3M Graphic removal reminder

When you’re estimating how much time you’ll spend on a graphic film project, you likely think about the installation characteristics of the film and the size of the area to be covered. But many times, your job doesn’t end there. What happens at the end of the film’s life, when your customer is ready to change it? Consider these tips to make the graphic removal process smoother and more efficient:

Read more here http://tinyurl.com/p7a2qx8

3M Graphic removal reminder

Direct importing, is it really worth it?

The wide format industry is becoming increasingly competitive on many levels these days.

More aggressive marketing from the Chinese and Korean manufacturers is tempting more end users to give them a try. Buyers it seems are prepared to take a risk if it means bigger profit margins for their efforts.

There is no doubt either that it is making it harder for the major brands and local wholesalers as they try and claw back their own margins with the weaker Australian dollar.

It seems every price rise makes the gamble of buying direct from China a more acceptable risk.

With a 10 roll minimum, several smaller shops have already contacted me to suggest that it might be time to look at a buying group and take advantage of the deals being offered from the Chinese, cutting out the wholesaler.

I must confess it has crossed my mind too.

To be honest, given my higher profile in the industry, I get contacted weekly from overseas manufacturers encouraging me to come onboard with a whole range of products. My involvement with the Australasian Professional Vehicle Wrapping Association only encourages these overseas groups to target me more. The phrase ‘made to an Avery standard’ or ‘better than 3M’ feature prominently in their sales spiels. They clearly know the brands they have to beat.

For the record, I did pursue the concept to the point of doing the math and buying samples. I found that some manufacturers offering me deals are already supplying some of our national wholesalers in Australia.

I discovered my landed price per roll was half the price of a single roll bought from those same wholesalers. But, to be fair, if I was to buy 10 rolls of the same product from the Australian wholesaler as my Chinese friends insist, the savings were not nearly as attractive and you’d have to ask whether it was honestly worth the trouble. There were savings nonetheless.

I approached a rep from one of the wholesalers concerned and he told me that their product was produced with a kraft liner and was a manufactured especially for them. So, he said, what I’d buy from China from the same manufacturer would in fact be inferior due to their product having a better liner.

It was a fair point.

I went back to the Chinese and suggested I’d prefer a Kraft liner instead of the liner they used. Within days I had an email claiming they now do a kraft liner for all overseas orders as a standard supply. No extra charge.

Since then, I’ve had emails telling me their product is now using a bubble free adhesive, is now using a grey block out adhesive and the last email tells me it is HP approved for Latex printers.

So, for the sake of the exercise, I got a quote on 10 rolls to be sent to Australia.

The fine print was an interesting read. First and foremost, you can’t mix rolls. It is a minimum of 10 rolls of each item. Also, there is no Australian warranty at the prices they were offering. If I wanted to make a claim on a defect, I had to ship the product back to china at my own expense and they would do the appropriate tests to see if I had a claim. If they deemed my claim as warranted, they would credit me on my next order. Freight and any other costs would not be reimbursed.

Can anyone else hear any alarm bells ringing about now?

I was speaking to a gentleman a while ago who was enticed to buy a small order from china and he told me something that I have since been told is well known in importing circles.

He purchased a couple of small orders, several times a year. He got very little complaints with the product he was buying and was gradually pressured by his Chinese suppliers to take the risk and buy larger quantities less times a year. The discounts they offered seemed too good to be true. After a while he decided to ‘go for it’. Long story short, over time he had more dud material than he had good material. Any savings he’d made in the larger buy was eroded by the bad stock he had to buy back from his clients. It eventually ruined his reputation and he closed his doors.

I’ve heard similar stories from individuals that buy their own inks, film and even machinery. Importers tell me it’s not uncommon for some less reputable Chinese exporters to slip in a few duds knowing you’d probably not bother claiming back the stock, given the expense of making a claim under their terms and conditions.

For the record, I’m not saying that all Chinese suppliers are rip offs, but unless you have a good relationship with them, how would you know? You also need good negotiating skills, or be prepared to pay a professional who does the negotiations for you. That can also be expensive.

