First Impressions with Lasting Impact
FASTSIGNS of Cincinnati, OH-Colerain serves clients, community
The first thing a customer should see when entering a business is a design that gets their attention; a sign that identifies and promotes at the same time. First impressions are extremely important and can make a lasting impact.
In March 2019, Jeff Scroggie formed his company, J&S Graphics, LLC. After much research, he found and purchased a franchise business. It was in a section of town that his wife’s family had lived and he knew as well. It seemed like a good opportunity as it was well established with some good repeat customers. He decided to continue to use the name that the previous owners, Jim and Chris Brown of JVB Signs, LLC, had been doing business as, FASTSIGNS of Cincinnati, OH–Colerain (FASTSIGNS). Jeff was able to keep most of the employees, only having to hire a new customer service representative.
The company produces dozens of graphic design products, each one customized to suit the customers’ ideas and goals. The main emphasis is on the importance of aesthetics for making first impressions.
Jeff’s team understands that the right graphic design will promote a company while potentially making a lasting impression. Everything—from decals placed on items produced elsewhere to exterior signs so large that a crane and special installation experts are used to place them—is designed in-house.
Jeff and his team pride themselves on their responsiveness to the customers’ needs. Chelsea Luke, Customer Service Representative/Sales, either initiates or receives the first contact. Senior Graphic Designer Ben Kitzler works with the client to determine the message, design and budget, and Production Manager Adam Trissell takes those ideas and creates the work of art that becomes the final project. During times of high demand, usually in the fall and spring, they will add design and installation staff. Marcus Reed, a Design Intern, frequently helps out the team. However, Jeff emphasizes that they work as a team by cross-training everyone to be able to help each other with different aspects of a project or to cover absences.
In the company break room is a Goal Board. On it is written not only sales goals, but also team goals, such as how to reduce cost to offer better value to customers while still creating profit and increasing business. Cleanliness is promoted in the production area, not only for safety, but to create a space that is tour ready. They have a vision of a production area that will make people feel creatively inspired. In addition, one can find corrective/preventative action forms for everyone on the team to use. Jeff says, “We strive to create a culture of positive interaction that allows for errors. It is not a mistake as long as it can be corrected and you learn from it.”
A Dedicated Team
Jeff worked in the automotive industry for 18 years, in a variety of areas such as quality assurance, production control, purchasing and manufacturing supervision. He also spent 11 years in the aerospace industry working with braking and landing gear systems for a French conglomerate. This allowed him to see and experience many different processes, technologies and cultures. A three-year stay in the printing industry in the 1990s made the move to FASTSIGNS a logical transition.
When it comes to favorite projects, Jeff likes complex signage that has a high visual impact, such as channel letters that normally have LED lighting integral to the design. Today, FASTSIGNS uses LED technology almost exclusively. Jeff recently attended an international FASTSIGNS conference in Arizona where he was able to explore new ideas and design advances. The show also explored management/job control systems he intends to integrate into the company’s existing systems to improve processes. He was also able to meet partners and subcontractors who supply different materials with which to make signs or items, such as towels or mugs on which company messages can be placed.
Chelsea Luke is usually the first person from the company who people interact with when contacting FASTSIGNS, whether by phone, email or website. Although fairly new with the company, she is responsible for arranging project details from initial consultation to final install. She creates an estimate based on material, design and size. This can range from simple yard signs to elaborate projects that take months to complete. Coming from a mostly sales and residential construction background, she has a wide range of knowledge and is able to guide clients toward their specific needs.
Ben Kitzler has been with the company since October 2016. He was educated at Bowling Green State University in Ohio where he earned his Bachelor of Science degree in Technology, majoring in Visual Communication Technology. He credits the mentoring he received once hired by FASTSIGNS for helping him become a better graphic designer for company signs. For him, the difference between the theory one learns at college and the reality of the workplace was very distinct. He realized he needed to become part engineer, part electrician and part carpenter to excel. His favorite project is the sign he made as a test piece early in his career. It is an anvil within a shield design, a technically complex 3D high-density urethane (HDU) carving. It currently hangs above his father’s blacksmith shop.
Ben’s most memorable commercial project was for a rental corporation, Deer Hill Apartments of Cincinnati. It was one of the first freestanding signs he designed at FASTSIGNS. The rustic looking sign is 10 feet wide and 5 feet tall with a custom lighting feature that allows it to be seen any time of the day or night. Made of expanded polystyrene foam (EPS), it appears to be carved of wood and mounted on faux stone pillars, blending beautifully with the surrounding foliage. This creates an aesthetically pleasing sign that both identifies and promotes the business.
Adam Trissell started work at FASTSIGNS in Dayton over 15 years ago, relocating to FASTSIGNS of Cincinnati, OH-Colerain in 2016. He says he loves coming to work because every day is different. “I enjoy taking the graphics from a designer and making them a reality,” he says. He likes that everything is custom. Production is his main area of expertise, but he also makes designs with foam and vinyl. He does some interior installations, as well as exterior ones that do not require the use of a crane.
Adam explains that all projects must highlight the clients’ visions. “Sometimes it takes a little longer because nothing is a stock item.” he says. “It is a unique blend of art and marketing.” His personal favorite project was putting graphic decals on the flight simulators at the Wright-Patterson Air Force Base near Dayton. Locally, at a Kid Works Creative Learning Center, he created a 10-foot sign for which he carved out letters in plastic foam, creating a unique and impressive 3D look. In his spare time, he likes to drive around the area pointing out signs he made to his family and friends.
Loving the Cincinnati Community
Like any company, everyone has different passions when it comes to helping the community. Jeff is very involved in youth sports, donating signs to many events, as well as his time for coaching. He also creates signs for individual fundraisers such as Get The Man A Van!, which raised enough to purchase a van for a local disabled man so he could continue to work and be self-sufficient. Adam Trissell enjoys helping his wife, a physical therapist, support the Cincinnati Children’s Hospital-Heart Institute, especially the annual Recess in the Stadium event held at the Cincinnati Bengals Paul Brown Stadium. Ben Kitzler, on the other hand, is focused on raptors/ birds of prey. He has been active in raptor conservation since he was 5 years old, tagging along with his parents who helped establish a raptor rehabilitation center in Van Buren, Ohio. Currently, he is active with RAPTOR, Inc. of Milford, where he transports injured birds from the wild to the center for rehabilitation. He also volunteers with Hueston Woods State Park Nature Center where he cares for the raptors, mammals and reptiles who reside there. He finds it very rewarding to work with these amazing birds because “They are beautiful, but dangerous,” Kitzler says.
Chelsea Luke and her husband, John, are part of a church named Community Family Church that is very involved in the community. The church has an outreach program named CFC4 Outreach that helps the homeless in the community with shelter, food and clothing. Community Family Church also hosts an annual back-to-school event where backpacks are filled with school supplies and given to children for their upcoming school year. The church also hosts a multitude of holiday charity events.
Focus on the Future
FASTSIGNS of Cincinnati, OH-Colerain joined The Blue Book Network in November 2019. Jeff recently attended a Blue Book networking event and using Blue Book’s online tools has allowed his firm to bid on a number of large commercial projects. The company’s goal is to grow 10-15% annually for the next five years, then reevaluate its financial position and hopefully increase design, manufacturing and sales staff. As one cohesive team, FASTSIGNS of Cincinnati, OH-Colerain is focused on current projects, but looking forward to using new technology to grow, while serving its community and clients.