A Day in the Life: Is a Career in Sign Installation Right for You?


A Day in the Life: Is a Career in Sign Installation Right for You?

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If you or someone you know is looking to begin a career, reenergize a languishing work life or get out from behind a desk and get more physical, the sign installation business is a challenging and rewarding opportunity. We recently talked with Brian Hunter, owner of True Install in Salt Lake City, to get insights into the sign installation business from someone in the know. Here’s what Brian told us:

Q: What are some of the types of projects that you do?

A: It is a wide range. One week we can be installing an experiential display that’s a custom-designed LED wall, or it could be a giant mural at a hotel. We’ve also installed graphics in a university’s locker room. Those are challenging and fun projects because you get into spaces that you wouldn’t normally be able to see. Plus, they always look amazing when we are finished.

Of course, on another day, we may be digging posts for signs next to a highway or affixing dimensional peel-and-stick lettering in a doctor’s office. So, it’s not always glamorous! But it is always hard work. And we approach every assignment with a professional mindset, knowing that large or small, simple or complex, we always do our best work for our customers and theirs. There is always satisfaction in a job well done.

Q: What is a typical day like for you?

A: I think you are already getting the picture that no two days are ever the same. What is consistent is that there is a ton of problem-solving. Often, we are presented with a challenge that had not been foreseen once we’re on a job site, and we figure it out. It’s not anyone’s fault. Sometimes, it’s just not possible to know how something will shape up until you get into it. Anyone who has had a tradesperson come over for an electrical or plumbing repair can probably relate. There are times when there’s more to an installation than immediately meets the eye.

While it might sound like a dirty and dusty business, we go to people’s offices and are in their workspaces, so we work ‘clean’ and never leave a trail of trash behind us.

Q: Why did you get into this business?

A: I wanted to be in charge of my destiny and transitioned to this business from an office job that involved a fair amount of travel. I mean sitting on airplanes. For health reasons, I needed to get away from sitting behind a desk and be more active. As the franchise owner, my role is multi-faceted. Like any business owner, I’m responsible for bookkeeping, sales, marketing, staffing and growing the business. It’s just what I wanted: to manage my destiny.

When you’re in the field as a sign installer, your office is a vehicle, and there is a lot of driving from job site to job site every day. On larger projects, we may be in the same location for two or three days. But more often than not, we’re moving from site to site.

Now that I’m not in the field as much and have a bigger team, we have regular weekly meetings in person and conference calls mid-week to go over some of the more complicated projects. It helps me to build a work culture with open lines of communication. More than half of the meetings are done in the field. I respect my team’s time, so I don’t ask them to come to me before they head to the job site. I go to them.

Q: What experience or skills developed in another industry or field translate well to sign installation?

A: A construction background would be great. We are on a lot of construction sites. Any type of mechanical or logistics background is also helpful. It really suits someone who can look at a plan on paper – sometimes with a lot of detail and sometimes with a little – and visualize what it should be. A couple of my installers come from the stage world. They are used to heavy lifting and are also familiar with a truck not showing up, so they have had to improvise.

A military background is also a great fit. Veterans are familiar with adapting to unforeseen circumstances and keeping a cool head. Working well with others is a great attribute, too. We spent a month on a job once, and if we had someone who was grumpy or negative, that wouldn’t have worked at all.

There is a place for sole proprietors and those who prefer to work alone. They, too, can be their own boss successfully, but there will be limitations to that approach. For field installers who prefer to work alone and like repetition and predictability, office lettering and other frequent small projects can be a niche for someone.

Q: What is most rewarding about the work that you do?

A: This is a dynamic industry with lots of opportunities for skill development and growth. My team is all OSHA trained and certified, and we have 3M certification in our sights. The 3M testing is rigorous, so we want to be well prepared. We also do online training, and on-the-job training starts on day one.

As the business owner, it’s rewarding for me to see the team evolve and grow. I’m focused on building a strong company culture where we talk about a training plan and goals as well as reinforce what we are building and how everyone fits into our future. Talking about the fun stuff we do is a highlight, too!  

If this sounds like the right fit for you, check out opportunities with True Install.

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