I have a client that is a buyer for one of Australia’s leading electrical tool suppliers. The company he represents send their buyers and engineers over to China and inspect every shipment before they leave China. They leave nothing to chance.

Another client imports gift lines. He also goes to china and inspects every shipment as it’s loaded. It is a common theme among importers that I’ve spoken to.

I heard of one Australian company a few years ago that purchased a shipping container full of banner material only to find the stock was unsaleable. It was nothing like the sample they signed off on.

There are lots of horror stories out there, but I also know of a few bigger sign shops that do import their own inks and materials without any hassles whatsoever.  There are some good Chinese exporters without a doubt.

So after all my costings and calculations, do I think it is worth it? Is it really worth the savings?  No, I’m not really sure it is.

Personally, I think you are best to concentrate on your relationships with our established wholesalers here that have invested time and money on inventory already.

In recent years, the major brands have established a good solid network of suppliers.

3M have added Spicers to their already solid base of wholesalers like Australian Visual Solutions and Halifax Vogel Group.

BJ Ball is also now online for Mactac in Australia and making serious inroads into the wide format market here. CPI Group and Celmac also offer the range and are well established.

Ricky Richards are another smaller wholesaler quietly chipping away at the market with Grafiprint, easily one of the most under rated products out there.

Avery has also a well-established network with Graphic Art Mart, Conect Enterprises and Spandex.

Another supplier, Shann (Shanndpm) has a product called Mojave.

Hexis of course has Stickittome Australia and PT Stores.

I deal with most of these suppliers and I think it fair to say that if you show them the same loyalty you expect from them, then everyone will be happy.

I don’t see the need to risk ‘everything’ just to find a small saving here and there.

From my own research, I think if you’d to go to any one of the suppliers mentioned above and buy 10 rolls in an order, their price will make dealing directly with china and its associated risks hardly worth it.

The alternative is to pay in advance to the Chinese suppliers then and wait 6 weeks for the supply to arrive. And seriously, if you are prepared to pay in advance to a stranger in China, offer to pay in advance to an Australian supplier and I’m prepared to hazard a guess that they will treat you ‘special’ every time you call. You’ll definitely be on their Christmas card list for the foreseeable future.

In reality, no one wants to pay more than we have to, especially in what is becoming an increasingly competitive market. But it isn’t it better to have the backing of an Australian wholesaler when we hit a snag than rely on an Asian supplier with no loyalty to us or our business whatsoever? For the little extra we pay, surely the support we get from our suppliers, not to mention supporting Australian jobs and industry, is more important in the overall scheme of things.

I don’t know about you, but every job I lose to an overseas producer is just one more nail in the coffin of our local industry. The same applies to our wholesale industry. Without them, our industry would be at the mercy of some pretty big players and I’m not really sure that we want to go there.

Direct importing, is it really worth it?

Warning of a scam

It has been drawn to our attention by a number of our subscribers that a scam is targeting the wrap industry and its members.

You need to keep an eye out for one that has been reported by a few, from ‘Bruce’, who uses the address bruceballick1789(at)gmail.com.

Craig McConchie from Canberra has forwarded the email he received. He introduces himself by saying he is hearing impaired and can only communicate by email.

Attn: Owner / Service Manger


This is Bruce Ballick, i have just bought a Mack Truck on the auction, the truck has no insurance yet and i will like to have some graphics design on the truck, i need a good expert to make design on the truck. I will like you to get back to me if you can help me do the graphics and most importantly do you accept credit card for payment

Thanks Bruce


APVWA subscribers from Sydney and Melbourne have also received the email. Stewart Hennessy, another recipient of the email has posted excellent advice on entering into a discussion with this guy. 

Stewart suggests “Don’t reply because then they potentially get the rest of your business details from your signature and may fraudulently use to your detriment.”

These scam artists work the numbers game. Don’t be the one to get caught. He wants you to take a credit card transaction for a larger amount than your quote, then he wants you to pay a bill for him with the extra amount to a tow truck for cash. That should ring some bells anyway, but in case it doesn’t, we are just letting you know the transaction is not what it appears to be.

If you hear of any other scams, please let us know. In the mean time, we’d suggest you give Bruce the big miss. 

