Today’s podcast guest is Matt Schulze, a partner at Selective Structures. Matt talks about the impact of coronavirus on sign fabrication and the 4 mistakes that operators make when they build structures.
Matt you have an entertaining story about entering the out of home business.
It is kind of a little crazy. I got in the business in 1991. I was working for a radio station, selling airtime…We were selling live remotes. I sold a live remote to a mobile home dealership…and nobody was coming to this live remote. I was starting to get a little worried…So I went and got a bear suit. I got on top of the billboard on the property and started waving people in. They sold 8 mobile homes in one day during the live remote…I went back the next Monday and collected the $500 for the live remote and said hey, let’s do this next weekend. And he said Matt, I’m not going to do it…Nobody came in from the live remote. They came in because you were up on the billboard. It was a lightbulb moment. So I left there and went straight to the billboard company and he hired me…after 7 years I was running it…
Tell us about Selective Structures.
We started in 2002. We’ve got 5 great partners, great salesmen, great support staff, great shop. We’re located in Athens Tennessee…If you’ve been in the billboard business since 2009-2010 you’ve learned a lot along the way. We opened doors in 2002. In 2003 we started doing scoreboards which transitioned us into the digital age…We’ve going to do our 7,500th structure sometime this summer…We’re probably doing 5-7 structures a week.
What impact has coronavirus had on your business?
We stay about 6-8 weeks booked out so as of today we haven’t been affected. I think we’ve had a couple get delayed. Last week we delivered five structures. This week we’re set to deliver 7-8 structures…Here’s the encouraging thing. Last week I started calling clients…They’re offering free space to struggling businesses and I believe this will pay huge dividends cause people will always remember who helped them in a hard time…Right now there’s an opportunity just like in 2009. In 2009 companies spent a majority of their time doing lease reductions. This is an opportunity to grow your business. Landowners see the value of getting billboard mailbox money more now than ever before…Dave I’ve been in this business a long time, I’ve been on the sales side, I’ve been on the development side, I’ve been on the manufacturing side…and I think we’re going to have a monster summer. People are going to want to get out. They’re going to go to bars, they’re going to do to restaurants. And these small business have to replace this income that they lost. There’s no better industry than ours to help them…I want to challenge all the companies to use your digital platform to send positive messages, even after the quarantine is over. Because we’ve been bombarded with weeks and weeks of sensationalized news.
What common mistakes do out of home companies make when they put up a structure?
The biggest mistake is they don’t get a survey. We have had signs that we’ve built and they thought is was on the property and it wasn’t and we had to move it…and that is not an easy fix…It costs $500-1,500 to do a survey. It’s one of the best things you can do when you’re building a sign.
Not tall enough or too tall. You can’t determine what’s going to happen down the road. We like to have the client pull a local on premise sign ordinance to see if a business comes next door how big will their sign be…We like to go 5 feet above any on premise sign…
Sound walls are a huge problem. It makes no sense where they’re building them. The last 3-4 signs that I built in a city I try to get the client to build them for a future 20-30 foot raise. So in case they anticipate a sign wall being built in the next 5 years…all we have to do is put another column in it to raise it up.
I’ve been preaching this for years Dave. I which everybody built their structure digital ready. Because you never know what’s going to change down the road. I see companies spending 5 times as much money to fix it, to do a retrofit, than it was if they would have built it…On a 14 x 48, standard center-mount…to go from a static to a digital might be $1,500…the little bit of money that it costs now is worth it…