FASTSIGNS Stays Ahead of the Times—and the Competition—with Help from HP

In 1985, two young Texas entrepreneurs saw an opportunity. Gary Salomon and Bob Schanbaum noticed a small sign-making business in Austin using computers instead of the laborious, painstaking processes the craft had relied on for decades.

Neither knew much about making signs. Salomon was involved in direct-mail advertising and Schanbaum owned a chain of shoe repair stores, but the pair envisioned that technology could be used to revolutionize the sign business.

They put their model into action when they opened their first FASTSIGNS store in Dallas in 1985. Since then, FASTSIGNS International (Booth 3957) has grown into a multinational corporation with more than 530 franchise locations in seven countries. While the size of the company has changed, its dedication to innovation still prevails.

“We’re all about solving our customers’ business challenges,” says Michael Prewitt, Manager of New Technology for FASTSIGNS. “To do that, we need equipment that solves different needs and can produce a wide variety of sign and graphics products.”

A long-standing partnership with HP (Booth 1227) has allowed FASTSIGNS to meet those demands using tools like the HP Designjet L26500 printer to stay at the technological forefront of the fiercely competitive, multi-billion-dollar sign and graphics industry.


Cutting-edge collaboration

For years, the innovative spirit of both companies has been intertwined. FASTSIGNS frequently tests new HP technology well before market availability in a partnership that allows the companies to enhance and refine their products and services.

“Our ability to test the HP Designjet L26500 Printer ahead of market allows our franchise partners to be more competitive by implementing new technology faster than their competitors,” FASTSIGNS CEO Catherine Monson says. “We see whole new avenues of opportunity for our franchise partners.”

Versatility is critical in an industry where every order is customized. Evidence of the HP Designjet L26500 Printer’s ability to help meet that challenge can be found at The Beach— the employee lunchroom in the FASTSIGNS headquarters.

The large, windowless dining area had long been nondescript. To inject interest into the room, Prewitt turned to the HP Designjet L26500 Printer, HP Latex Inks, and HP PVC-free Wall Paper to make a massive mural depicting a pristine beach scene. “[Now] we can look out and see the waves and the blue sky,” Prewitt says. “It’s a nice break from being in the office all day.”

FASTSIGNS already relied on the HP Designjet L25500 printer to meet its output demands before witnessing first-hand the enhanced and expanded capabilities of its successor. “The quality of the HP Designjet L26500 Printer is everything we expect,” Prewitt says. “All the things that we look for—quality, color gamut, smoothness of gradations—it does all of those things very well.”

The HP Designjet L26500 printer offers the increased efficiency that is critical in a business where a company is judged not only by the quality of its products—but also by how quickly jobs can be produced. “We are called ‘FASTSIGNS’ for a reason,” Prewitt says. “That’s one of the things this printer can help us with. It can help us get work completed and out the door faster.”

With the help of HP products such as the HP Designjet L26500 Printer spearheading FASTSIGNS’ effort to be the innovative benchmark for its industry, Monson is confident that the company will continue to increase profits while expanding its brand. “We see a lot of growth ahead of us,” Monson says, “and we know that HP is going to be a great partner in that growth.”