Martin Sign Roland

Silicon Valley Shop Grows Quickly with Flatbed Technology

Ginny Mumm is a freelance writer based in Southern California.

Since its beginnings in 2012, Martin Sign Company has been making a name for itself in the crowded Silicon Valley marketplace with innovative, quality production for high-profile clients like Instacart, Malwarebytes, App Dynamics, Jones Lang LaSalle, and Outside Lands.

Located in San Francisco, Calif., the boutique shop was founded by Martin Wall and his business partner, Matt Cello, both of whom have art degrees. Though Martin Sign works with restaurants, offices and companies of all sizes, they especially enjoy teaming with graphic designers, architects, interior designers, and contractors.  “We have that design connection,” Wall says. “We like to be in on the ground floor to help create a successful sign program.”

As part of their commitment to unique, high-quality production, early on Martin Sign purchased a Roland LEJ-640FT UV flatbed printer. “This was our first flatbed, and since we were very small at the time, cost was certainly a factor, but quality was our top consideration,” Wall says.

A full-service shop, Martin Sign’s nine staff members operate out of a 9,000-square-foot facility. They produce banners, sidewalk signs, real estate signs, wall and window coverings, traffic signs, menu boards, ADA signs, privacy film and vehicle graphics.

Acquiring a wide range of production equipment including a roll-to-roll printer, a flatbed, and a CNC cutter has been critical for the company’s growth. Wall notes that with the capabilities they have in-house, the shop can produce large volume and tight turnaround jobs. “Having a UV flatbed has cut down on our production time and allows us to be more competitive in our pricing as well,” Wall says.

While some clients need only a few signs, Martin Sign Company is often called on for large production runs, like when they were selected as the sign printer for the 2016 Outside Lands Music and Arts Festival (OSL) held in Golden Park. “The flatbed was critical in allowing us to compete for and complete the OSL job successfully,” Wall says.

For Outside Lands, Martin Sign Company printed over 4,000 signs, including large format banners, menu boards, vendor booth signs, wayfinding signs, floor graphics, vinyl graphics, mesh banners and more.  The job required printing over 300 sheets of Coroplast, which meant their LEJ-FT ran nonstop. “We were doing 30-40 sheets of Coroplast a day. It was actually really fun to put that machine through its paces,” Wall says.

Martin Sign’s location in Silicon Valley means many of their clients are technology companies. “There is a lot of VC money out here, and tech companies compete for talent.  They use colorful graphics to make their campus a fun place to work, and they call us to make that happen for them,” Wall says. As a corollary to tech growth, Martin Signs also sees a lot of work from construction companies.

Martin Sign Company enjoys finding innovative solutions to “typical” sign requests. For instance, a rock climbing gym with nine facilities on the West Coast employs colorful artwork in its menu boards. Each location has a unique look, including one that required printing on stained wood. Martin Sign used its Roland UV flatbed printer to direct-print the imagery on the wood with the wood grain showing through slightly. For more saturated parts of the menu, they added white to the print so the text became more opaque. The technique has become popular with Martin Sign’s clients who want an old fashioned look without the costs of hand painting.

This year Martin Signs is launching a new website with more video and a web-to-print component which will allow companies to order and purchase signs at any time of day. “We can offer web-to-print because we have invested in the right printers and the right finishing equipment to turn things around quickly for our clients, no matter where they are in the world,” Wall says.