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Post Sat May 24, 2003 9:09 pm

Sign UK Post Mortem

Went to the show on tuesday and was very impressed.

Probably because it was my first time but I came away with some very good tips and a little hands on experience which helped me with an awkward job yesterday.

The Spandex stand had demos of applying vinyl in deep recesses and you could have a go, something new for me. I was surprised at how easy it was (with a small piece of vinyl) especially with the gloves that they market. Managed to blagg a pair from them to try, also half a dozen felt squeegies and knives etc. An Excellent stand for the beginner.

There were a lot of large format printers that although way out of my league were very impressive to have a gander at.

I came away with bags full of blagged colour swatches of all types of vinyl and materials which will really help me when dealing with customers.

Overall in my view a very informative and useful day out for someone just starting out in the trade.

Will most definately be going next year.

What did the rest of you think??

Finally, cheers to Brian Hays at Impact for a good deal :wink:
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Post Sat May 24, 2003 10:35 pm

A lot less than impressed here I'm afraid. :cry:

For an industry that is largely aimed at business promotion, it is amazingly inept at promoting itself.

I wandered around with Sparky and Steve Broughton and hardly knew whether to laugh or cry as stand after stand failed to answer basic questions and/or were unable to provide catalogues, samples or even price lists. I lost count of the number of times I was told "Sorry, we are in the middle of producing new catalogues/lists - they should be ready soon"

Well sorry guys, but this is the annual show for the UK. You knew the dates for it a year ago at least and you should be prepared.

Europoint had a stand - but I'm not sure why. Nothing much on show etc.

At one end of the hall was a very poorly wrapped van. We could not believe that it was put up as an example of someones work. And the demo area was really only a bit of window splashing and some gilding.

Lots of large format machines, yes - but not much in the way of media on offer to keep them running.

On the whole not as good as 2002.


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Post Sat May 24, 2003 10:59 pm

the show

it's going to be interesting how this thread unfolds, as im sure we will get many views on sign uk

looking at it from the suppliers side, we had a very busy show,

we had our price list on cd rom, together with any other data we could fit on to the disc,

loads of 851 series cast colour swatches to hand out together with 651, and 751 cards,

forex classic, forex top and alucolor swatches went down well,

we presented them all together in an Orafol carrier bag,

if i counted correctly i think we had no less than 4 people available to talk to, but i've got to say that the day and a half that i was there i was rushed off my feet,

thank you to you all that took the trouble to stop at the Europoint stand and helping make it a worth while avent.

the above is from the stands point of view, :)

also my little boy of 4 loved his giant spiderman print that i was kindly given :(scrounged) that was printed on a new Arizona
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Post Sun May 25, 2003 7:26 am

Fair enough,

But maybe 4 was not enough. I don't recall seeing the Orafol carrier bags being carried around and I didn't get the impression of there being much to see on the stand. I know it's always difficult to give attention to all potential customers in such a busy environment but a little more thought put into the presentation may have helped. Why not half a metre of 851 for people to take away and try for example, or a small demo of it's capabilities?

Anyway, it was maybe a little unfair of me to mention Europoint when so many others were similarly guilty. It will be interesting, as you say, to see how the thread unfolds, those attending for the first time may have found it of more benefit. From my point of view it will be interesting to see how many of those exhibitors I left details with take the trouble to follow up my enquiries. Last year at least 50% never bothered. A number of those were not in attendance this year - maybe they thought their last attendance had not produced enough results. :roll: :-?

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Post Sun May 25, 2003 8:02 am

For Me this show was pi** poor

Loads of people all selling or supplying the same machines with different badges on at the same horrendous prices. very few people on the stands fully understand what they are talking about or the ones who do are to busy or gone for a break.

Like Chalkie trying to find a catalogue with what you needed on was impossible.

The one machine I was interested in the Nautilus was just stuffed in the middle of the stand and nobody seemed interested in giving much information and the gaffer himself ended up talking to us. He tried his best but was drowned out by the two guys doing a vehicle wrap demo. which was even less impresive as the finnish that was on the 4X4 looked like it had had a real bad spray job. We Know they can do a good job as we had a good look at the van outside. So Why show a such a poor example inside?

But To Say that this was the best example at the show which it was grates with me. has to how an industry thats is trying to drive the digital revouluton :lol: and all sell these machines give no consideration as to how you are going to use the end product. the one company that I did spot that had come up with a new idea had no litrature only brought a few hundred didnt thik it would be this busy and this was early on day 2 (:)

Another stand was launching a new sign mag i will hope to see that they take notice of the people and have a real mag not just driven by the advertisers as most of the others are. Time will tell.

