American Sign Factory launches new LCD display division

American Sign Factory LLC, a sign and awning design, manufacturing and installation firm with operations in Milwaukee and metropolitan Chicago, recently created a new division that will specialize in interior LCD signs and interactive displays.

The division has been named American Digital Sign and will operate as a division of American Sign Factory for the time being, said Jordan Uditsky, president of the company. Eventually, American Digital Sign may be spun off into a separate company, he said.

The company began thinking about offering LCD signs and displays in the fall, after one of its clients asked if American Sign Factory could build them one.

"We felt that it was something we could push through our existing sales (channels)," Uditsky said. "We have electricians on staff who can install them with the media player that goes with it."

The new division, he said, is an extension of American Sign Factory’s expertise.

"On the sign side, we help get people into your store," he said. "This helps convert the customer into a sale."

The LCD displays consist of a commercial-grade LCD TV or monitor and a small, stripped down computer with an Internet connection. New screens, slides and content can be uploaded to the media player at the customer’s location or from another site, with use of a secure location. And because American Sign Factory already knows how to create custom signs, the company can create a wide variety of different sign bodies to put the LCD displays inside, Uditsky said.

"Because we are a custom manufacturer at heart, we can look at different kiosks or create a custom cut-out (for the display)," he said. "Every time we sit down and talk about this product or division, someone comes up with a new idea."

American Sign Factory is now pitching its interior LCD signs and displays to retail chains, restaurants, theaters, hotels, banks and corporate lobbies.

"You’re so unlimited for content," Uditsky said. "For movie theaters, we could program in a variety of movie posters and live trailers."

The company is now interviewing sales candidates. By the end of the first quarter, it will have five reps in Chicago, two or three in Milwaukee and one in Indianapolis, who will work on a commission-only basis, Uditsky said.

"The nice thing about this is there are no permits," he said. "You can go into a store, make your sale, the sign can be up in a couple of days and you can have your commission."

American Sign Factory has pitched proposals to two hotels, a Chamber of Commerce building under development, an office of a Milwaukee-based wealth management and life insurance company and a Chicago-area performance theater.

In 2008, the company reached record sales levels, largely fueled by the late 2007 merger of Milwaukee’s Sign Factory Inc. and Chicago-based American Sign & Lighting Co. While dealing with a down market, American Sign Factory hopes its new division will help it maintain its 2008 sales numbers.

Late last year, the company laid off a few of its manufacturing workers, but was able to reassign one worker to a sales position related to the new LCD division.

"When times are tough, companies shift money to sales and marketing," Uditsky said. "We’ve made cuts in manufacturing but we’re shifting that money into marketing.

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