Sign Hub: Production that Fills the Quality Gap
Sign Hub | Russellville, Arkansas
In 2014, they launched Sign Hub and, Nick says, “we’ve been busy from day one.” Today, they are in their third expanded location with two employees, and the future looks bright.
We caught up with Nick to talk about his bold decision to start a business from scratch, how they attracted and grew their long list of clients, and what lies ahead for Sign Hub.
Tell us more about how you started Sign Hub.
Nick Ouzts: Just out of high school I was looking for a job and my Dad suggested I talk to my grandpa, who owned a tax business and had started franchising. I put together a little sign package for his franchisees with banners, Coroplast signs and decals. I worked there for many years while I completed my college education. I had wanted to be a fine artist, but wasn’t sure that would pay the bills, so I pursued graphic design instead. When I graduated at 29, my wife and I moved to Florida and I worked for a small sign shop in an office products store. I learned a lot there.
When our son was born, we decided to move home to be near our families. We had identified that Russellville needed a sign shop that truly focused on the basics: quality production and outstanding customer service. It sounds really simple, but that is exactly what the town was missing.
“We can leave the [VG2-640] to run overnight – we just load up the inks and let it go. In addition, the new quick dry feature is a real time saver. ”In 2014, we started Sign Hub with our savings and we hit the ground running. It’s been a lot of hard work but we’ve been busy from day one, and we’ve outgrown our two previous locations.
What’s your shop like today?
Our new shop is a 4,000-square-foot freestanding facility, just off a main street. It’s a big open space with the printer and laminator visible in the back. My wife, Jessica, is the first person clients see, along with our dog Kahlo.
In the beginning I did just about everything myself. I still have my hand in every job, but we have hired another designer and an installer.
What led you to choose Roland DG's technology?
My grandpa had a Roland DG SOLJET which I used to make the franchisee signage, and that’s what got me onboard with Roland DG’s technology. That thing was a workhorse.
When we moved back to Russellville and opened Sign Hub, we bought the SOLJET from my grandpa. That printer lasted us until 2019, when we got the Roland DG TrueVIS VG2-640 64-inch printer/cutter.
We did our research, and the VG2’s price and new, wider ink gamut were really attractive. Another big feature is the ability to print orange. We do work for several companies that have orange in their logos, and the new orange ink really pops. Now we have the VG2-640 along with a Roland DG CAMM-1 GR-540 vinyl cutter– a nice combination for fast and accurate production workflow.
Who are your customers?
We serve clients in the retail, industrial, restaurant and healthcare sectors, as well as large and small service industry customers. We do a lot of work for Tyson and other plants around here. We’ve worked with the hospital, the fire department and city hall’s planning division. We also work with nonprofits like Friendship Community Care.
A lot is happening right now in Russellville. The whole downtown area is being revamped, and new companies are coming in, some of them because of the world class mountain biking trails at Mount Nebo State Park. I’m working on a complete signage package right now for a new bike shop in town. We also have orders for window graphics and interior signage as part of the downtown renovations.
It happens weekly that a client wants something done that they should have gotten on a month ago. The speed of the VG2 really helps us out. We can leave the printer to run overnight – we just load up the inks and let it go. In addition, the new quick dry feature is a real time saver.
What would you consider to be your shop's specialties?
We do lots and lots of vinyl graphics – for windows, walls, floors and vehicles. In addition to full vehicle wraps, we do a ton of partial wraps, or “door slaps,” along with lettering and logos for trucks, cars and vans. We also produce decals, yard signs for construction and solar businesses, banners – you name it.
A lot of clients come to us for a full branding package. My favorite thing to work on is dimensional standoff backlit interior signage. We also do custom exterior signage.
How has COVID-19 affected your business? Are you starting to see a return to normal?
We were fortunate to be able to remain open as an essential business. Our employees worked from home and my wife and I were in the shop. There were still a lot of businesses in this area that were open. Within just a few weeks we were back to being busy. Tyson Foods and other clients needed safety signage. We produced a lot of floor graphics and directional signage, as well as signs that described new ways of operating, like “drive through only,” etc. Now things are starting to come back to almost normal.
What lies ahead for Sign Hub? Are there areas of your business you'd like to expand?
When we first started, we were selling everything from paper posters to outdoor signage. As we’ve grown, we’ve been able to narrow down the list to what we want to do.
We’ll always provide high quality vinyl graphics for our clients. There’s so much versatility with vinyl, and having the VG2 makes it easy to produce vibrant designs quickly and accurately. We love being able to provide wraps and custom signage solutions for our customers. There’s probably a router in our future as well.