I did find a couple of things on leds to be interesting at least the one guy had the sense to say that the samples were limited and they were only selling the leds and what you do with them is invent your own ideas and they will help with the tecnical probs with you. the one stunning example on the spandex stand " just build for the show Mate I dont think their For sale" :wink:

The only thing that made my day was meeting a few of the guys off of the boards and I would have taken them to lunch if the catering facilitys had been any good. ( Full Of people off the stands who looked as bored as i was)

Next year try getting some suppliers who sell products that we may find useful enough to buy instead of all the machines that would bankrupt most normal small firms.
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Post Sun May 25, 2003 8:09 am

I think that SignUK is always going to be the most impressive and useful to people on the first couple of visits (unless of course you are on the look out for something in particular) because you are generally going too see the same suppliers and the same products. For me the Europoint stand was just right, but then I know and use the company anyway so did not need to see a collection of vinyls. A couple of years ago I was using one major supplier and spending a fortune, not aware of all the others out there, so in that respect SignUK has been very useful to me, ive met lots of people and saved lots of money.
It is strange that one of the lasting memories of SignUK for me was that badly wrapped van - looked impressive from a distance but close inspection revealed bad joins and air bubbles, ive never wrapped anything and am sure it is a difficult process but I would never allow work
to come out of our studio of that standard, yep Chalkie I know the one you mean.
I will definately make it a yearly pilgrimage, if for nothing else but to drool over some of the latest technology, that big flat bed printer chucking around a piece of 10mm foamex was most impressive
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Post Sun May 25, 2003 8:17 am

Quite right Bob,

We need a range of products which we can buy small samples of, to take away and try, to see if they are the sort of things we could justifiably order in larger quantities. I wouldn't mind buying the odd metre of several different kinds of speciality vinyls, for example, to experiment with at home (if the distributors are not keen enough to give out freebies) so I don't see why the exhibitors can't bring a few rolls with them. I am much more likely to say "Hey this is good stuff -I'll give this Company an order" than I am to take a risk on sending away for 5m lengths (that I can only see a colour swatch of) with the attendant carriage costs.

Spandex were handing out good samples of the new Avery vinyl so if that works well, I am, in theory, more likely to buy that than 851.

Apart from vinyl, it would be nice to be able to buy small items like felt squeegees, frog juice, one-shot etc, all the items your normal vinyl supplier might not (probably doesn't!) sell.

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Post Sun May 25, 2003 8:56 am

I was also dissapointed.

There were stalls empty or not attended. There were stalls with just a chap there, sitting down, talking an his mobile, taking not one bit of notcie of the customers walking past. Some of the stalls even had the stands roped off so you coudn`t go in, you just had to walk around. Some had just a person standing there, giving no idea of the product they were promoting.

I was one of the first to be let in, so perhaps they weren`t ready yet...

I thought it was over dominated by the large format printers. Perhaps just me, as I`m not into that side..

Euro point.. Have to agree with some of the comments. Apart from the reps, what else was there. I saw no samples or other stuff.

The best stands for me was Spandex and Cox. Spoke to both at length about SL to run the edge. Both very helpful. Cox had a good deal going. If you have omega, you could up grade to SL, still keep Omega and they would upgrade my other version of SL as well to the same leval. Could be calling you on that one Tony.

I do know it is very exspencive to have a stall at the NEC. If they were to drop the price, it would open up the show to alot more manufacturers.

I would like to see more of the A board/ banner people, more of the everyday stuff we use. We neeed more than 1 suppier for these items.

Left with a few sample. Hexis was giving away lengths of vinyl. When I opened it, it was a shade of green/turquse I`d never use it in a million years,so it went in the bin. Their free banner did save my life though later in the week.

Agree on the catalouge and price lists comments. It`s nearly June 03, I was been given 02 price lists by some firms. Or as already mentioned " they`re not arrived from the printers yet" Come on guys get your act together.

One thing that really bugs me. You look in a catalouge, see something you want, they have to ring for a price. Why can`t they include price lists with their promotional materal.

O well, sign uk 04 here we come.....

ps. one of the best NEC shows for me, was the promoto 03. The stands were packed, loads of info and samples. sign uk could take a leaf out of their book....
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Post Sun May 25, 2003 10:38 am

I was disappointed and wished I hadn't wasted the time.
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Post Sun May 25, 2003 10:52 am

and here was me wishing I could have been there!

