer’s agent, who knows the market and could ensure the best operational and financial out-come, Mr Waddle said. WASP’s humble beginnings go back to July 2000 when, after many years in the sign business, Mr Church and Edi Bolzicco established ESP Sign & Print Management in the dining room of Mr Church’s suburban home. Within six months they secured a $1 million contract to design, manufacture and place signage in 2,000 liquor stores throughout Australia. As the business prospered and grew, it came into contact with another sign company, Sign Enterprises, owned by Mr Gardner and Mark Robertson. The four soon realised they could offer a more comprehensive service together than independ-ently, and WASP was formed. In 2003-2004, WASP turned over $1.8 million, this year $2.4 million and next year expects revenues of $3 million plus.

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