Mobile Sign Keeps Rolling to Success with Portable VersaCAMM
Island Reflections Corporation | Narragansett, RI
Tim Tibbetts’ sign shop is conveniently located …. anywhere you need it! Tim runs Island Reflections Corporation, (www.Boat-TruckLettering.com) a mobile sign shop based in Rhode Island. His shop is contained in a shiny custom built stainless steel horse trailer, allowing him to produce signage and boat lettering at your door or dock.
Tim has always had a strong entrepreneurial streak. He started out in the early 1990s selling “open/closed” kits that shop owners could mount on their doors. Next he founded a window cleaning business and supplemented that income with a part time job for FedEx. “I used to deliver to the local Roland office, but I had no idea what they did,” said Tim. Tim’s brothers, both in the sign business, sent him a trade magazine to help him get a feel for the market. “I saw an ad for the Roland plotter, and it clicked! I went over to the Roland office, introduced myself, and asked for a demo,” said Tim.
The Roland representative demonstrated the capabilities of the plotter and Tim saw an opportunity to market window graphics to his window cleaning clients. “I purchased the Roland cutting plotter and within three months, I recouped my costs, including materials,” said Tim.
Tim ran his printing business out of his basement for several years while working on his plans for a mobile sign shop. When the time was right, he sold his window cleaning business and with the income profits from the sale he bought an [18’] stainless steel trailer. He had the trailer customized to his specifications, adding lights, heat and air conditioning, then installed his plotter and applied graphics to the exterior that gave his business name and phone number. “Business increased 33% almost immediately,” said Tim. “The mirror-like surface on the trailer attracts a lot of attention -- it’s the only advertising we do.”
“I purchased the Roland cutting plotter and within three months, I recouped my costs, including materials”
Now that his business was mobile, Tim began providing lettering at work sites and marinas. “The Roland performs beautifully and is so easy to use. The quality makes the work an easy sell. The first time I lettered a boat, another owner saw my work and asked me to do his boat. I’ve had as many as five follow-on jobs in one day from a single site visit,” said Tim.
As his business grew, Tim visited his Roland dealer again, this time to purchase a VersaCAMM VP-540 54” printer/cutter. Tim had been outsourcing prints and graphics, and was frustrated with the lag time. “I love the control that having my own printer/cutter offers. The all-in-one applications on the VersaCAMM are a real time saver. We’re a custom business and primarily produce one-off designs. The quality and versatility I get from the VersaCAMM are unmatched.”
Lately, as the economy has slowed, Tim is finding more and more small businesses are choosing vehicle wraps as a marketing tool. “We’ve seen the boat lettering business fall off some, but the full and partial vehicle wraps are definitely increasing. I use Roland inks and the Roland Color system to get the colors right the first time,” said Tim. “It saves everybody time and money.”
Tim’s mobile sign shop also provides signs for construction and real estate firms. “We can drive to the job site and letter the trucks while their owners continue to work. There is no down time for the client, an added service that saves them both time and money. Servicing our clients at their location allows them to continue their work uninterrupted. We have been able to take photos of their projects while we’re there and run back to the shop to make signs advertising their services. People really appreciate the convenience and quality,” said Tim.
Last year, Tim and business partner Rick Dyer started On-Site Graphics, LLC, (www.On-SiteGraphics.com) which sells mobile sign shop trailers like Tim’s as a turnkey business opportunity. They have sold several trailers in the Northeast and one in the Midwest. The new owners keep in touch with Tim and Rick and have formed an informal network, trading ideas and, sometimes, sharing jobs. “Each of our trailers comes equipped with a Roland. There’s no better way to ensure their business will succeed than by providing the best equipment in the industry. The Roland equipment needs less maintenance and delivers higher performance than any other machines I’ve seen. Two of the new trailer owners had a Roland printer even before I did. They provided my print and graphic needs until I finally purchased my own VersaCAMM.”
“Our customers appreciate Roland’s quality and we want to maintain our reputation for producing excellent products,” said Tim. “We rely on Roland to keep our mobile business rolling!”