These reports sound much like sign shows have been here for some years, although I am sure they are much smaller here.

At one time they were really good to attend, you could find everything from quills to plotters, paints to routers.

As numbers grew smaller the organisers tended to merge with screen printing, display and printing industries, making the show less relevant to the signwriters.
Brushes dissappeared, paint likewise, plotters even gave way to large format printers with glossy posters spewing all over the floor.

I have become less interested in them.
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Post Sun May 25, 2003 1:38 pm

Gray...

Got it in one. :D

There used to be a really good show at the Design Centre in Islington about ten or fifteen years ago. I went there as a complete novice and walked away having ordered absolutely everything I needed to set up in business, from a vast choice of suppliers.

At SignUK 2003 there were a few vinyl suppliers, of use to the newcomer perhaps, but I have got that sussed. As you suggest, it was overpowered by digital printers spewing out vinyl all over the floor and I have absolutely no interest in them whatsoever, certainly not until they have evolved a bit more into something that will do the job i want them to do.

For the reasons you state, I only go to SignUK every second or third year, just to see if there is anything I'm missing. This year there was nothing.
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Post Sun May 25, 2003 8:05 pm

Sum it up in one word C R A P !

Every year for the last six years I keep promising myself I shall save the time and trouble of getting to the show as this is definately going to be the last show I go to............but I still go in the hope that the next one they will get right.

Do they not realise that the bulk of the sign industry is made up of the one man and his dog scenerio. Not all companies are endless money pits that can throw 20K at it in one go.

I think that they have lost touch with the Professional sign man, the one who actually does the job, not the bloke who sits on the throne and knows bu**er all about the grass roots of the business and has a bottomless money pit, but the man with the design capability, brush or computer in hand and the know how of the job.

I was one of the first in on Wednesday and went up to a chap who was selling a sign estimating program, I started asking him questions, which most of which he could not answer and quickly brushed me aside with a "Look mate I don't want to keep you away from the rest of the show and boring you with the details, just give me a business card and we will send you a demo CD in the post, that way I can talk to the next punter who turns up" Well I was gobsmacked! what a ruddy way to treat a potential customer. I hope no one buys his flipping program with an attitude like that (:) (:) (:)

I thought the demo area was a really pathetic effort, did it really take a whole year to think that one up. Ok the only "Craftsman" on the stall was a pleasure to talk to but that sign splash thing was a total embarasement :oops: I am glad to say last years was a whole lot better with the airbrushing guys, the mirror demos were first class (the guy who was there this year) and a whole lot more to see and learn.

I went on the Roland stall to talk to someone as I had a question to ask, but after waiting 10 mins for someone to free up I just walked away.

I saw and chatted to my contact on the Antalis stand and had a cup of coffee from him, but as he called on me only a week before the show he didn't really say anything I hadn't heard before.

I definately think that the price of the stands have a huge bearing on who attends these shows and that means the money grabbing machine comes first before the quality of "quantity" ie the smaller supplier who provides the wider scope to the man in the street.

Will they learn from their mistakes, I think not, next year will be so bland with just wide format printers that no punter will attend and that will be the last show of its kind! :roll:


Next year.................

Maybe NOT! :roll:
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Post Sun May 25, 2003 8:19 pm

Not too impressed, too much digital!.
I did however get my hands on literature from Ashby which had previously been out of print. I also managed to get a good deal on clip art and vehicle outlines from Impact, even got discount for cash! :P :P .

Cheers
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Post Sun May 25, 2003 10:18 pm

Mike,

You couldn't talk to Roland? That made me smile! :D

You must be in walking distance of their Headquarters but I know exactly what you mean. I tried loads of times to get someone at HQ to talk to me, all efforts completely ignored :-? .

Makes you wonder how they stay in business.

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Post Tue May 27, 2003 9:10 am

:( Ditto etc. only saving grace got to meet Chalkie and 'little' Fat Bob :lol: I feel it has got worse over the years, maybe if we forwarded these comments on to the organizing company they might do something about it. Hmm I'm sure a pig just flew past my window :wink:
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Post Tue May 27, 2003 10:14 am

This was my third show, and have have to agree with most of the above. I went along looking for a nice new plotter (surely the main piece of kit in any sign/garment printing workshop), and there was less choice than 3 years ago! Graphtec had a new machine - but didn't know how it worked (it's just to look pretty mate!).