Warning of a scam

Social Media – Good or Bad for our industry?

Social media has become well and truly entrenched in people’s lives these days, and the general computer user and more importantly businesses, have seen the popularity grow from its nerdy-ness into the phenomenon it is today.

Understandably many business owners of all sizes have ‘jumped on the social media bandwagon’ with a business Facebook page, which is now generally accepted as almost as important as a web page address.

The popularity is hard to ignore. One Australian State Government, Queensland, has dedicated a full web page encouraging its benefits.

The Queensland government has acknowledged Facebook’s low cost marketing strategy as a key component for SME’s, making the point that “marketing activities that would cost thousands of dollars through other channels can be used on Facebook for a fraction of the cost.” That is certainly true.

Another key component that Facebook addresses and the most SME’s would normally find difficult to afford is that Facebook “can increase your business’s profile by encouraging existing and potential customers to click the ‘Like’ button on your Facebook page. Once they like your page, your customers will receive your updates on their wall, where their friends will also see them. This helps to build awareness of your business, and to associate your friends with your brand. Customers can also post positive messages about your products or services, shared on their walls for all their friends to see.”

You can increase your business’s profile on Facebook by encouraging existing and potential customers to click the ‘Like’ button on your Facebook page. Once they like your page, your customers will receive your updates on their wall, where their friends will also see them. This helps to build awareness of your business, and to associate your friends with your brand. Customers can also post positive messages about your products or services, shared on their walls for all their friends to see.

Online newsletters like GIGAOM are full of advice in making Facebook a positive experience for all business. But the one thing that is blatantly clear is that it is just a modern form of an old idea – Business Networking

Networking is simple concept but, when if it is done well, pays dividends in the medium to long term. A good salesperson becomes a better salesperson as they improve on their networking skills.  Add good communication skills, and sales become easier and more consistent. Of course a key component to communication is also trust. Trust is earned of course, so a good network isn’t something that happens overnight.

Therein lays the achilles heel of social media.

As good as Facebook is, the one thing it has a poor record in is conveying trust. Why? Because Facebook makes it so much easier to be deceptive. There is plenty of evidence with various reports and scams that pop up from time to time.

It has generally become a good tool though for our industry. It lets businesses interact with their peers easier, lets us share ideas, enables us to see the progress of others and the jobs they do. It gives us ideas, if they are shared, and it shows potential clients what we can do and what we specialize in.

Various niche markets are already well developed, and Facebook showcases that really well.

One area of concern that is raising its ugly head though is those members in our industry that are developing Facebook pages critical of others in their application techniques, designs and failures. We are essentially seeing a ‘bully’ culture develop, and it’s not a good image for our industry members that participate in such negativity.

As our industry grows, our members grow at different rates. Our manufacturers have various levels of training, and for that they should be commended. The Australasian Professional Vehicle Wrapping Association is being formed to give some ownership and direction for those members who want to constantly improve and contribute to a more trustworthy profession and image.

Members of our industry are always learning, or should be, as like any profession new techniques are developed over time and materials are introduced that need new application techniques. No industry goes forward by stagnating, no matter who they are.

Participating in Facebook pages or forums that bully learners, or ostracize those with failures isn’t something that we should be proud of or participate in, and it is disappointing that some feel the need to do it.

One thing to remember is that unless we know the story behind the failures, we have no right to be critical. Let me give you three examples to consider.

Example 1.
Some time ago, my sign shop was supplied a new material from a well-known company. On paper it technically fitted the bill for the job at hand. When the time came to install the material we found it was difficult to lay and didn’t act as was expected, by either our installers or the supplier.

Eventually the job was finished and everyone was happy. Next day, we got a call to tell us the material was failing. We arranged to have a look and take photos. Yes it was pulling up from the edges and yes it was a mystery. We sent photos to the supplier for their comment. By the time it was sorted, several days had gone by. The supplier withdrew it from the market deeming it was clearly faulty stock. We went back and replaced the signage with another brand and all was sweet. But, if photos had been taken by the ‘bully’ sign shops and placed on their Facebook page, with no explanation about the problems we encountered, it would appear that we were totally incompetent.

