Park 'n' Ride buses easier to identify thanks to AAA Sign Crafters.
By Jake Widman
One of Hank Cobb’s favorite things about the vehicle-wrap business is seeing his work on the street. “I love seeing my stuff driving around. It’s a great feeling,” he says.
What Cobb – with AAA Sign Crafters (www.aaasigncrafters.com) – has been seeing most recently are the Park ‘n’ Ride buses (the shuttles from remote parking) at the new international terminal at Atlanta’s Hartsfield-Jackson Airport. The bus operator, Standard Parking, needed wraps to identify the buses, and “they contacted me and asked me to quote the job,” says Cobb. “I went down and won the bid.” To date, AAA Sign Crafters has wrapped more than 30 of the shuttle buses.
Cobb uses Avery Dennison MPI 1005 Supercast Series vinyl and Avery DOL 1360 overlaminate on the buses, installing the printed vinyl on the sides and rear of the buses. But some of them take more work: “The first 17 vehicles were new ones,” Cobb says. “The last 17, though, were refurbs. We’ve been taking the buses from domestic parking, stripping all the domestic stuff off, cleaning the vehicles, and then putting the new international stuff on until they get their new buses in.” Cobb can do some of the work at his shop – “I have a building 40 feet wide by 100 feet long, so I can get quite a few vehicles in there,” he says – but most of the stripping and cleaning gets done at the airport.
Cobb credits jobs like this with saving his business, which he and his brother Ty founded in 1971. “We were basically a mom-and-pop hand-painted sign shop,” he recalls. They stayed that way for the next 35 years or so, focusing on signs for the building industry. But the collapse of that industry in the Southeast in the late 2000s forced the Cobbs to find a new line of work – vehicle wraps.
AAA Sign Crafters already had one vehicle customer, National Bus Sales in Marietta, Georgia. “They’d been a customer of mine for 30 years,” says Cobb. “We would produce cut-vinyl letters and hand-painted logos for their vehicles.” National Bus had some clients that were looking for wrapped vehicles, so the Cobbs bought a 54-inch Roland SolJet Pro XC-540 printer/cutter, specifically to go after the vehicle-wraps market. “It was a leap of faith,” admits Cobb. “But it was the best decision we ever made here. Now, I’m trying to get totally into fleet graphics – that’s what I’m interested in.”
And business is going so well that Cobb is planning to acquire a latex printer to help with the work. “There’s plenty of times we have overload and are printing 24/7,” he says. “The vehicle-wrap industry has given me a fresh outlook on my whole career in the sign industry. It’s a huge breath of fresh air that’s blown into my shop.”
AAA SIGN CRAFTERS