Target Transfers had the temerity to tell me that the printer they recommended to me two weeks previously wasn't suitable for the job, and that their sales staff should not be expected to know any technical details. They also told me that their product wasn't outrageously expensive - it was my pricing structure that was wrong.

So maybe it was worth going after all - I know which suppliers I won't be using.........

Oh, hi by the way. New to the board, learnt loads so far, and had a good chuckle. :lol:
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Post Tue May 27, 2003 10:31 am

Welcome to the boards Alastair.

Last year Xpress were pushing their new top of the range solution - the Roland CJ500.

Only a few months later they had discontinued it - dropped like a stone. I often wondered how many people had invested in it after seeing it at the show and what problems they had run into.

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Post Tue May 27, 2003 10:55 am

I was dissapointed that I couldn't make the show, but not so now that I've read all your comments. There are a couple of companies stands mentioned that I would have liked to have visited in person to get some real answers following a lack of response from telephone calls etc., (nothing like raising your voice about an unresolved problem you've had in the middle of the NEC!!) but it doesn't sound like that would have been the case?
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Post Tue May 27, 2003 12:23 pm

Hi Alistair :D and welcome to the UKSignBoards!

...I couldn't make it the the show - had a rush of work last week - legs and back still aching now! :-?

The last time I went (2 years ago I think) it was virtually all digital even back then. The demo area was good on that occasion, but I take it it wasn't this year? - I remember reading the flyer for this years show and thinking 'oh dear - where have all the live demo people gawn?' :(

more soon

mike
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Post Tue May 27, 2003 1:43 pm

Hi All,

From a suppliers point of view, the ringing in our ears (phones) generally indicates a successful exhibition. Apart from the odd lull, the seven staff and two vehicle wrappers on our stand were constantly busy. As you'll appreciate, its a difficult task to please all of the people all of the time, but reading comments here - positive or negative - can only go towards understanding what's required of us as a supplier, from small and large businesses alike.

Thanks to those that took time to visit our stand.

Best regards,

Debbie :)
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Post Tue May 27, 2003 5:13 pm

Errr maybe there were lots of digital printers because half on the hall was the digital print show. Just a thought ;)

It's unlikely you are gonna see any small companies exhibiting in the near future. A stand costs around £235 per sq metre, then you have to add something like £120 per plug socket! They also charge a fortune for rental of desks etc.

We generally do reasonably well at Sign UK, but still every year it is getting more dificult to justify spending in excess of £4,000 to exhibit. How many small companies would even recover their costs by exhibiting?

I can tell you it will be exactly the same next year, Wednesday morning somebody from the exhibition organisers came round trying to sign people up for next year (:) He was offering £5 per sq metre discount though!!

They did offer a cheaper option to 1st time exhibitors a few years back, whereby you could have a reasonable stand for I think about £800. Not sure why they ditched that? Maybe some of the bigger companies wern't too impressed?
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Post Tue May 27, 2003 5:37 pm

A few years ago I had a stand at Sign Scandinavia, I think its run by the same people Miller Freeman or something like that.

I built everything myself, and it still cost loads, for a 3x4m stand, and although, I spent 3 days taking non stop, it wasn't very productive.

I think its a shame that these big annual or bi-annual events can't help and encourage more new ideas and diversity in our industry, helping promote good design and keeping a tradition of crafted signs.....unfortunately, its the bigger companies, and the digital market, that are today and tomorrows moneyspinners, and that's what needs to be pushed or is pushed and that is what dominated my time when I had a stand over 5 years ago. I remember a 3M rep saying the future was in white vinyl as everything would be printed!

I think there will always be a place for creative people to make good signage and not feel forced to compromise in the chase for big earnings.

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Post Tue May 27, 2003 6:35 pm

Brian said:

maybe there were lots of digital printers because half on the hall was the digital print show


It was just as bad the year before though when it wasn't the digital print show. I think they just tagged something on the name to try and make it sound more appealing.

I take your points about the cost of the stands and smaller exhibitors being discouraged by the outlay. However, that does not excuse the poor attitude of many of those who did exhibit. In fact, it makes it even more of a mystery why they bothered at all.

There is simply no excuse for not having basic items such as price lists available for a once a year national show which is planned so far in advance.

Additionally, if these companies are spending so much money on floor space, it would cost little extra to utilise that space by providing better service to their potential customers either in the form of samples or by staffing those stands with more knowledgeable people.

