I’ve been in the sign industry for 30 years. But I hadn’t given ADA compliant signs much thought until recently. Let me explain why.

I’m a sign fabricator. The bulk of my career has been creating illuminated high-rise signs, welding steel, and forming channel letters. ADA signs just are not top-of-mind for me. Since many of them are constructed of inexpensive plastic, ADA signs are the opposite of what I’ve been building.

However, the market needs ADA signage. It keeps people safe and serves a vital function in offices, condominiums, sports stadiums, etc. And for General Contractors, ADA falls into a spec manual and is required at inspection time for occupancy.

A LITTLE BACKGROUND ON ADA SIGNAGE

Architects are expected to have all the answers when it comes to commercial property development. However, many are not trained in ADA sign requirements. That means they need a reliable, qualified resource to navigate the complex rules and regulations.

In the arena of property development, specifying ADA has been relegated to General Contractors. And the reality is ADA is a major construction milestone for a GC. Each day they don’t have tenant occupancy is a hit to their bottom line.

The good news? Over the years, we developed relationships based on our reliability as an informed, well-qualified resource for ADA planning and implementation.

MY ADA SIGNAGE EPIPHANY

My epiphany came when I was in a meeting reviewing a prospective large-scale building project with a customer. The project scope included custom built architectural elements like a sun control system as well as ADA compliant signs.

We spent most of the meeting talking about $5k worth of work (the ADA signs) to get us on the path to working on the significant monetary investment (sun control). In other words, our customer’s Project Managers can’t get solutions to the biggest aspect of their projects without first talking through the ADA.

Building inspectors closely examine numerous aspects of a construction project, including the foundation, electrical and ADA. Sun control isn’t even a consideration.

WHY ADA IS KEY TO GREAT RELATIONSHIPS

The scale of a construction project doesn’t matter. What matters is that the ADA plan is rock solid.

What prevents GC’s from hitting their deadlines? ADA can be one of those things. Getting the occupancy permit is paramount. And ADA is on every permit set of requirements.

That is why we’re so focused on serving them better. So, they can achieve their goal of getting occupancy. Plain and simple. Helping GC’s nurtures our relationship with them.

OUR ADA SIGN SOLUTION

Most sign companies don’t get into ADA signs because of the code knowledge needed to plan and pass inspection. However, you’re not the credible resource if you’re not providing them the accurate code consultation and an effective, code-compliant plan.

What’s our solution? Be the strongest possible ADA partner. Here’s what we’re doing to make that happen.

We now have Project Managers just for ADA projects to ensure they are successful. It takes a special skill set and experience level to develop a foolproof ADA sign plan.

We’re exploring the use of varied materials and methods to meet customers’ needs. For example, thermoforming is a method of heating the sign material to a certain temperature and then pressing it over a die. These are required by most health care facilities and academic institutions which tend to have high traffic areas. This type of construction lasts longer and is considered by many to be “vandal proof.” We’re going to investigate this equipment at an upcoming sign industry show.

We’ve expanded our manufacturing facility by an additional 4,000 square feet. We bought two additional buildings to house our installation and excavation equipment. We’ve recently purchased a few additional machines including a 5’x10’ router table, engraving machine, and laser machine.

There is much more to the ADA design process. There is a lot you can do with it design-wise. The equation requires code compliance as well as creativity… and our team is up to it!

  • Adam Brown

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