As a lot of these bully groups are by invitation only, we wouldn’t have known, but it would have easily undermined trust for us in the industry, especially with those that knew it was our contract.

Example 2.
Our sign shop has had some long term contracts for many fleet vehicle owners. One year one of our regular clients informed us he was doing a 12 month promotion for a local tourism group. The tourism client insisted on using their own sign shop to do the signage as they had a good working relationship and had a contract with them to supply all signage. My client let me know that this job was going to another sign shop and the reasons for it.

When the job was done, the other sign shop must have used the cheapest material they could find. Within days it was tenting in the creases, pulling away from the edges and was clearly a poor job. We found out later that the job was given to the 2nd year apprentices as a ‘test’ of their ability. Photos started appearing pointing out the poor quality and failures.

How did it affect my business? People who knew I had the contract assumed I had done the job. Once again, if these had been picked up by these ‘bully’ sites and placed on their private Facebook pages, my name would be tarnished when I was totally innocent.

Example 3.
We were employed as contract fitters for a local company to fit their supplied signage. On arriving we found it was produced in China. There was no overlap on the large panels, it was un-laminated, and it was on a low grade material.

We expressed our concern that it would not be suitable for the intended purpose. The owner agreed and was sympathetic to our concerns, but as the shop was opening in 3 days, he asked that we ‘do our best’.

Under the circumstances, the job came up really well, but anyone doing the job professionally would have seen that it was a poor quality sign and ‘incorrectly’ finished. Once again, without viewers knowing the job history, it could easily be assumed by my peers that we did a poor job.

The ‘bully’ sites would have had a field day.

So although Facebook is a great tool for business, it can also be a good tool for the losers and bully’s that take delight in making fun of others without knowing the story behind the image.

So if we want to collectively make the industry a better one, then it would be better to help rather than hinder. There really is no place for a bully in any business. If we need to improve our application skills, do courses put on by one of the suppliers. If you admire someone’s work, tell them. Praise is always better than abuse.

End of the day, everyone started somewhere. Those laughing at the failures of others forget that they probably had the same failures when they started. We have some brilliant craftsmen and women in our industry, but the best craftsmen and women are those that help others improve, nurturing the next generation of applicators rather than those who pull others apart and destroying dreams.

Social Media – Good or Bad for our industry?

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Many of you may recall reports of  a wall collapsing on three pedestrians, killing teenage siblings Alexander and Bridget Jones, and Dr Marie-Faith Fiawoo from France last March, in Victoria.

In findings released today, WorkSafe Victoria found two companies responsible for the accident, laying 7 criminal charges in total.

Five charges have been leveled against the Grocon Building Company that owned the site, and 2 criminal charges against the sign company that manufactured and installed the advertising sign on the wall that collapsed.
News Ltd reports the response from the Grocon executives was “We don’t yet know the specific detail of what is being alleged against Grocon or the Melbourne signage company responsible for erecting the advertising sign on the wall, so we need to await further details and legal analysis before we can properly respond.” Mr Grollo said Grocon’s priority remained to assist authorities as they examine what contributed to the wall collapse and identify what needs to be done to ensure it never happens again.

“Our thoughts and sympathies are with the families who so tragically lost their loved ones,” he said.

Whilst this doesn’t directly affect the wrap industry, it does have consequences for the general sign industry.

Members associated with the wrap and sign industries need to make sure they are insured against the unexpected, don’t use unsafe work practices and follow their instinct if something doesn’t appear safe.

WorkSafe will hold you accountable. Make sure you are insured adequately.

On the thought of insurance, the APVWA has been making inquiries into the legalities of pulling new cars apart to wrap them and then reassemble them, with regard client new car warranties. It seems our calls have opened a tin of worms.

We contacted various automotive clubs, from the RACQ and NRMA, as well as the Office of Fair Trading and others. The car clubs wouldn’t advise us ‘officially’ as it was going to involve lengthy legal interpretation of the law, but most did draw a parallel with car repairers and mechanics. Most did point out though that the Car Manufacturer can still void warranty if they find evidence that the vehicle has been tampered with by an unlicensed repairer. That is the first gray area that was highlighted by just about everyone. Our industry doesn’t come under the banner of a licensed repairer.

