Transforming the Wraps Industry: Charitable wrap work

I have always been a firm believer in the theory that if you want something, you must first give something. I think where a lot of people go wrong with this is that they think it is a linear process, in that when we give to X so that we shall receive from X. But in fact, giving to X might just mean that you are depositing some credit in the Karma bank and that you will receive in ways you never expected.

So what does this have to do with signs, wraps and digital graphics? All of you who are in the graphics industry—no matter if it’s screen printing, paper printing, vinyl graphics or large-format printing—have the ability to give back. I have been doing this since I started my business. But most of my giving was to those who were trying to start a business and might not have had the capitol needed to wrap their vehicle, or for someone who was trying to get their kid involved in racing and had spent most of their money just getting started. I was always a softy for a real person with a real story and struggle. I like to help out the underdog because I feel in many ways I have been the underdog, and have had to overcome many obstacles to get to where I am and feel it necessary to pay it forward.

I have been interested in different ways to give back, but most people just want us to donate free wraps. For many shops, this is not feasible. When you have to account for every square foot of media going out the door because of the expense of doing business these days, it is not that easy to just let go of a free wrap on the hopes that you possibly will get business from it someday. 

So our way of giving back did not end up being vehicle wraps, and does not take much material at all. Some of you may know that I come from a background in auto racing and used to paint helmets prior to starting my wrap shop. Once I started the wrap shop, I took a shot at wrapping one of my own helmets. It came out pretty good and I started getting asked about helmet wraps at the tracks. I have since done helmets for a few NASCAR drivers, and we are currently working on one for Jeremy McGrath and Ricky Carmichael, for those of you who are into motorcycle racing. Since we had been doing helmet wraps, our name tends to come up on the searches when you look for “helmet wraps”.

Last June, I had a father of a small infant come into my shop and ask if we could wrap a helmet for his little baby. He said he found us on the Internet and that his baby had a small helmet that he has to wear 23 hours a day. His son has to wear this helmet to correct a flat spot on the soft side of his head for a condition called plagiocephaly. I have wrapped many helmets for racecar drivers over the years, but never for a baby. 

I said, “Why not,” and did it for him. After we wrapped his child’s helmet, he asked us what we were going to charge him to do this. I showed him some of our racecar helmets and explained to him that we charge between $350 and $1,000 to wrap a helmet for a racecar driver depending on the complexity of the design and install. The father educated me on the fact that the helmets cost $3,500 to $4,000 and that they are not covered by most insurance plans. I told him the helmet wrap was a gift, a little way that we can give back from our wrap shop. He was very appreciative and asked what he should tell other parents that wanted these done. I said tell them to give us a call. It started snowballing after that, I had no idea that 1 out of 50 children have the condition that could require them to wear one of these. So we have been doing this for 10 months now, and we have wrapped 208 of these helmets. We don’t charge the parents anything for the wrap, in fact most parents want to give us money and we will not accept it, we feel like if they pay for it then it will not be the same. 

I am proud to say that after 200-plus helmets, we have started to spread the program across the United States. There are at least six shops in the United States that I know of other than ours that are doing these for free. We have our own website, www.wrapbuddies.com and nonprofit that we call Wrap Buddies to support the program. Since we provide all of the services for the children free of charge to the parents, when we get a parent who wants to donate or their company wants to donate, we accept the donations to our new nonprofit. The money that we get from the donations is going to help us buy materials to do wrap projects in local children’s hospitals that they would not have regularly had the budgets to do. We have met with the Dallas Scottish Rite Hospital and will be starting on our first project in the next few months. We will be able to wrap walls, floors, medical equipment and anything else we can get vinyl to stick to.  

Ok, so now you’re asking yourself what does this have to do with your shop? Here’s the deal; I believe that you can go out knocking on doors soliciting business all day long, or you can spend your time like we do giving back to others and without a doubt the business will find you. We have been very blessed and our phones ring and quotes come in over our website every day now. The calls and quotes are not directly related to what we do for others in trying to give back a little bit of what we have been blessed with, but I like to think that what goes around comes around, good or bad.

So if you would like to start doing helmet wraps in your area, we can assist you with templates, designs, and some instruction on best way to do this. When I first started doing this, it took almost two hours per helmet, which was putting a serious hurting on my schedule because I am busy enough to begin with. We now have a well-oiled machine that allows us to schedule all the parents to come in on the same day, and we are able to wrap each helmet in about 10 minutes. Our last party was two weeks ago, and I think we did 18 baby helmets. This past week we had NASCAR in town at the Texas Motor Speedway and we were very blessed that two drivers supported the Wrap Buddies program by running a decal on their cars, and one driver, James Buescher, wore a special wrapped helmet in his NASCAR Nationwide Series race. 

Perhaps wrapping baby helmets isn’t for you, but I hope this article inspires you to find a way that you can give back by using your resources and your talents.