I'm referring here to comments in previous posts about stands with very little product range, poor knowledge of product and, in some cases , downright rudeness. Nothing personal against yourself Brian - Im sure you did a wonderful job. :D


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Post Tue May 27, 2003 6:53 pm

I am sure people like Spandex,B & P, Granthams etc make a fortune out of selling digital print machines. I don't think it's a case of them pushing something you don't want. I think your average sign maker is more intelligent than to be sold something he doesn't need. We get 10 times as many enquiries for Digital machines than we do Vinyl cutters.

A few years ago Roger @ Sign update organised a show at Sandown, there were plenty of smaller companies there as it was far cheaper to exhibit. If only a few more of you had turned up it could have been pretty good! :o
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Post Tue May 27, 2003 9:03 pm

Point taken about part of the show being part digital.

If the show hadn`t been "combined" I doubt there would have been a show at all. The hall would have been close to empty of manufacturers.

Come on NEC/Organisers. If you lower the stand charges, more manufacturers will attend, and you`ll get more visitors, who will have to pay £6 to park, £1.50 for a cup of tea and £5 for a sandwich. It`s not rocket science....
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Post Wed May 28, 2003 1:46 am

I can't see the NEC or exhibition companies reducing their rates. I'm sure most of the big companies attend as a counter measure to competitors activity so that's money in the bank as far as the organisers are concerned. Will exhibitions become a thing of the past? A few big names drop out of the Motor show and others follow, will the same happen for Sign UK?
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Post Wed May 28, 2003 7:39 am

I didn't know about the show at Sandown but it seems to me that there is an opportunity for someone to arrange something similar.

A small show at a less high profile (i.e. cheaper) centrally located venue, aimed at the smaller business. If those taking part put some real thought into their stands I am sure it would be worthwhile and with the wider spread use of the internet in recent times, publicity should not be a problem.

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Post Wed May 28, 2003 8:31 am

Right here's the perfect opportunity for those disgruntled with Sign UK, why not attend the Letterheads meet in Ireland 8/9/10th August, its being held in the Signwriting College in Cork, plenty of exhibitors from the smaller companies and the chance to chat and have a pint or 12 with some of the most talented Signmakers from all over the world, now I wait for the comments "Oh its only for signwriters that still paint" etc. etc. Yes there are a lot of painters and carvers and glass people and gilders and guess what people that use digital and vinyl too (Shock Horror Gasp !!! :lol: ) people like Paul Rafferty will be there and he's predominately vinyl, and you've seen his work here, ok its a bit more expensive than going to sign uk (no caps lower case is all it deserves :lol: ) but at least it will get you away from work/family for the weekend, I went to last years and learned a hell of a lot in 2 days and made some friends too.
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Post Wed May 28, 2003 12:27 pm

Steve is it really more expensive than sign UK ? What did you learn from your last visit to sign UK, probably that lots of people were selling expensive kit you couldn't afford. If you compare this with what you learnt at the Letterheads meet and what you learnt and have been able to use in your own business then Letterheads was probably cheaper.
Having seen some of the guilding work you have done and knowing what you can probably charge for it I for one would rather learn more about this than the next generation digi printer I cant afford anyway. I probably wont be able to attend the Letterheads meet because I just cant afford it at the moment but if I could I am sure I would be there.
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Post Wed May 28, 2003 12:35 pm

Martin, I wasn't complaining about the cost of attending a Letterhead meet, no its well worth the money, I was just saying to those that have never been, the last one cost me about £200 with entry, digs, travel and beer money, probably cost about £300 - 350 for the weekend in Ireland, but well worth it. You've been living amongst them jocks too long mate, I wasn't being tight fisted :lol: :lol:
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Post Wed May 28, 2003 3:39 pm

Hey Henry, thanks for posting the piccie, a VERY impressive display! looks as good as a bought one :wink:

Looks like a great show, and so very similar to shows we've had DownUnder in the past.

I confess that I do like going to them, but I get just as excited at a computer show, I guess it's all about having access to services and technology that is relevant to the small sign shop and affordable to use/buy.
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Post Fri May 30, 2003 1:52 am

Its seems absurd that Sign Uk seem to be overlooking us guys
Like most I attend just so I'm kept updated of the latest
I couldn't make it this year owing to wife falling ill but by the sounds of it I didn't miss much

I don't think too many of us were aware of the Sandown affair arranged by Sign Up Date. Is that likely a possibility in the future given the awful result of NEC

Its clear from the comments in this thread that the small signmakers needs are not being met by the big fellows

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