saving money can get expensive...

Discussion in 'Christmas Trees & Seasonal' started by David Gretzmier, Sep 9, 2009.

  1. David Gretzmier

    David Gretzmier LawnSite Gold Member
    Messages: 3,645

    Rainy day today so geting some office stuff done, and had to share yet another nugget of wisdom I have learned so you guys don't have to learn it the hard way. bear with me.

    Ok, I mentioned in another thread I was getting graphics done for a boxvan I bought used last year. This is an advertising dream, as it is 14 foot long, 8 feet high and along with that it is one of those swoopy aero vans made of fiberglass, so no rivets, which makes for an easy surface for vinyl graphics. I priced out getting this done locally, and was stunned, stunned I tell you at the prices I heard.

    1800 was the low end, and I heard 4000 bucks before I gave up. It really got under my skin that I had this done for 1200-1500 bucks, fully wrapped box van not more than 4 years ago. I would agree that is cheap today, except I was not asking for a full wrap. color, yes, large , yes, but no difficult around the corner work, and plenty of blank space and no hundreds of rivets to deal with like on my other van.

    So, as I mentioned in another thread, I ordered some 4 foot by 12 foot vinyl graphics off ebay. got 2 of them, shipped, for 370 bucks total. I paid my website company 100 bucks to do the design and was thrilled with the quality of both them and the way the vinyl was printed. Excellent. First piece of wisdom. Get a graphic designer involved for a small project and you will be pleased, and even though the graphics came from china, it was far and away the best quality printing I have on any of the trucks in my fleet. I knew then that I wanted to put the vinyl up high, put 3m silver reflective material as a background on the bottom 3 foot or so, and the rear door, and then do lettering over that.

    I went ahead and bought some blank 3m reflective vinyl rolls on ebay, and learned my second piece of wisdom. all 3m reflective is not created equal. diamond grade, engineer grade, 650, 850, etc. The important thing : you want 3m scotchbright 680. everything else is silver paint. I know that now. I have 680 on the back, but 3m engineer grade on the sides of the van. Total in for reflective material with shipping, 300 bucks. Ouch.

    3, I have also learned that putting on vinyl is like steak. You may get what you pay for, but how it is done makes all the difference. My current employee said he could do this. On the reflective, he did good, and that cost me 100 bucks. After paying him 50 of the 200 bucks promised, watching him completely wrinkle and stretch the passenger side, I took it to a sign guy I found on Craigslist. Next piece of wisdom that I already dispensed to someone on another thread- This is dumb, and you better be desperate to hire someone from Craigslist. I’ll be honest, I was desperate. And I will say this- I may be wrong about Craigslist.

    So- the sign guy does an awesome job fixing the side that was wrinkled and bubbled, I’d say it looks great from 10 feet and further. Closer in you can see the smoothed over spots. The side he did is perfect except for one area in the middle top, and around the bottom right edges that were damaged by my employee when he used the graphics on the tube that had not been installed to pull the the graphics off on the first redo. So I am out 70 bucks more to pay him to fix one side and put up another. He quoted me 200 bucks to do all the lettering I want on all 4 sides. I’m in.

    So my total, If I am adding all this up, is 370+100+300+100+50+70+200 or 1190 bucks, and I am done with a van that looks pretty good. Not great, but pretty good. Anyone who likes really nice graphics, will notice. The other 95% of folks will hire me.

    We’ll see how long this lasts, but in the end I think the longevity of this project is probably 3-5 years at the max.

    So my next project is the 14 foot box van that is aluminum and full of rivets everywhere. My plan on that one is to so a full color banner rather than vinyl and stretch it tight using a wood frame that I will build on all 4 sides. I’ve seen this done before so it can’t be that hard, right? Ain’t it funny to watch dave try to reinvent the wheel?
  2. TexasFire221

    TexasFire221 LawnSite Senior Member
    from Texas
    Messages: 480

    So Dave, do we get to see a picture?
  3. addictedtolandscaping

    addictedtolandscaping LawnSite Senior Member
    from NY
    Messages: 569

    Your 14" van, it sounds like removable media. The company that will be installing the graphics on my truck mentioned this for my 14" enclosed trailer. The guy I talked to on the phone tells me that it is cheaper than lettering a truck.

    Since we have all seen how "cheap" everything I buy here is, should be interesting to see what it holds.
  4. cmturner

    cmturner LawnSite Member
    Messages: 37

    Hey David if you build a wooden frame like that you could have a billboard type sign made to fit it. Then you could change your signage without much trouble.
  5. David Gretzmier

    David Gretzmier LawnSite Gold Member
    Messages: 3,645

    I got a quote today on 2 full color, 1440dpi ( very high resolution ) 19 ounce vinyl banner that will fill the boxvan sides at 7 foot tall and 14 foot long, 280 bucks total for both sides shipped to me. after that, I plan to use aluminum angle iron to secure it to the truck on the front and top, then use aluminum angle iron to tighten it both ways to get it tight as a drum. hopefully this will work, and not cost me 1200 bucks like the other box van. i will probably just do simple dark lettering on the back, around 100 bucks or so.

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