Eric Vessels: Hi, it’s Eric Vessels with WhatTheyThink and I’m here with Catherine Monson who is Chief Executive Officer of FASTSIGNS.
Catherine Monson: It’s great to be here. Thank you.
Eric Vessels: Well we’re here at SGIA in Las Vegas at the show and I was just curious, number one, to kind of get your perspective on why you come to shows like this, what you’re looking for – and I understand you have a team here that’s sort of browsing new technologies and trying to come away with something.
Catherine Monson: Absolutely. We’re here at SGIA for two reasons. Certainly it’s to stay on top of technology and I’ve got a team of a dozen people here that are visiting with vendors, looking under the hood of different pieces of equipment and developing relationships. One of the values that we bring to our franchise partners is lower equipment costs and so we’re also negotiating prices on supplies, equipment, maintenance contracts and things like that. So really there’s that whole group here – what’s new in the industry and what can we bring to our franchise partners. And then the second reason that we’re here is we are actively recruiting for conversion candidates. We have an active conversion program. In the last two years we’ve converted 30 independent sign shop owners to the FASTSIGNS brand and SGIA has been a major lead generation source for us. So we’ve got a booth down there. We’ve got a bunch of our franchise development folks that are working it and we have a great value proposition. So if you’re an independent sign shop and you want to help grow your business, if you want to have help in technology and purchasing, in procedures, in systems, employee management, business management and most important marketing FASTSIGNS can help. So what we bring is a powerful brand. We’re on TV; we’re on CNN, MSNBC, Fox News consistently with our message. We have great web presence, great web traffic, the highest in our industry and it’s a really great way to take your sign business to the next level.
Eric Vessels: That’s great. So you’re here as attendees looking at technology and an exhibitor looking to expand your business as well. That’s awesome. Well, I wonder if you could tell us a little bit – it’s early, we’re here early in the show – what you’re seeing so far. Are you picking up on some trends that are down there specifically related to wide format and inkjet?
Catherine Monson: Absolutely. You know certainly we appreciate increased speeds and feeds, it’s very important so that we can be more productive. Always looking at interesting finishing techniques and there’s lots of good finishing equipment down there. Because we can provide so much more value if we can finish the piece in an unusual and unique manner so that we’re bringing – as opposed to just competing in a commodity space it’s all about price but bringing more value by finishing. We’re really excited about looking at new textile technologies. We think that that’s going to be a really big and important factor for us going forward in the future, less competition, some more interesting things you can do with soft signage. A couple of years ago I was in Europe at FESPA and it was interesting to see – Europe has had more of a green focus than the U.S. has. Part of that might be is that their gasoline or their petrol runs five times the price that ours does. They’re really focused on that and soft signage, fabric signage, was really ubiquitous in Europe and you don’t see much of that here yet. And so we really think that that’s going to happen. We’re also looking at some new films and substrates that are more green, more friendly to the Earth and certainly looking at latex and UV technologies, flatbed cutting – so lots of exciting things. They’re more iterative as opposed to revolutionary but very important iterative changes.
Eric Vessels: Great. And that’s why you’re here to keep up with all the tiny changes year in and year out, right?
Catherine Monson: Absolutely.
Eric Vessels: Well Catherine, thanks a lot for speaking with us and have a great show.
Catherine Monson: Well thank you so much. It’s a pleasure being here. Thanks, Eric.