We had a good reception from the Office of Fair Trade at a federal level. Their immediate response was that the warranty issue could be a difficult one for our members as the industry could be seen as a boutique style organisation. Accessorizing a car is common, but unless it is a factory authourised accessory, if an unauthorised accessory, or the installation of an unauthorised accessory damages the vehicle, then all warranties can be voided by the manufacturer if they see fit.

The strongest advice we got from the government department is to make sure our members were insured for vehicle damage before they did anything to a new vehicle under warranty. They stressed that insurance should standard anyway, but damaging a new vehicle that may void a clients warranty is going to be costly for the wrap company.

While wrap on a vehicle is straight forward to a professional, things can go wrong.

The Office of Fair Trading couldn’t offer any endorsed legal advice either, but did insist that we inform our members of the dangers and risks associated with vehicle repairs, modifications and alterations while a vehicle is under warranty.

Just like the signage company that installed the advertising sign on what appeared to be a perfectly stable wall, some things go awry and we need to be covered, no matter how obscure the risk could be.

From personal experience, we signed a 6 month old ‘new’ car recently, and found after the signage was fitted, it had to be replaced as it needed to be redesigned. On removing the signage, the paint came off the door.

I argued the paint was faulty, the dealer denied the claim. They argued that someone had the door repainted without their knowledge and we needed to make a claim against the painter. It was a nightmare, but the dealer still denies the claim. The new owner bought it as a dealer demonstrator, and has not had it resprayed. The dealer has no record of it being resprayed. It is easier to blame us it seems.

Fortunately I am insured.

Other suggestions have been to get the client to sign a waiver acknowledging the risk is theirs.

The advice we have had on that is; get the waiver written by a solicitor conversant in that area of the law. It isn’t an easy answer or fix sadly.

If anyone has had experience with this in the past, and has had legal advice, we’d love to hear it.


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On behalf of everyone associated with the APVWA, our thoughts are with our colleagues in FNQ who are in the firing line with the Cat 5 storm expected tomorrow.

For those about to experience this fury, please, keep safe. Take whatever precautions are required to keep you and your families out of harms way. Machines, stock, bricks and mortar can be repaired or replaced, but life is precious. 

History shows that this will probably impact on your livelihood in the short term, and we can only hope that your suppliers are supportive to your situation.

Please let us know how you fare in the aftermath if you can.

Again, our thoughts are with you during this time.

Take care

Your friends and colleagues,


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It has been drawn to our attention that vehicle colour change wraps are becoming an issue for the various State Vehicle Registration Authorities.

One of our associates in Queensland was pulled over by the Police recently and questioned over the colour of his vehicle.

The police were apparently doing a routine check on the Orange Metallic Ford Ranger registration plates, and found that the vehicle was actually registered as a Black vehicle, its manufactured colour. Having seen the vehicle in question, it is a real head turner, and no doubt got the attention of the authorities.

The Officers pulled the driver over and advised him that the colour didn’t match the registration. This is effectively a breach of the law. The officers pointed out that if the car was stolen and they had to look for it, they would be searching for a black vehicle, not an awesome looking orange one. It is a fair point.

Our own investigation has made us aware that if the authorities do a registration check and find a different plate registration to the vehicle description, it could be assumed that the plates have been stolen or switched for dishonest activity. Plate swapping is not an unusual activity among thieves, so it is understandably of concern to the various authorities.

Further investigation by the APVWA has found that all states have similar laws, but some requirements are different.

In Queensland for instance, the vehicle will have to be taken to a department of Transport and Main Roads Customer Service Centre for inspection. You can find the form here. However, in Victoria, you only need to notify VicRoads of a change of colour to the vehicle. No inspection is required and you can notify VicRoads by calling 13 11 71 (Mon – Fri 8.30am – 5pm, Sat 8.30am – 2pm).

Obviously each state has their own rules and regulations, and we encourage all members to make vehicle owners aware of their legal requirements in this regard.

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